16-year-old Toronto singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist AVIV is a talent on the rise. As an artist whose songs highlight the emotions of millions her age, her music resonates strongly with those who hear it, and that ability to connect with listeners has seen her fanbase grow considerably since she first made her mark on the music scene as well as earn support from the likes of Atwood Magazine.
Currently, on tour with Imagine Dragons, AVIV unveiled her 8-track EP Drowning In The Culture on April 15th. Written during the pandemic, the collection addresses a number of the thoughts and feelings she experienced during that time, further highlighting her talent for writing about relatable issues and topics and XS Noize caught up with her to talk about artistic inspirations, her thoughts on social media and what it’s like being on the road with one of the biggest bands of the moment.
When you were younger, you studied piano before moving on to guitar. Was it your choice to learn both, or was it something suggested to you? What do you think taking those lessons taught you about music as a whole and perhaps the dedication that's required in the industry?
My parents wanted every kid in our family to know how to play at least one instrument. They thought it was important, and it mattered to them. I didn’t love piano at first because I was playing what I thought to be boring music that didn’t interest me, so I put a stop to it. Eventually, I started falling back in love with it when I began my compositions. The piano was what made me fall in love with songwriting. Through theory and such, I learned about song structures and cool and unique chords, which helped me create my sound.
Which bands and artists would you say ultimately inspired your decision to become an artist?
The biggest is Radiohead, specifically their album ‘OK Computer.’ My dad had it on vinyl, and I grew up having it played all around the house. The first song I wrote and loved was a total Radiohead rip-off.
Is there one particular band or artist you might say you're somewhat similar to? Do you get any comparisons with any of your artistic counterparts?
I think because of the age; I often get grouped with younger female artists. Such as a younger Avril Lavigne, Billie Eilish, and Olivia Rodrigo. Cool to be compared with such insane artists, but I get tend to get nervous when I'm compared to others.
It's a busy month for you. You've just embarked on a tour as support for Imagine Dragons, and you dropped your EP Drowning In The Culture on April 15. How did the support slot come about, and what can you say about the EP without giving too much away for those who haven't heard it yet?
Imagine Dragons was beyond a lucky experience to get. They were sent my song, liked it, and approved my opening for them. It’s been a wild, exciting, and intense couple of months of preparation. Because of the tour going up, we put pressure on the EP coming out a couple of months earlier. So, with this, we also had to get many songs produced at once. The EP came out last Friday and explores many raw themes. It’s like my diary. Now that everything is out and cooled, I’m much more relaxed and so happy.
Where did the idea for the title come from?
Drowning In the Culture came to me during a red-eye flight to LA. I had written some songs and was not satisfied with the outcome. I was writing what I assumed others would want to hear, but it didn’t resonate with me. “Drowning in the Culture” was one of the first songs I wrote on the trip with Liam Kevany. Together we explored this theme, and it was helpful to me during that time and helped pinpoint the emotions I was going through.
If you had to pick your favourite track from the collection, which would it be and why?
Wow. That’s hard...it’s like picking your favourite kid. I’ll choose “How Can Your Smile” since it has a deep meaning. I like it because it holds a unique perspective I hadn’t heard in many songs. Most songs I like are about blaming the other person, but how can you smile addresses being the difficult one and in the wrong. I liked that because it's truly what I needed to hear at that time.
What do you want those who hear the EP to take/learn/understand from it?
I hope that people hear this EP and it relates to something in their lives. It answered so many questions for me. I hope it does the same for some people in a way.
As someone who is still just a teenager, you've grown up in a world and society seemingly obsessed with, and with some could say overwhelming, reliance on technology and social media. How do you feel about both as an artist and an individual?
I think there's a healthy balance for sure. I’ve never been a big social media user, so it’s a newer topic I’ve learned through music. Through media, I and my circle of surrounding teenagers were forced to grow up faster, which sucks but is also kind of beautiful. Our whole generation holds passion and connection that wasn’t there before media. I love seeing people go out there online and share about themselves; it gives comfort to us and shows we aren’t alone. I’ve had many social breaks, and it’s helped me a lot. But once you switch your mentality, social media can be a positive and beautiful tool of unity in a world with lots of division as well.
I mentioned your tour slot with Imagine Dragons earlier. Of all the bands and artists throughout history, who would you most love to tour with and why?
Hmm… That's SUCH A HARD QUESTION. One of my first concerts was Lorde. This concert held a big hand in my passion for live shows, so if I had to pick only one, she would be my go-to.
Are there plans in the works for you to head out on your headline run of dates any time soon?
For sure. I enjoy opening up as it exposes you to so many cool new individuals but looking forward to a headline in the future. But for now, I’m learning.
Finally, are there any other plans or projects for 2022 you can tease?
Lots in the works… I can’t share too much yet, but the exciting stuff is on the way.
Listen to 'Drowning In The Culture' - BELOW: