Joseph Llanes for AOL
When Lavigne visited AOL's Beverly Hills offices recently to tape a five-song Sessions appearance, we got a mix of both, with versions of 'What the Hell' and 'Girlfriend,' as well as 'Smile' and 'My Happy Ending.' She also gave us and her fans a chance to see her quieter side, stripping the songs down to their basics, playing a couple with just her guitarists. Avril talked about overcoming shyness by fist-pumping on stage, how the success of her first album has been carried with her through her career and why she's having more fun than ever.
How did the performance feel today?
The performance was nice. It was a stripped-down, more acoustic version of some of my songs. I'm on tour right now just going full-on, rocking out electric. So it's always nice and has always been one of my favorite things to do with some of my songs, to break them down, to have more of a raw feeling behind the lyrics. It switches it up and it brings out a different emotion, feel and vibe.
What emotions and vibes does it bring out?
It brings it back to when I wrote the song, because typically when I'm writing it's not a full band. I'm so focused on the lyrical message, the feeling, the mood and the intention behind the song that it kind of brings me back to when I wrote the song and how I felt that day. Also, today's performance was in front of the camera instead of me being on stage, running around, performing to a crowd, playing that role and having that responsibility to make everybody in the room, everyone in the crowd to get up and do their thing. It was really just about me enjoying myself and getting in touch with the song and the meaning behind it.
Watch Avril Lavigne Perform 'Smile' at Sessions
Were you psyched to get out there and bring that energy to the stage? For you, is there anybody you look to as a role model performing live?
In general, I've been inspired by all different types of music and different artists. I just listen to such a wide range of music. As a performer, being on stage over the years, because I'm a very shy person and not that talkative, I really had to learn how to be a real performer. And my job to go on stage is not only to just enjoy myself, enjoy the songs, and to sing because that is what I love, my responsibility is to make sure that every single person out there in the audience has the best time. It's really important for me to always be in a really great headspace because when it's something so repetitive and you're on a long tour, I want to make the best of it and enjoy myself because even though it's work, you have to love it. So to go out there and to make everyone have an amazing time -- and to have a really great time myself -- is key.
It's interesting that you say you're shy, because when you get up on stage, we don't see it. Has rocking out in front of that crowd, knowing everybody's there for you, become a release for you?
Yeah, I'm a quiet, more shy, introverted person but I also have a side to me. You see it in my music. I have ballads. I have deeper, more emotional songs, but then I have pop songs that are very light, poking fun at boys and stuff like that. You see that that is who I am and that is a very large part of my live show. It's diverse. I go out and get the crowd going and fist-pumping and rocking out on the guitar and I'm jumping around, running around having a good time but I also really enjoy just sitting down at the piano and performing in the most raw, vulnerable form.
As you progress in your career with your records, do you feel that they're starting to become more of an overall reflection of the two sides of Avril?
I just think as a human being we experience different emotions. Happy, sad, good, bad, and with my songwriting, which is an expression of my music, that's where I put it. That's how it's created. It's inspired through all the different emotions that I go through as a human being and I think that's the beauty of music is that different people can relate to it in different ways.
We had a chance to talk last year at Nancy Davis' Race to Erase MS about your clothing line and all the different things you do. How do all the different entities merge for you? How do your side projects influence your music?
I've had an incredible opportunity to have a clothing line and that's called Abbey Dawn. I have two fragrances, Black Star and Forbidden Rose, and the newest thing, which is very important to me, is starting the Avril Lavigne Foundation, and a little bit of acting and, of course, music. To be able to grow and expand and touch on other areas is part of who I am tremendously. I am very involved. It is a reflection of me, it all goes hand-in-hand because it is mine and I'm designing or creating fragrances and it all ties in with my music.
How is the Avril Lavigne Foundation going?
It's very exciting for me because through my career I've had the opportunity to work with really great foundations like Make-A-Wish and contributing to different compilation albums. For me, it felt really good and it was part of my responsibility to give back if you can in any way. I started the Avril Lavigne Foundation and my focus is on sick and disabled children and youth. I'm developing that now and getting it on its feet and I'm very excited. I'm very excited to announce that shortly.
How is your relationship with your fans? Are there any stories of your fans connecting with your music that sort of stand out to you?
It's really been something I would never expect to come out of my music because I was writing songs and enjoying music for what it was. I remember doing signings and having fans in a line to come see me and doing autographs and having different people say to me some really intense things. "This song really helped me out because I was going through a really tough time in my life," and looking at them and seeing tears in their eyes and seeing them trembling and just that experience on its own was really moving to me. I experienced that on my first album and that was something that I definitely took with me throughout the making and creating of the albums after that. So when I'm writing songs it's kind of cool and really inspiring to me to know that my song speaks to that strength, moving forward, getting by, and surviving emotionally. Knowing that it's going to have an effect on at least one person out there, because I've seen that in person, it's just incredible.
What are those songs for you or what's one or two of those songs that stand out, those go-to songs that call up emotions for you?
I'm a very sensitive person so music moves me. I can be in the car and hear a song on the radio when I'm going through a situation in my life and I don't even know who the artist is and it empowers me. It brings a tear to my eye, it's very moving. That is the power and beauty behind songs and music and I'm happy to be a part of that. If I inspire and encourage others in any way, shape, or form then I've done my job right.