'I'd Rather Cry and Dance': How Ava Max Turned Heartbreak Into Euphoric Pop (2023)

The singer opens up for the first time about her deeply personal new albumDiamonds & Dancefloors

The night her hit “Sweet But Psycho” came out, Ava Max almost quit music.

It was 2018 and she’d been at home in her Los Angeles apartment. Her mind started to race: She needed a breakthrough song, and this could be the one – if only it would take off.

“No one knows this but I had a mental breakdown,” she says now, almost five years later. She got down on her knees and started praying, even though she’s not religious. “I’m like, ‘God, please, if you’re listening. I need to pay for my gas. My parents, I want to buy them a house. I just want to help the people I love and I want to perform on big stages and I want to have fans and I want people to relate to my music.’ I was yelling this at the top of my lungs,” she recalls “I said, ‘If “Sweet but Psycho” does nothing, I’m done.’”

Max remembers that she started to cry, but she quickly got up, wiped her face, and told herself, “Oh my god, bitch. Get yourself together.”

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Luckily, the universe listened to her prayers: “Sweet But Psycho” became a force. Spotify added the track to their New Music Friday playlist – the only pop song featured that week, she says. “Isn’t that crazy?” Before she knew it, it had racked up 1.4 billion streams. The song’s sticky melody was a stark contrast to popular chart-toppers at the time, which included Drake’s “In My Feelings,” Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode,” and Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up.” Many artists were veering into R&B, but Max wanted to double down on upbeat, pure pop. “‘Sweet but Psycho’ kind of paved the way for pop music again,” she says.

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On Friday, the Albanian-American pop singer is giving us pure dance-pop once again as she releases her sophomore album Diamonds & Dancefloor. Across 14 songs, all executive-produced by Canadian hitmaker Cirkut, she shows off her signature electro-pop melodies with some Nineties synths and a touch of disco. It’s her first project after signing with Scooter Braun’s SB Projects, and her most honest yet. The album is inspired by major heartbreak she experienced over the last two years and although Max has been private about her personal life in the past, she’s putting everything out there on this record – something that shows just how far she’s continued to go since “Sweet But Psycho.”

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The album isn’t just an evolution from her . She’s looking at it as a kind of catharsis, one that she’s excited to share with the world on Jan. 27. “I’m happy it’s not going to be mine anymore,” she says. “I’ll be like, ‘Okay, it’s over. All the heartbreak is over. And now, we can just dance.’”

I meet up with Max in mid-January and on the drive to her place, I find a 2008 pop/R&B EP that she recorded as a 14-year-old under her first stage name, Amanda Kay. She knew early on that she wanted to be a pop star and was already fighting to make it happen. Once I arrive at her hill-perched house with a view of Malibu beach, I tell her I listened to a copy of the project online. “I’m going to cry. This is horrible,” she jokes. I play her a snippet of a song called “Touch,” and she starts humming along. “Isn’t that funny, listening to that? It’s baby me.”

Max remembers that she struggled early on, but kept pushing toward the music career she wanted. “I was just trying to make an EP and get signed and no one wanted to sign me,” she says. “I was like, ‘Fuck you. I’m still going to try and make it.’”

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Max admits that even though she always wanted to be a pop star, she’s not actually a fan of the razzle-dazzle, “lights, camera, action” part of fame. “People think I can just sing on stage and be crazy. But it’s like, I have to turn that on,” she says. “That’s Ava Max. By myself, I’m Amanda.”

Making music always came naturally to her, and it helped that her parents supported her ambitions. Max’s mom Andrea and dad Pavllo fled Albania in the early Nineties, seeking a better life. “If they didn’t risk their lives, I wouldn’t be here,” she says. “They came here with nothing.”

After settling in Wisconsin, where Max was born, her parents balanced three jobs each to support her and her brother Denis. Her mom worked at a movie theater, a bakery, and as a housecleaner, while her dad juggled cab driving, baking pizzas, and doing electrical engineering. “It’s like they didn’t sleep,” she says. “I remember my mom broke her shoulder and still went to work and was cleaning with a vacuum with her broken shoulder.” Their work ethic inspired her to keep on pushing for more in her own career. “That’s what they call the American dream. They just didn’t stop,” she says. To her, Diamonds & Dancefloors represents the strength and resilience she learned from her family.

