Ava Max Is Sweet, Psycho, & Ready For Pop Domination

Ava Max is cool. Almost too cool and chill to be the same 26-year-old who has a global smash hit already under her belt and a highly anticipated debut album, Heaven & Hell, out now on Atlantic Records. In a pop music climate that is currently filled with whispers over beats, Max brings a flare of the classic pop music you know and love from B.T. (before TikTok) with a modern twist. Her premiere album, Heaven & Hell, feels like the perfect introduction to who Ava is both as a person and an artist: fun and feisty, with zero plans of slowing down any time soon. 

There have been multiple times where a debut single skyrockets its singer to an unexpected level of instant success—like Instant Ramen, but Instant Record Deals. These overnight sensations seem to just happen by sheer luck, but what you don’t usually hear about is the hard work that predates it: “It’s weird because I’ve been trying to make it for a very long time, and at the end of the day, I’m just grateful people actually care about my music and relate to my music and I just want to inspire people.” Another thing that oftentimes is missing from these stories? A follow-up release to continue their momentum. Here, Max can sleep easily with “Kings & Queens” making its way up the charts and raking in over 244 million streams on Spotify.  

“Once ‘Sweet But Psycho’ came out I didn’t really have time to work on an album because I went straight to tour,” Max says. While many artists recently, like Ellie Goulding and Katy Perry, talk openly about the inevitable fatigue that comes from the ride of celebrity, it seems that Ava is already taking the steps to make sure she doesn’t burn out: “It’s all about taking it easy and not forcing yourself to do something at that moment. I really believe in manifesting and if you’re not feeling it at the moment, let it go.”

Letting go may be easy when it comes to putting the proverbial pen and paper away for the day and taking a break from work, but a tad bit harder when it comes to getting over that person you can’t just seem to get over, a topic that we all definitely face, and one that Max faces head-on in her art. She revealed that one of her new songs, “Rumors”, “was a last-minute addition—it’s a fun song on the hell side, about how I hear so many rumors about this person but I’m still ending up in his room .” Who can’t relate? She also gave some slight hints that if, after this album, you’re already begging for more Ava, not to worry—a deluxe version will definitely be on its way soon. 

Avatars (the name her fans lovingly gave themselves, although I’d love to pitch them Maxxinistas), may find themselves falling head over heels for Ava Max’s music because of how instantly they relate the lyrics in her songs—something that Ava says is one of the most important parts of music to her.

“Lyrics are all that matters. You have to relate to people. Literally, I don’t know how to explain it but lyrics have made a difference in my life.” Her love of lyrics predates her musical career and goes all the way back to when she was growing up listening to the divas of the early 2000s. I mean, who hasn’t belted “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” in a shower, or car ride, or karaoke bar? While I didn’t ask Ava if that tune was in her karaoke rotation, she said it was definitely one of the songs in the past that she wished she wrote because “it’s just too good.” Touching on her own lyrics, Max said that the track “Naked” on the album will give fans a glimpse of a different side of her—one they haven’t seen before. 

As with any conversation in 2020, the topic of quarantine had to inevitably come up. “The best thing I learned about myself in quarantine is patience.” She also said that she realized she “likes to eat more than most people I know,” and at that moment, I’ve never related to a pop star more. While she is practicing patience during this time of lockdown, she’s skipped the sourdough starter kits and went on to not only record a new song for the album (“Heaven”, the opener, was done in lockdown) but also record some new music videos that will accompany the album, a process she said was really fun but of course, extra stressful in these times when your glam preparation also involves a COVID test. 

When asked to pair this album with a cocktail—because this year we could all use a drink—the singer quickly answered with a jalapeño mojito, because “it’s kinda spicy, psycho, crazy.” But of course, it has a little sweetness. I’ll drink to that. And I’m sure Ava may want a cocktail in hand after the release of her album, both to celebrate “the project being out in the world and no longer mine, but the fans’” but also because with her debut album, she admits, “I’m nervous and I wonder how it’s gonna come across so I have all these thoughts in my head. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion.” After listening to the album, I feel she has nothing to worry about.  

Without jinxing anything, I did slightly mention what she would do if she was nominated for a Grammy this year: “I would vomit. I would feel nauseous, sick to my stomach, and not know what to say. I would feel so grateful—I’d still feel grateful even if I don’t get anything like that.” My advice to Ava is to get the Pepto Bismol ready because if the Recording Academy has any sense, we’ll be seeing her on that stage soon, most likely thanking her childhood chihuahua that she says she loved and her family. 

Heaven & Hell by Ava Max is out now on all platforms. 

