Ava Toton, who already has an EP under her belt, recently released two new singles to add to her powerful Rock music library. The young rock star is a talent worth watching. We had the pleasure of interviewing Ava Toton and asking her about her new music as well as some of her thoughts on various topics.
Hello, Ava. I’m happy to be talking with you. How is 2023 treating you so far?
2023 has been pretty good so far. My band Alpha Z is working on an original song, and we will be performing in some local festivals and gigs this spring and summer. We are hoping to be one of the 8 bands picked for a Battle of the Bands in March 2023. The grand prize is $5,000 so we are working hard on being one of those 8 bands. Other than that, the year has been pretty uneventful so far. It (2023) doesn’t seem so focused on the pandemic anymore and a lot more live music is starting to happen so that is a positive turn of events. I’m looking forward to performing live music as much as I can.
You have recently released two new singles. How do you feel about the way people reacted to “Embers” and “Like A Girl”?
I think that people really enjoy the songs. Embers is about handling rejection and rolling with the punches in life and moving on. Like a Girl is about empowering girls to break out of the traditional norms and do what they like. These are messages that a lot of people can relate to. There aren’t many rock songs about female empowerment out there. I submitted this song to many playlists and the one rejection that made me laugh was someone saying that my voice isn’t feminine enough for a song called Like A Girl. I think it is a bit ironic. That’s the point of the song. I can be anything. Even a girl with a deep voice shredding a guitar singing about how amazing it is to be a girl. There are a lot of songs like Embers but I like watching people listen to the song. Many get emotional listening to it. I think it resonates with a lot of people, no matter their age or gender or life experience. We all have those times we feel like everything is going wrong but we know that we can be on top again soon.
How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard your music before?
My sound is a mix of hard rock, punk, glam metal, heavy metal with moody teen angst and cool guitar solos and heavy drums.
You are a very young musician with a unique style. What bands and musicians would you say have inspired you and affected your approach to creating your own music?
When I was around 8 years old, my favorite band was AC/DC. I played a lot of TNT and Highway to Hell at open mics. I also listened to a lot of glam metal–which my mom listens to a lot. Over the past few years, I’ve really gotten into bands such as Megadeth and Metallica.
In order to get to know you better and from a different point of view, how about playing an imagination game? I will set a scenario in an alternate universe with new rules and see how you’d react to the different situations. Ready?
In a universe where you are the queen of a country, what would be the first law you’d make?
I’d cut the school week to 4 days a week and only 5 hours a day, giving young people time to do more extracurricular activities (sports, music, dance, etc…) and less time doing homework. These would be affordable (or free) and count towards education hour requirements. I changed to independent learning the second half of this year and realized I am doing all of my work in much fewer hours and I am able to put focus on things that make me happy instead of stressing about school or feeling exhausted from the long days there. This might not make sense to a lot of people but the truth is there are a lot of kids under too much pressure these days, especially academically. It seems like kids need more introduction to other pathways in life. Not everyone is going to be an engineer. Some of us are going to be artists. Society needs both. I’d also recreate the school lunch menu. It needs a complete overhaul. Start by making things edible.
In a universe where humans can choose either to be able to teleport from one place to another or travel back and forth in time, which superpower would you pick?
I would probably choose teleportation. You could go anywhere you want and see anyone you want instantly without having to be in a car or plane, which is pretty cool.
In a universe where you’re the statue of liberty, what object would you be holding instead of a torch?
This is easy! I would definitely hold a guitar, because that’s my thing. I’m definitely a guitarist over anything else.
In a universe where money does not exist, but instead, people pay for things by making other people laugh, how rich would you be considered?
I would be destitute and homeless. I’m probably the least funny person ever. Actually, my humor is pretty dry and sometimes people don’t get it.
In a universe where the senses of taste and hearing are mixed up together, what food would you imagine your music would taste like?
Something spicy and in your face from the first taste. Just by smelling it you know you’re in for an experience. Maybe it makes you cough and your eyes and nose run. But not too filling because you still want more or it’s so good that even though you are full you keep eating it. Pad Kee Mao (Thai dish, also called drunken noodles) would work for this scenario. On the menu it comes in six levels of spiciness and I still haven’t been able to work my way up to “Extra Thai spicy”. I’m on level 3/medium. Just like my guitar skills, I know it’s really good now. No doubt. But there are many levels above what I can do today and I continue to work on new guitar skills every week.
In a universe where a theme song plays whenever you wake up announcing the start of your day, what would your song be?
Charm School Dropout, because that’s who I am. I write about my life. Every song has a story and Charm School Dropout is the description of me.
Thank you for playing, Ava! I hope you enjoyed this. Your song “Like A Girl” seems to have very strong women-empowering lyrics. What was the inspiration behind it and what is the message you wanted to send through that song?
I have wanted to write this song for years, with the encouragement of my mom. I used to do Tae Kwon Do (I have a black belt in it) and for my first tournament, when I was 5, they put the girls against the boys. I won the gold medal against a boy and they never put the girls against the boys again. It’s a memory that stands out. Someone decided the boys shouldn’t spar the girls again after a girl won. Or maybe in future tournaments they had enough boys and girls to spar each other. The message that I wanted to send through the song was that girls can do anything against anyone, even themselves.
Have you ever faced any kind of sexism in your professional or personal life? How would you deal with sexist behaviour and what advice would you give young people around the world who face any kind of discrimination?
Every day. Ageism combined with sexism. Little girls shouldn’t be rockers. Rock and roll is not the place for women. Especially young women. I should try to sound more feminine when I sing. I should wear more makeup. I address some of this in Charm School Dropout and some in Like A Girl. I didn’t set out to be a voice of young women like me but I’m willing to take on the role. It’s exhausting to hear the same criticism over and over again. I’m lucky that I live in a place where I can speak my mind and write songs about these types of things. My wish is for girls and women across the world to have those same freedoms at some point in my lifetime. I won’t let up.
Thank you for giving us this interview, Ava. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Being a feminist has been normalized as an irregularity through our patriarchal society, so I'd rather be called a "decent human" than a "feminist man". I breathe Metal and Rock and have a screwed-up sense of humour.