Avril Lavigne was supposed to be on tour right now. But when the novel coronavirus stuck, she, like practically every other artist on the planet, was forced to cancel.
But the Canadian songstress didn’t want to just sit at home and do nothing. While glued to the news, Lavigne became motivated by the work that the medical professionals and essential workers have been doing to keep the world running.
She was immediately inspired to give back. “I was at home racking my brain like what could I do?” she says. “Everyone out there on the frontlines, they are warriors.”
This made Lavigne think of “Warriors,” a tune off her sixth studio album. She changed the lyrics to apply to the frontline workers of the moment, and re-recorded it from her home studio as “We Are Warriors.” The original tune was written about Lavigne’s battle with Lyme disease and, as she has found immense strength in the tune herself in the past, she thought it would be the perfect gift to those who need some comfort right now. “I changed it from ‘I’m a warrior’ to ‘we are warriors,’” she explains. She hopes that those risking their lives to save others during the pandemic can find some power in lines like: “Cause we are warriors, we’ll fight for our lives. Like soldiers all through the night.”
After wrapping up the tune, Lavigne sent it off to Lindsey Stirling to lend her violin to the track. “She’s so talented and she and I were wanting to work together for a very long time. So this was the perfect opportunity,” she explains, nothing that she was thrilled with the additions that the collaboration provided.
Lavigne enlisted the help of her fans to “submit videos of themselves with signs and shoutouts to people that they know who are warriors.” Then she shot a music video on her own. “I filmed it on an iPhone on a tripod in my backyard and in my studio,” she reveals, joking that after this quarantine, she’ll have “like 20 more things” to add to her resume.
The proceeds from the track have a charitable angle attached. “I wanted to have the proceeds go towards the fight against COVID so I partnered up with Project HOPE and they’re providing PPE to those that need it,” she tells American Songwriter. She will be doing some talk show performances or virtual live streams coming up
In addition to re-imagining “Warrior,” Lavigne has been spending her downtime cooking, cleaning, and working on some creative projects, which she’s not ready to discuss yet. But she reveals that she’d like to release some music in 2021 and that she’s started working on new material, which could be the basis of her next album.
Nowadays, Lavigne says a lot of her songwriting starts off by putting together some ideas on her own. If she brings somebody else in, it’s typically towards the end of the process. And if she’s collaborating with certain writers, they may kick off an idea in tandem.
“Like when Lauren Christy and I get together, she’s at the piano and I’m spitting out ideas and we do it together,” Lavigne says. In the past, she used to write with a guitar or another guitar player in the room. But this process, she says, has changed throughout the years. “Typically, like the last album, a lot of songs I do are the piano on my own.”
Lavigne describes her typical process as coming up with a concept and a lot of lyrics, jotting everything down, and then singing acapella into her phone. “I send it to a producer and then he’ll do a track and send it back or I’ll go sit down at the piano after I have a concept,” she says. “I have a really special piano in my house. And it’s been very inspiring and triggered a lot of ideas for my songwriting.”
Lavigne also jokes that the curse of creativity is that it comes on its own time. For instance on “I Fell in Love with the Devil,” off her last album, Head Above Water, she wrote the chorus line downstairs at the piano and then went to bed. “One night I couldn’t sleep. It’s like three in the morning. I went into my studio on a keyboard and all lyrics for those verses came out,” she recalls.
And this, she jokes, is how it typically goes – late at night when she should be in bed. “I’ll write a song over the course of a few days and it’s like when no one’s around, phones go off and everything shuts down, when I’m supposed to be sleeping, then I start hearing it all my head. So I have to get up and grab my paper or take the notepad into the studio.”