In many ways, the album feels like a new side of Max. “I’m actually really shy,” she says. “I just want to hide sometimes. I’m a little hermit.” As we chat, Max cozies up on the couch, wrapped in a sherpa coat, tucking her feet under her. She usually prefers to keep her personal life and her career separate, but that’s all changed on Diamonds & Dancefloors, which is full of intimate lyrics about heartbreak. She knew fans were going to have questions about what happened, so she’s decided to open up and tell me about it. “In a way, it does make me uncomfortable because I don’t like sharing my private life,” she says.

'I'd Rather Cry and Dance':How Ava Max Turned Heartbreak Into Euphoric Pop (1)

Throughout our conversation, Max is cautious with what she shares. She went through two break-ups over the last three years, and the second one, a relationship she ended last June, “really killed me.” By the time she ended that relationship, she’d already released Diamonds & Dancefloors’s lead single “Maybe You’re the Problem,” a synth-pop song that “flew out” of her and captures what she was going through with her previous partner. “You know what I realized?” she says. ”That you can’t lose yourself for anyone. And I almost lost myself last year for someone. This person wanted me to change who I was, my eccentric self. I didn’t realize that at the time. But all my friends and family, they didn’t even recognize me.”

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On “Maybe You’re the Problem,” Max sings about finally realizing that the person she’s with refuses to take any accountability for their behavior. “Drama always follows you home, but I won’t be waiting no more,” she declares on the track. It reflects how she took back her own autonomy. “I just had to choose myself,” she says. “I was like, ‘I’ve worked my entire life for my career. I’m not going to let someone take that away from me.”

Though most of her album was complete at that point, Max chose to postpone the record and get back into the studio with Cirkut, who she calls the “Einstein of music” and her best friend. She wanted to pair her soul-crushing lyrics with upbeat,dance-ready melodies. “When I was in the studio, that was all I could write about: sad lyrics and what I went through,” she says. “But I turned it into dance music.”

What came out was some of Max’s best work yet. Max’s vocals shine on “Ghost” as she sings about “feeling haunted” by her ex over sparkling synth lines. On the disco-drenched “Hold Up, Wait a Minute,” Max questions her partner’s connection with a past love. And her most emotional song on the project, “One of Us,” started as a ballad but transformed into an empowering anthem about coming to terms with the end of a relationship. “Of course, I made it into a dance record,” she says with a laugh. “I have a problem. I just want to dance. I’d rather cry and dance.”

Max worked so hard on the album that she had little time to dwell and mourn about her personal life. “A week after my breakup, I wasn’t in my bed crying. I actually did Pride in London and I didn’t cancel it,” she says. The emotions did get to her at one point during the performance: “No one saw, I turned around and I started bawling, and then I had to get myself together,” she remembers. “It was a week fresh, but I couldn’t cancel on my fans.” She got to “Maybe You’re the Problem,” and belted out the lyrics with her voice quivering, closing her eyes as she powered through the song.

“I think performing got me through it,” she says. “I healed through my performance.”

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She’s also been going through other changes: She has a new look to go with the new album. She’s switched up her signature “Max Cut,” an asymmetrical hairstyle that’s a shoulder-length bob on one side and long on the other. “I just wanted to have fun for a second,” she says. “But I definitely think she’s always going to be a part of me… It’s not gone forever.” She finally feels like she’s in the driver’s seat of her career, a feeling that’s permeating every part of the creative process: Just a few weeks before the album’s release date, she even decided to change the album artwork. “Now, I’m in control of my entire career and it feels good,” she says.

Mostly, she’s excited for people to follow her down such a deeply personal path. “People don’t know this, but it’s just the beginning for me. I’ve just scratched the surface,” she says. “I look around and I’m like, ’Look, you did what you wanted to do, but now what do you want to do? What’s the next step?’” She’s figuring that part out, but already, she’s come so far from theAva Max that was once so close to giving up.

