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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Avril Lavigne is forever young

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The Canadian singer, who turns 30 this year, talks about her music in a phone interview recently.

AVRIL Lavigne's voice is bright and squeaky when she first greets me on the other end of the line. The Canadian singer-songwriter who rose to fame dropping catchy angst-ridden tunes was calling from China where she was touring.

But somewhere between asking her about hitting the big 3-0 (I see where I went wrong now) and her favourite new artistes, Lavigne's spark and ebullience ever so slightly faded, with little to say and little to elaborate at some parts of our 10-minute interview.

Then again, I am informed that the singer had to sit in for numerous back-to-back phone interviews with the Malaysian media ahead of her upcoming Kuala Lumpur performance. Lavigne has also been on the road since December and is probably worn out.

In your latest album, you celebrate being young and carefree but also dive in to other more mature, emotional stuff. Personally, do you feel more grown up now or do you still feel young and reckless?

I think it's a combination. I like to have fun. I am young at heart but at the same time I'm responsible, I work very hard and I'm married now.

You first became popular for songs that perfectly captured teenage angst. Is there a pressure to keep this image even when you're older?

No, I don't. I feel the most important thing is to follow my heart as far as making music goes. I write music depending on my mood and where I'm at in life, unless my record company is forcing me to do otherwise (chuckles).

You're turning 30 this year. Are you excited or do you dread it?

Thank you for the reminder. (Laughs) I'm looking forward to having a big birthday party.

How about turning 30 in general?

I'm embracing it. I don't really think about age all that much.

What do you envision for yourself, musically, in the next decade?

I have lots of goals. I want to do a Christmas record. I plan to still make music, follow my heart and create music that feels natural to me, make music that I want to make.

You entered the music business when you were really young, do you think that has affected you in any way?

My first record came out at 17. I left home at 16. I got to have a normal childhood. I grew up in a small town. I got to be where I am today on my own. I was very independent and ready to work very hard and I'm happy with the age that it all happened at.

Before you shot to fame, you performed country covers. And listening to your new album, it sounds like there's a tinge of country-pop in there.

I agree with you. I started singing at church when I was very young. Then I sang wherever else I could, which was like fairs and banquets and I had to sing country music. And when I was 14, I started writing my own song which became my style now, so yeah, I got my start there.

Is that something you want to explore?

I think it'll be kind of cool. Maybe.

There's a bunch of new artistes coming in every year. Do you feel pressured to constantly stay ahead of the game?

I feel thankful for my fanbase because they've been really loyal, which I'm grateful for. As far as new artistes go, there's tonnes these days and it's all about releasing singles, and sometimes you only hear one single from somebody, so it's very different. I'm glad I came at a time that we sold records and people bought into artistes and their whole careers. The whole industry is different today, it's more digital but I feel grateful. I've been doing this for 12 years now.

Are there new artistes you enjoy listening to?

I listen to the radio. I can't think of anything off the top of my head.

What's your favourite song from the album?

I like Bad Girl, Hello Kitty, Hush Hush and Give Me What You Like.

You'll be performing in Malaysia for the third time, how will it be different this time?

I'll be playing songs from all five of my albums, including songs from my new album. I'll be playing hits from over the years.

Do you have anything to say to your Malaysian fans?

Very excited to be making it to Malaysia this March. And thank you for supporting my music. I hope you can make it to the show.

Avril Lavigne will perform at Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur on March 14. Tickets are priced at RM88, RM168, RM358, RM388 and RM488. Call 03-8775 4666 for the ticketing hotline or log on to

Interactive set from musician Olafur Arnalds

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

When you watch Olafur Arnalds in concert, be prepared to be part of the show.

Icelandic composer and musician Olafur Arnalds has a penchant for getting his audience involved in his performances.

The 27-year-old says that he got the idea to collaborate with his audiences from social media.

"I got so interested in how social media is turning fans into collaborators of the musicians, and I eventually brought that idea into the live show as well," he says in an e-mail interview.

"I've always wanted to bring musicians down to the same level as the audience and have them as equal participants in a musical moment, rather than the idea of the musician being this godly figure on stage that everyone looks up to."

Hailing from a small town, Mosfellsbar in Reykjavik, Arnalds' brand of neo-classical music and electronica has taken him all over the world, with gigs across Europe, North America and China.

His compositions have also reached a wider audience after being used as soundtracks for Hollywood flicks such as The Hunger Games (2012) and Looper (2012) as well as British television crime drama Broadchurch.

Last year, he released his third full-length album, For Now I Am Winter, which has garnered positive reviews from the music press.

Music magazine Filter, for example, praises it for being "filled with widescreen ambitions that deliver on every count", while music website Drowned In Sound hails it as "an album that demands attention, not to mention repeated listenings, to draw out the beauty".

Fans who are familiar with the album will experience the music in a whole new light as Arnalds says that he has reworked the songs for his live shows.

"We are bringing an intimate set-up of a piano, violin, cello and vocals in a few songs.

"It's obviously a much smaller set-up than what I recorded For Now I Am Winter with, but I have rearranged the songs for this type of set-up.

"It sounds more intimate and personal, perfect for a live setting."

Having opened for acclaimed fellow Icelandic band Sigur Ros, who also hails from Reykjavik, Arnalds says that the cosy relations between the musicians of Iceland have helped to nurture a scene that has produced many feted artists.

Other Icelandic acts that have made a global impact include singer-songwriter Bjork and, more recently, indie band Of Monsters And Men.

"I'm not sure if there is a certain common trait, but musicians here are generally very bold and tend not too care too much about making the music commercial and marketable," he says.

"I think it's because Iceland is such a small place and the music scene is especially small and close-knit." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network


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