At this point, there’s a chance you could be unaware of rising Dark Pop artist AViVA. But rest assured, that won’t be the case much longer. At a meteoric rate, the Sydney musician has gone on to capture the minds of fans, media, and industry titans the world over. Not because of some trend, or fluke, or flavour of the month type deal, but because of years of calculated, meticulous and above all else, real work.
Between the brooding yet stunning music, and the accompanying visual stimuli, there’s a strong sense of organisation within the AViVA camp. These are deliberate and precise strikes. No doubt all those who considered themselves peers of AViVA at some point are feeling a chill down their spine.
With the release of her latest single BRN, AViVa has amassed a mental half a million streams – most likely more by time of publish. But this is only the beginning. While on the road supporting Tonight Alive, we spoke to AViVA, who revealed some parts of her master plan.
The Neversphere: You’re now a few shows deep in the Tonight Alive tour, how has it all gone down so far?
AViVA: It was awesome. I hadn’t known what to expect with Canberra because it’s not a huge place but it was packed; everyone was so enthusiastic supportive. It was awesome to see Between You & Me, and hang with Jenna.
The Neversphere: From the outside looking in, it really does seem like things are going gangbusters for you. You’ve dropped a number of successful singles lately, the most recent being BRN–
AViVA: –BRN has actually had half a million plays now…half a million in it’s first week [Laughs] So, I’m pretty fucking stoked on that.
The Neversphere: I saw! Congratulations. How did it feel getting that email? Well, I imagine you find out you’ve had half a million streams via email…
AViVA: I have to say, Youtube is amazing. Youtube is where my biggest international fanbase is, all these kids that live on there. They’re phenomenal. When I think about it, it blows my mind; the amount of comments I get – And I try to reply to all the comments because I think it’s important to connect to your fans, show people you care by putting in that time and energy, and I want to as much as I can, while I can.
The Neversphere: It makes sense that Youtube would be you’re streaming heartbeat, as there’s such a strong visual element with your project. I’d like to know how your creative process goes, as broad as that sounds, how do you begin the sonic and visual journey, and how do you combine them?
AViVA: It’s all inextricably connected with a story that I’m writing. I’m writing a series, and the whole artistic concept is based around the idea that all these songs are set in my mind, and that’s an alternative reality to what we live in because music, for me, was always a coping mechanism. The way we look at the world, things are really hard to understand, so we use whatever our talents are – if you’re a good drawer, you might draw things for example – so the songs really map my life, my experiences and my feelings about things in a way that’s both literal, and figurative.
Where it’s figurative, that’s where it ties into the story. The visual element, all the artwork, are moments you’ll see in the story if you read it. But my aim isn’t to make it so it’s exclusive, one or the other, it’s just if you put them together it will make the whole experience richer.
The Neversphere: This concept sounds so incredible, but it adds a lot of work to the already laborious task of writing a full-length album. What encouraged you to take so much on with your debut?
AViVA: For me, it’s not about creating music, it’s about creating an experience. When I was a teenager, I was always searching for this complete world. No one did it – no one had it. There were so many artists that had bits and pieces but no one had completely built a world and that’s what I’m working on doing. It’s a lot of work, but it’s totally worth it.
The Neversphere: One thing that comes to mind is Lights, and the campaign for her latest album Skin & Earth. She released a comic book series alongside the album, did you catch this?
AViVA: Totally! I remember when I found out she’d done that…It’s always this concept of the 10-year overnight success…I had been mapping all this out before I announced anything. When I saw she did that I was worried people would think I was copying her [Laughs]! But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter; nothing is completely original because we’re thousands of years into our universe.
The Neversphere: How will the novel series work? Will it be available in bookshops? Or as a bundle with the record? What’s the release plan?
AViVA: At the moment I’m looking at self-publishing. Obviously, if the right publisher comes along I’d be open to looking at that. The first book, which is currently in editing, is what I would call the ‘first album’ essentially. It’s not a book per song – that would be a lot of books – but if you read the story, there is a moment for every song, and you’d be able to hear the song while you read it, like a soundtrack, and there’ll be an audiobook set out like that.
The Neversphere: Oh, woah, so you’ve covered all your bases with this!
AViVA: [Laughs] Yes, well, this is my life.
The Neversphere: That covers the logistics behind the project, but thematically speaking, what did you find was interesting you for this material? Listening to tracks like GRRL, Drown and BRRN, it looks like themes social awareness, tips of the hat to mental health…how close is my read on the situation?
AViVA: I’m so glad that they’re translating. I would break it into 4 main categories. One would be mental health and wellbeing, the other being autonomy of self; taking ownership of who you are and what you want. That is the overarching story for the main character; her going ‘who the hell am I…Oh, this is who I am…now I have to actually be that person, because I think a lot of people go through life not knowing who they are, and I’ve never understood that.
The third would be more political and that comes through in the book. It’s a judgement on humanity and what we look like today. The overarching thing, and I can say this because I’ve alluded to it other places – the world in which this story is set is a post-world destination, a dystopia of earth, where they’ve banned self-expression, everything – art, religion, the whole gamut.
Then the fourth part would just be fun. It’s all just meant to be fun, really. I want people to listen to my music and go ‘Yeah, I want to dance!”
The Neversphere: I think that’s really important. As a listener, sometimes it can be overbearing to be constantly hearing these highly aware and motivated messages. Sometimes you just want to zonk out and listen, not start a revolution.
AViVA: That’s the whole idea. I don’t want to be preachy. It’s there, and if my intent isn’t there, it’ll come through some other way. People will take what they need. The 8 or 9-year-old little girls who love my music, and get their mums to message me on Instagram, they’re not taking away some huge hidden meaning, they just like the fun. But then the people who are saying your song GRRRLS makes me feel like I’m not the only person who feels like that at school…I’m like, Fuck yeah.
The Neversphere: For a concept this encompassing, what’s the gauge of success for you? I feel this transcends charts or sales
AViVA: Success to me doesn’t make sense. Success indicates there’s an endpoint, and that means there’s a point where you stop trying. I’m just going to keep working and growing. The finish line just moves! 28 million plays on GRRRLS is success, but that’s not enough, we need to keep going.
The Neversphere: The one thing we’ve not covered is the timeframe…Did you have one at this point? Or am I asking too much?
AViVA: I want to have the first book out this year. I’m not too sure about the album. I’m just doing singles at the moment because I feel like it. The book…it’s a beast of its own. You think it’s done but you read it through again and you see you need to change so much stuff, but I want to have it out by the end of this year.
The Neversphere…And then you’re going to be a published author!
AViVA: I’m so excited, my whole life all I wanted to be was a musician and an author…
…And it’s happening!
AViVA Australian Tour Dates
Supporting Tonight Alive
Thursday, May 10
Arrow On Swanston, Melbourne
Tickets: Live Nation
Friday, May 11
Max Watt’s, Melbourne
Tickets: Live Nation
Saturday, May 12
The Gov, Adelaide
Tickets: Live Nation