FAQs

What is Ava Max's most famous song? ›

  • Sweet But Psycho. Ava Max. 12.29.18. 06.01.19.
  • Kings & Queens. Ava Max. 08.22.20. 11.28.20.
  • The Motto. Tiesto & Ava Max. 02.12.22. 04.09.22. ...
  • My Head And My Heart. Ava Max. 02.20.21. 03.13.21.

What is the first song of Ava Max? ›

In 2008, Max released an independent extended play on her Myspace profile titled Amanda Kay. She released "Take Away the Pain" under the stage name Ava in 2013, which was later produced by the Canadian duo Project 46 in 2015.

What is Ava Max song? ›

The song was written by Max, Charlie Puth, Maria Jane Smith, Victor Thell, Gigi Grombacher, Roland Spreckley, and the producer Cirkut. It is an electropop song which discusses the importance of self-love, being an outcast and not fitting into society.

What is the number 1 famous song in the world? ›

According to Guinness World Records, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (1942) as performed by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single worldwide, with estimated sales of over 50 million copies.

What are Ava Max fans called? ›

What are Ava Max fans called? The nickname for her fanbase is the Avatars.

Why does Ava Max wear her hair like that? ›

Ava Max ditched her signature hairstyle when she was ready to unleash her new music. The "Maybe You're the Problem" singer shared her new music is completely different from her previous releases and to symbolize the shift in her sound, she changed up her hair.

What color is Ava Max hair? ›

See ya, platinum blonde! Ava Max is changing things up in a big way. The musician just ditched her platinum blonde hair in favor of a traffic-stopping fire-engine red and it's definitely getting me in the holiday spirit.

How old is Jax? ›

How old is Billie Eilish? ›

How old is Ava Max now? ›

What is the No 1 song in the world 2022? ›

Glass Animals' 'Heat Waves' Is the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 Song, Bad Bunny Is Top Artist: Year in Charts 2022.

What is the longest number 1 song ever? ›

"Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus

"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks. It also became the fastest song in history to be certified diamond.

What is the number 1 song in the world right now 2022? ›

Taylor Swift, “Anti-Hero

What are pink fans called? ›

"What does Pink call her fans?" Why, 'pink slips' of course! ;) Alora M. underdogs... I like that one!

What do BTS call their fans? ›

BTS fans, known as the A.R.M.Y.

What are Olivia Rodrigo fans called? ›

Some of Olivia Rodrigo fans are calling themselves "Livies."

Does Ava wear a wig? ›

According to uniwigs, Ava Max does not wear a wig; instead, she has a one-of-a-kind haircut that she refers to as the Max-Cut, which is made up of her natural hair. The Max-Cut is an entirely original style of her own, a haircut that she thinks best shows her unique personality.

Why is Ava Max's hair half long half short? ›

Ava Max knows her haircut is “polarizing.” “It's a love-hate thing,” Ava tells StyleCaster about her signature half-short, half-long hairstyle. “It's very polarizing.” As she's explained before, Ava's haircut came from an accident after she was baking cookies while cutting her hair and forgot to cut the other side.

Who was Ava Max inspired by? ›

Max grew up listening to artists including Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Fugees, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston. She also cited Beyoncé, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Fergie, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Gaga as some of her influences.

Is there a Colour called Ava? ›

Ava white is inspired by the girl's name Ava, meaning “life”. This off white is perfect for breathing new life into your home. Crisp, and refreshing this shade is beautiful for creating a light and airy space.

Is Ava Max popular? ›

She then changed her stage name to Ava Max and later on became a very successful pop artist. She has released multiple radio hits and has over 34 million listeners on Spotify, but does she deserve this popularity, or even more?

What is the color for Ava? ›

Ava white is inspired by the girl's name Ava, meaning “life”. This off white is perfect for breathing new life into your home. Crisp, and refreshing this shade is beautiful for creating a light and airy space.
...
Additional Information.
SKUCT-030-090-master
Weight0 lbs
1 more row

Is Jax a demon? ›

Jax was a demon who worked for Kurzon, a demon exiled by the previous Source of All Evil.