Images: Charlotte Rutherford

Why You Should Follow Ashley Longshore, The Artist Blake Lively Is Obsessed With

One of the main complaints I ran into when talking to people about the James Charles/Tati Westrbook feud was simply, “who the f*ck are these people?” As you get older, you get out of touch with who the kids are following. It’s simply a fact of life. So I’m here to tell you who you should be following on social media and why. You’re so welcome.

One of my recent Instagram obsessions is Ashley Longshore, a painter and entrepreneur with a casual 209K followers on Instagram. That might not seem like a lot (even though you probs have like, 300 followers rn, so who are you to talk?), but Ashley is going to be huge, and trust me, the celeb and fashion-darling pop artist is going to become your new obsession. First, a little backstory. Ashley grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and was a self-described weird kid with a loud personality who did not fit in at the garden club (same). Ashley had no interest in fulfilling her mother’s dreams of attending cotillion, so she got the f*ck out of Dodge, taught herself to paint, and eventually moved to New Orleans. But reality came crashing down on her when local galleries rejected her work (her early paintings depicted masturbating couples—apparently that kind of artwork is frowned upon in the Big Easy… which is not exactly surprising).

After spending her nights “crying snot bubbles,” this entrepreneurial badass took matters into her own hands and opened her own gallery. And just like in a movie, Blake Lively was driving by one day, and upon seeing Ashley’s vibrant artwork, demanded that her driver stop so she could check it out.

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Care bear stare…. one of my portraits of Anna Wintour…. #ashleylongshore #fuckyeah #popart @carebears

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Blake Instagrammed about her new discovery, and just like Serena plucking Dan from obscurity, Ashley began her rise to superstardom. Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, and Kelly Ripa snatched up her art. Luxury brands like Gucci, Diane von Furstenberg, and Veuve Clicquot called for collaborations. Bergdorf Goodman selected Ashley to be the first woman in history to have a solo exhibit at their store. Ashley also redesigned their restaurant, which is now an art-filled, Insta-worthy dining destination called “Palette at BG.”

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Lick my lollipop… #ashleylongshore #popart #fuckyeah

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By now Ashley’s aesthetic had evolved to colorful, bedazzled portraits of iconic people like Audrey Hepburn, Anna Wintour, Lil Wayne, and Jesus surrounded by Care Bears, Birkin Bags, Veuve Clicquot, and Louis Vuitton.

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mood ✨ @ashleylongshoreart

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Ashley’s art is so cool, but the best part about her might, unsurprisingly, be her Instagram @ashleylongshoreart. A diehard proponent of doing 20 naked jumping jacks in front of the mirror for morning motivation, this chick embraces her crazy and it is infectious.

In addition to featuring her artwork, her posts alternate between amazingly upbeat music/dance videos, girl power inspirations, honest af stories about her overcoming B.S., and elaborate, absurd, and hilarious backstories about random birds such as “Todd” who “sleeps in a nest above TJ MAXX” and after four drinks “can karoke a perfect version of ‘HOW MANY FUCKS DO I GIVE’ by Erika Jayne with choreography.”

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Meet Todd: He works in retail and sleeps in a nest above TJ MAXX. He lives and tweets Fashion and brags about his clothes but we all know he is using that employee discount at Macys.. his favorite expression when whipping out his Discover card is “like shit through a goose”… he is a total size queen… He seems very sweet in person but is nasty in the nest.. he wont let his lovers sleep over and he eats krispy kreme donuts during and after coitus .. He went through a horrendous break up with an awnry lil twink and is feeling a little “fluffy” these days after a two month carb bender… he recently started doing Zumba and the male version of kegels. His drink of choice is a cowboy cocksucker: ( baileys, whiskey and whip cream) After four of them, he can karoke a perfect version of “HOW MANY FUCKS DO I GIVE” by Erika Jayne with choreography … Todd is approachable but is known for extreme bouts of sarcasm… be prepared for joan rivers type heckling and label whoring. Overall, he is a magnificent very entertaining bird. He is best for brunching and is known for having the best GIFS ever…..#ashleylongshore #popart #fuckyeah #birdistheword

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Her Instagram is visual caffeine, the perfect hangover cure, and will actually help you channel a positive vibe for the day. If you’re obsessed with Lizzo right now, Ashley is a must-follow, because she brings very similar positive energy. Which is more than I can say about most thirst traps on Instagram. Did I mention that her mantra is “I do not cook. I do not clean. I do not fly commercial”?

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Goals… i do not cook. I do not clean. I do not fly commercial…. #ashleylongshore #fuckyeah #popart

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Spoken like a true betch. You’re welcome!