By Jim Barber
Avril Lavigne was born and raised in the small southeastern Ontario town of Napanee, and learned to play and write music there.
Talk about the first single that was produced from your album Goodbye Lullaby. It’s a pretty emotional, heart-rending tune.
Avril: I guess in some way it [Wish You Were Here] was therapeutic, because to me it’s like a journal or a diary. The lyrics to my songs are personal, and they come from my life and things that I see or go through, or things that I see other people go through. So I really pull in information from everywhere.
“I love rocking out. I love playing the electric guitar and jumping around on stage, but I also have another side to me. I am a songwriter, I am a singer, I’m a chick.”
Do you feel any pressure to stay the same?
Avril: I am more song driven than before. And that’s kind of like a lot of the stuff I heard on the radio growing up in Canada, from real artists like Sarah McLachlan, or Alanis, or Jann Arden, just real music, from girls that have real voices, and the songs had a lot of meaning to them. I do not want to just make another pop record where I am talking about boys and boy bashing, and it’s super-light subjects. My subjects are personal, they’re raw, it’s vulnerable, it’s emotional. On certain songs it was hard to go there, but I went there anyway.
How often do you get back to Napanee?
Avril: When I come to Napanee it’s really because I am stopping in to see Bill and Marina [Kosmopoulos] at La Pizzeria. LOL. I am addicted to that pizza, it’s so good. They are awesome. They’re like, “Free pizza for life.” And it’s like, “Sweet!!” They know my parents now, and we go in all the time, and they’ve been so supportive, and they totally have my pictures and memorabilia up and stuff like that.
Why did you decide to start a charitable foundation?
Avril: I do a lot of work with the Make A Wish Foundation, and that was really special to me, and I just wanted to have my own foundation and take it to the next level, and I still do Make A Wish stuff, but I wanted to get involved with helping sick and disabled young people. So I partnered up with Easter Seals. It’s one of those things that I am really passionate about and it’s important for me.
“Wish You Were Here is a very emotional song, and it’s a song that I just think about what other people are thinking about when they’re hearing it. Because the song is about missing somebody, and we all go through some point in our lives where we’re missing somebody, or we lost somebody, or had a falling out, or a separation. But the song is ultimately positive, because it’s reflecting and looking back and remembering all the crazy moments that you had, and understanding that it’s part of life.”
Did you get a lot of support for your music and your talent as a kid growing up in Napanee?
Avril: I had a lot of wonderful opportunities in Napanee, because I sang at churches, the Napanee Fair, Music By the River which was an event held down by the river in the summer, and different banquets. And then there was the theatre in Selby doing musicals and stuff. I started making a name for myself around town just singing and then I would travel to neighbouring towns and do the churches and the fairs and the banquets, or whatever. And then I got to the point where I was writing my own songs at 14, and then, I was signed by 16.
Why did you decide to do the clothing line and the fragrance? Are you just someone who is always looking for new and different creative outlets?
Avril: I always loved arts and crafts. I paint a lot, and I like to cook. I am a very visual person so I like to make things and create. So the clothes and fashion is a really big part of music and having a career and everything I have done with photo shoots and video shoots and red carpets and whatever, it became one of the things that I wanted to do. I wanted to have a fashion line. You can check it out at www.abbeydawn.com.
How hand’s on are you in terms of things like picking the fabric, or the specific design for each piece?
Avril: Yeah, I am totally hands on, because the whole style guide comes from me and my personal style and what I like. And then I formed a team around me that understands that. I go shopping in places like Tokyo and get tons of inspiration from my travels all over the world. And it’s one of those things where I am quick, when I see something, I think about things in my head and automatically think of fabrics and fit and following the trends, and making it super edgy. It’s a rock and roll brand.
“I just want to say thank you so much for supporting me and my music. Everyone has always been super warm when I come back home, and in Canada in general. So just a big thanks for everything!”