I first heard Ava Wild’s terrific debut album, “Bare,” via the Saskatchewan Music 2016 longlist, in which it was included amongst scores of terrific projects. Ava’s album, however, stood out from the pack thanks to her singing, creative guitar playing (featuring some of the most interesting chords and harmonies you’ll hear on any given day), and incisive lyrics. (You can read my thoughts on her album in my overview of the longlist here.)
Ava very kindly took the time to chat with us about her upcoming appearance at the Gateway Festival next month in Bengough, SK.
Your debut album, “Bare,” came out last year. What has the experience of releasing and touring it been like for you?
There has been lots of learning! I found that being short gives me an advantage for couch surfing while on the road. And I was fortunate enough to meet many kind and generous people who share an appreciation for music. My eyes are definitely opened to the reality of pursuing music but even with those less enjoyable hours at a computer or on the phone, being able to get out on a stage and perform the songs I write in my bedroom makes it all so worth it.
When I first heard the album, one of the things that struck me immediately was your use of some pretty interesting, jazzy chords, particularly on “King of My Heart.” What are some of the influences that have inspired you to write in this style?
At the age of nine I fell in love with the music of Norah Jones. After that I kept searching and discovering other masterful pieces from the likes of Chet Baker, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday etc… however, for me, the real spark for incorporating jazzy chords into my own compositions was through jamming with other musician and singing in my small ensemble group at school. Learning strands of harmony for a Tony Bennett song or a Chordettes song was very beneficial to my musical understanding. (Also jazz is just classy so I find it amusing to try and play it!)
To me, one of the themes that runs through your songs is the importance of following one’s own inner voice and one’s dreams, regardless of what others might say. What makes this message so crucial for you to convey to others?
Truth is I don’t go out of my way to try and write about certain messages. I just sit down and have a conversation with myself and my guitar. I suppose “inner-dreams” is inevitably portrayed because for me it’s something that I keep alive in myself. And, as I convey in my lyrics, I think every heart has a song to sing.
Crowns and royal imagery frequently appear in your songs (“King of My Heart,” “Queen”) and, it seems, in your live performances, judging from your Twitter feed. (Unfortunately we haven’t had the opportunity to hear you live yet ourselves – hopefully someday soon!) What has drawn you to these particular metaphors and images?
I suppose it’s reminiscent of my childhood. Reading fairytales, playing in imaginary worlds…Royal imagery is associated with powerful qualities such as courage, truth, and goodness. When I use the crown metaphors it is to honour the nobility within each of us (check it out in my project #BaringTheQueen).
What are you looking forward to the most at the Gateway Festival? What is it like to be included amongst such musical luminaries as Tom Cochrane, the Sadies, and Basia Bulat, just to name a few?
I’m mostly looking forward to the music and dancing but I am definitely honoured to be playing in the same festival as Tom Cochrane, Basia Bulat and the many other artists on the line up this year. It is going to be lots of fun.
If you had to describe what festival-goers can expect from you live in just a few words, what would you say?
Dynamic, Sweet and Honest.