Anything but ordinary. That's putting it mildly when describing Avril Lavigne. A skater-punk, a dynamic spirit, a true wild child. One of those rare creatures who started wowing people with her voice and character at around age 2. A small-town kid who couldn't sit still in class but had the confidence and determination to take off, virtually on her own, to hone her songwriting skills in New York City and Los Angeles. A startlingly up-front and outrageous 17-year-old with everything it takes to reach stardom - completely on her own terms. "I'm just coming out and I'm going to clearly be myself - I write what I feel, I never worry what others think," Avril avows. "I'm gonna dress what's me, I'm gonna act what's me and I'm gonna sing what's me."
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Avril does exactly that on her debut CD, Let Go, flaunting sassy vocals, a crystal clear voice with real-girl lyrical style. Anything But Ordinary is a rockin' ode to individuality, while guitar-driven first single, Complicated, is a simple song that kicks pretenders to the curb. The string-inflected I'm With You reaches out for connection to reflect Avril's more mellower side, but tracks like Losing Grip and Unwanted courageously confront rejection and betrayal with all the heaviness such subjects demand. Then there's My World and the metaphoric Mobile, which perfectly articulate the Avril experience. "I have this awesome opportunity to fulfill my dream. I am all over the place, flying here and there, going through different stuff every day," she explains. "This is my lifestyle, but I wouldn't want a normal life or I'd get bored."
Apparently, Avril was born for such insanity. A middle child who "always wanted to be the center of attention," she was bound to bust out of Napanee, Ontario, population 5,000. "I always knew this was what I had to do," she says. "I remember when I was really young, standing on my bed like it was a stage, singing at the top of my lungs and visualizing thousands of people surrounding me." She segued from her bedroom to singing, well, whenever and wherever she could - starting in church singing gospel music, and on to festivals, then singing country music at fairs and talent contests - until she was discovered by Arista Records.
On a writing trip to NYC, Avril caught the attention of Antonio "LA" Reid, who snapped her up and signed her to Arista. At 16, she moved to Manhattan and began work on her debut CD. Avril plunged into the creative process. "I love writing," she explains. "When I get upset and really need to get it out of me I go to my guitar. Sometimes I feel like my guitar is my therapist."
Although Avril virtually lived in the studio during that New York stint, her efforts didn't pay off at first. "I started working with these really talented people, but I just wasn't feeling it; the songs weren't representative of me," she admits. "Then they started talking about having people write for me, but I had to write myself. I had to do my music. It was a really stressful time, but I never considered giving up." Instead, she flipped coasts. Los Angeles gave Avril the fresh start she needed.
It was there that she hooked up with producer/songwriter Clif Magness, and "I was like, 'Yeah! I've found my guy!'" she enthuses. "We totally clicked, because he just let me guide; he really understood me and let me do my thing." The songs for Let Go began pouring out, with Magness at the helm as well as up-and-coming production team the Matrix. Soon after Avril hooked up with Nettwerk Management who've steered the careers of Sarah McLachlan, Dido, Coldplay, Barenaked Ladies and Sum 41.
Avril couldn't be happier with the way the album turned out. "In this past year I've really grown as a writer. Complicated wasn't written about anyone in particular. It is basically about life, people being fake and relationships." As to one of her favorite tracks, Losing Grip , she says, "That is definitely one of my ex-boys - he didn't give me what I needed emotionally." Avril laughs, "It doesn't matter now, and plus I got a good song out of it."
Now that her album is done, Avril can't wait to get out and play. She jokes, pointing out that touring with her own sk8er punk band of rocker boys probably won't be all that different from her childhood, "I was always a tomboy and I guess I still am. I played hockey during the fall/winter and baseball in the summer. I loved playing with the boys.
But Avril's music is capable of reaching the girls and the guys, and more than a few adventurous adults too - and she's chomping at the bit to bring it to 'em. "I can't wait to be out there; I want to rock the world! I want people to know that my music is real and honest - it came from my heart. I was just being true to myself."
Avril's real, all right. And ordinary? Anything but.
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