Did Jax turn rat? ›

In season three, Jax tells Stahl that he's willing to give up the IRA member, Jimmy O., in order to keep the club out of prison, essentially becoming a rat. After the deal is done, Stahl gives up Jax as a rat and a huge fight ensues.

How old is Jax mk9? ›

Jax Briggs
NationalityAfrican-American
BornMay 5, 1975
Age47
StatusAlive
22 more rows

What is Max's favorite song stranger thing? ›

Why? Well, we can all thank Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink), who makes “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” her personal anthem in Season 4 of Stranger Things. On the show, the song is more than just Max's favorite tune.

What is the most famous song from a movie? ›

The 100 greatest movie songs of all time, ranked
  • Gene Kelly - 'Singin' in the Rain' (Singin' in the Rain) ...
  • Bette Midler - 'The Wind Beneath My Wings' (Beaches) ...
  • John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John - 'You're the One that I Want' (Grease) ...
  • Dolly Parton - '9 to 5' (9 to 5) ...
  • Celine Dion - 'My Heart Will Go On' (Titanic)
Mar 25, 2022

Did Ava Max won a Grammy? ›

Ava Max has not won nor has she been nominated for a Grammy award.

What is Max's favorite song and why? ›

We learn that Max's favourite song is Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill' and it's used in episode 4 in the most moving way. In fact, it's so moving that Kate Bush is now soaring up charts all around the world.

Why does Vecna want Max? ›

Of course, the real reason Max became Vecna's victim was because creators the Duffer brothers and producer/director Shawn Levy wanted to showcase Sink's talent and really allow her to get some meaty material to work with this season.

What is the creepy song in Stranger Things? ›

The Police, "Every Breath You Take" - Season 2, Episode 9

It was later revealed by the show's creators, however, that the song's creepy lyrics were a very intentional indication that the Upside Down monsters weren't done tormenting Hawkins.

What did Vecna do to Max? ›

At the end of Stranger Things season 4, Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) is briefly killed by Vecna after he breaks her limbs and takes her eyes. However, Eleven resurrects Max using her powers, which still leaves her broken, blind, and in a braindead coma heading into Stranger Things season 5.

What is the top 1 movie of all time? ›

Gone with the Wind—first released in 1939—is generally considered to be the most successful film, with Guinness World Records in 2014 estimating its adjusted global gross at $3.4 billion.

What is the number 1 best movie of all time? ›

1. Citizen Kane (1941)

Who is the youngest actress to win a Grammy? ›

LeAnn Rimes

This “Blue” belter earned her Grammy street cred as the youngest individual winner ever. At the tender age of 14 years old (plus a 182 days), LeAnn Rimes accepted her first two trophies in 1997.

Who is the biggest Grammy winner of all time? ›

Georg Solti, 31

Not only does the late conductor Georg Solti hold the record for the most GRAMMY Awards won in any genre with 31, he has the most wins in the Classical Field. Solti's last win was for Best Opera Recording for Wagner: Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg for 1997.

Who is the highest Grammy? ›

Georg Solti holds the record for most Grammy awards, having received 31 in his career, according to the Recording Academy. The orchestra conductor also holds the record for most wins in the classical field. During his career, Solti was nominated for 74 Grammys.

What does music do to Vecna? ›

If Vecna has you in a trance, listening to your favorite song can help pull you out of it, as we saw when Vecna attacked Max only for her friends to pull her out his trance using the synth-tastic stylings of Kate Bush, specifically her 1985 hit “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God).”

What episode does Vecna get Max? ›

But arguably the most emotionally powerful scene of the season's first volume arrives in episode 4, when Max (Sadie Sink) is held psychologically captive by Vecna, a serial killer from the Upside Down who entrances and tortures his victims with their worst fears and experiences before murdering them.

How did Max survive Vecna? ›

Midway through the season, Vecna made his move and tried to make Max his fourth victim. Luckily, Lucas was able to save her by playing Kate Bush's "Running Up that Hill." Going into Volume 2, Max was alive, but she was still marked by Vecna.

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