AViVA talks new singles ‘Fake Friends’ and ‘Rodeo’ and the life-changing power of blue jeans

“If you’re a true artist, you want to keep testing boundaries and changing,” AViVA tells us of the force behind her artistry.  

Australian artist AViVA captured the world’s attention with 2017’s ‘GRRRLS’, and in the years since that viral release, she’s only continued hitting new strides.

AViVA now boasts over a billion streams to her name, a Billboard top ten hit, and what’s sure to be yet another explosive release in the works with an upcoming album. 

AViVA interview

We’ve already been treated to the greatness that’s to come with ‘Fake Friends’, AViVA’s just-released single lifted from the forthcoming record.

Further fuelling her star power, AViVA recently joined forces with Y.O.G.A. — the music project of Peking Duk’s Reuben Styles — for the country-infused single ‘Rodeo’. 

All of it feels like the beginnings of yet another breakout moment for AViVA, so we caught up with her at the cusp of her ascent.

Below, the singer-songwriter dishes on everything from ‘Fake Friends’ to collaboration to the affirmative power of a pair of blue jeans.

Scroll down for our complete interview with AViVA, and keep an eye out for her Live from Happy session with Styles, arriving later this month.    

HAPPY: You’ve described your artistry as being an outsider, and your fans are called outsiders themselves. Do you think your creativity or inspiration comes from this outsider status? How does that play into your music?

AVIVA: I think we can all identify with being outsiders in some way. There’s no one part of anyone that’s completely homogenous.

I think for me, particularly in my youth and when I was a teenager, the things that made me feel different to other people were what became core parts of who I am.

My taste, the things that I liked, that were not necessarily cool or trending at the time. I always just liked what I like and I don’t care what other people think of those things. So I think that individuality filters through.

So, a lot of my songs are about experiences, they’re not direct. The lyrics are not obvious what I’m talking about, because I don’t want to put my experience onto the listeners, because they’ve got their own experience.

Maybe they never had XYZ happen to them, but JKM happened to them so they just transpose that.

But for me, all my life’s experiences, like interactions with friends and relationships are basically the fodder for my writing, and that comes through as the outsiders experience, especially in those times when you feel more isolated from people. 

That’s why I think it’s really important to not be too specific about my songs.

I’m never like ‘it’s about this one time where this thing happened to me’, because I don’t want people to listen to the song with a preconceived notion about what they should be thinking or feeling.  


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HAPPY: You’ve got a fifth studio album in the works. Why was ‘Fake Friends’ the right choice as one of the previews or first tastes for the album?

AVIVA: Well, for starters I think because it’s a pretty universal experience. You know, we’ve all had a fake friend and as I’ve said, if you haven’t had a fake friend then you are the fake friend [laughs].

Horrible as it sounds, it’s true. So I think that’s one of the reasons, but I also just really liked the sound. It’s really different to my other sounds.

It’s got more of a grungy, sort of 90s feel to it, which is fun, but also a bit different for the AViVA sound. Also, I just really like the song. It’s catchy, easy to sing along to. 

HAPPY: Do you think changing your sound up like on ‘Fake Friends’ is an evolution that comes naturally, or is there value in just refining what you know as an artist?

AVIVA: I think there’s value to both. As people, we evolve as we grow. As a human, you should be trying to constantly grow and learn and develop.

As an artist — and I mean that as a capital A artist in all mediums — you want to, if you’re passionate and you’re a true artist, you want to keep testing boundaries and changing.

But it’s also impossible to change completely and be authentic. So when you see an artist that comes out in this breakaway, whole new look or this whole new sound, they’re not actually being authentic.

I know that’s a big statement and it’s a sweeping statement, but I believe it and I would stand strong believing that. It’s just more about a ploy than about being true as an artist.

Because you can’t actually pretend that the past version of you didn’t exist. You can’t pretend that past art didn’t exist. We are all in evolution of our past.

You can stick your head in the sand, but the world still revolves around where you’re hiding from. So for me, personally, I love all my previous works, and I also like to keep things fresh and interesting, because I don’t want to get bored.

So I think it’s about finding the parts from the past that I want to keep moving through, and the parts where I’m like ‘I did that, I loved it, now what can we shift?’. 

HAPPY: Do you think there’s lessons to be gained from losing fake friends, or is it more of a good riddance situation? 

AVIVA: I think there’s lessons, but I view the world through a lens of growing and trying to find a positive, trying to find a reason.

If you burn every bridge and you look at the world through a ‘screw them, who cares’ attitude, you’re the only person that gets upset. They say no one gets more hurt from revenge than the person who’s trying to get revenge.

So I think it’s important to try to remember to learn something. Even if you’re hurt, even if you never forget it, even if you make up eventually or whatever happens.

It’s always important to learn, and sometimes that lesson might just be: don’t trust that person again. 


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HAPPY: What else can listeners expect from your upcoming album? Any teases for us?

AVIVA: The ‘Fake Friends’ sound — that sort of grungy, 90s — there are some other songs that have that element. Of course, this album has my mandatory empowerment ethos.

I’m definitely not about wallowing. There are elements of wallowing in some songs, but I’m more about finding strength through the difficulty.

Fighting through the sandstorm and coming out the other side stronger, better, wiser, and happier in yourself. The title song is one of my favourite songs ever, but I won’t say in what order that’s coming out.

Definitely there are a couple of throwbacks in some of the lyrics — if you’re an outsider or a superfan — there are some throwbacks in some of the lyrics that go back to album one and album two. 

HAPPY: Moving on to Rodeo. I think we’re seeing a bit of resurgence in country or western moments in music and in things like fashion. Why was this an exciting aesthetic to pull from for the song?

AVIVA: I like country music a lot. I’ve always liked it and I would say I actually love it now. In terms of the style of country, I think art gets lumped together.

One one thing starts to take off, then so does everything. If you asked my grandmother what country music she likes, she’d talk about Slim Dusty, but I think people are drawn to the country aesthetic because it harks back to a simpler time.

Everything is much more complicated now, and a lot of the themes in country are about friendship and heartbreak and getting on with things. P

articularly with social media, it’s very hard, especially for young people to do that, because you’re bombarded. So I think that’s actually what’s at the root of the country movement that we’re feeling in art right now, I think that’s why it’s so attractive to people.

Then you have big names like Beyonce making it more of a big moment. But I think fundamentally, the reason we’re drawn to it is because it does hark back to a simpler life and a simpler time.


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HAPPY: What was it like collaborating with Reuben for the track?

AVIVA: So easy. He’s so fun and nice and we really got along really well. We recorded the demo vocals and it immediately clicked. Clicked for me to sing the song, clicked for him to have my voice.

We went and recorded it at a studio in Redfern. From there it kind of snowballed into shenanigans during the dance and getting all the social media assets together.

The more I was wearing the country clothes the more I was like, ‘this is the real me, I like this version of me! Where have my blue jeans been.’ It gives you a little kick!