Ava Max Talks Bangers and Barbie With Her Biggest Fan

In the four years since Ava Max dropped her 2019 hit “Sweet but Psycho,” a lot has happened: album delays, hits, misses, collabs, breakups, WorldPride, a Coca-Cola flavor, a Roblox concert, and a global pandemic. It took four years for her first tour—cheekily named “On Tour (Finally)”—to get underway in Europe and America, and the stakes were high. It’s no secret that many artists have struggled to materialize IRL fans from their Spotify playlist placements, but at her New York stop at Irving Plaza, this wasn’t a problem for Max: as she sang, preteens and adult gay men alike shouted along with every word. Max would maintain her composure through the 18-song set, though she did acknowledge breaking a sweat as her dancers handed her a powder puff on a rhinestoned platter. The after-party was no less energetic: crop-top gays and others in designer suits collided on the dancefloor while Drag Race winner Aquaria and two-time Eurovision winner Loreen lip-synced to “Euphoria.” Then Max came on stage and sang two songs before dancing the night away with a glass of wine in hand. The next day, she called me from her tour bus, sounding as bright and animated as ever, to talk European stans, Barbie, and her first headlining tour.


ROSS LEONARDY: How’s it going? 

AVA MAX: Good. I’m on a tour bus on the way to Maryland for a show tonight.

LEONARDY: I was looking at the schedule, and I was like, “Damn, you’re really shooting straight through.”

MAX: It’s wild. And not only that, it’s just non-stop singing. I don’t think I’ve ever done this much singing ever before.

LEONARDY: Well, you’re doing an amazing job. Last night was really fun.

MAX:  Thank you so much. I had a ball! I was really excited to come to New York. Last night was wild—just seeing the fans for the first time in person, finally.

LEONARDY:  I know. I think in 2019 you were doing a show here, and I was trying so hard to get a ticket and I couldn’t. So I’ve just been waiting for four years.

MAX:  I’m sorry. Finally, we’re just gonna be on tour. That’s my life now.

LEONARDY: I loved the New York audience’s energy.

MAX: Oh my god. Literally, every type of fan was in that audience, it feels incredible. I’m happy that my music can reach so many different people. I really try and support people from all walks of life, because I think it’s important to bring everyone together. I think that’s why you see a lot of different age groups and genders and my shows.

LEONARDY: It was really cool. I was surprised because sometimes at pop shows there are kids there but they don’t know all of the words. The little girls there knew everything. They studied

MAX: Its fucking crazy. I’m like, “Wait, aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”

LEONARDY: I saw Christian Siriano in the audience, too. I loved what you two did for the Met Gala.

MAX: Thank you. He’s like my best friend, he’s the sweetest. After the tour, for sure, I’m gonna go back in and do fashion a bit more.

LEONARDY: Did you have fun at the after party?

MAX: Yes, I did. I did two songs, “Kings and Queens” and “Million Dollar Baby,” and we just started going off. It was just a fun party. You know? A vibe.

LEONARDY: Ty [Sunderland] throws a good party.

MAX: I love Ty. He’s so sweet.

LEONARDY: So you actually started the tour off in Europe, and I know that the Europeans go really hard for Ava Max.

MAX: Oh my god. I mean, I feel like they’ve been waiting so long. And I’ve been waiting so long! It was an explosive moment on stage every night.

LEONARDY: Are you excited to go back?

MAX: I’m really excited. I think Spain is the first one, I’m performing at a festival there in July. And I’m looking forward to doing another show in Los Angeles. I’ve lived there for 10 years now, and I think it’s just different doing it at home. It’s like a party with all my closest friends.

LEONARDY: On stage, you were saying “One of Us” was really emotional to sing. Has it been hard to do that every night?

MAX: I feel differently every time. I try not to cry because it definitely gets to me more than any other song. I just have this wave of emotions that take over me during that time. So I never know if I’m gonna cry or not. I get lost in it. But it’s therapeutic, too.

LEONARDY: At least you follow it up with “Dancing’s Done,” which is the perfect end to that record. I also really loved that you put “Belladonna” on the setlist. It’s like a sleeper banger. 

MAX: Oh my god, “Belladonna.” Yeah, that’s a fun one.

LEONARDY: Are there songs that you weren’t able to put on the setlist that you wish you could?

MAX: “Get Outta My Heart”!

LEONARDY: That’s my favorite song from Diamonds & Dancefloors. It’s really special to me, I don’t know why.

MAX: Oh, really? I wish I had done it now! I want to do it on the next setlist whenever I perform after the tour. Maybe for the festival.

LEONARDY: Then I’ll have to fly out to Spain and see it. I’m gonna call up Interview and make them book me a flight.

MAX: Exactly.

LEONARDY: Sorry, I’m getting tongue-tied now. I was nervous about this.

MAX: Don’t be. I’m very, very chill.

LEONARDY: You have that Aquarius energy.

MAX: Yeah, but I’m close to Pisces, too. Like two days, I think. I feel like I’m a little bit of both.

LEONARDY: That’s a very Aquarius answer.

MAX: [Laughs] See? See?

LEONARDY: I read an interview where you said that you’re kind of a hermit. I am, too. How do you deal with meeting so many people?

MAX: I definitely need a lot of me time during the day. I just reserve all my energy during the day and then I let it out during the show and the meet and greet. That’s what I do. I just focus on getting 100% for the show. I try to hone in on the show, and then in the moment enjoy every day for what it is. I really try to live in the moment.

LEONARDY: For sure. Do you have any collabs planned?

MAX: I have a song coming out with Alok called “Car Keys.” The Barbie song, “Choose Your Fighter,” is coming too.

LEONARDY: I’m really excited to see that movie.

MAX: Oh my god, same! I saw half of it, but not the whole thing.

LEONARDY: Are you close to Maryland? 

MAX: I’m like, three hours away I think. I’m excited ‘cause a lot of family members from Virginia, where I’m from, are gonna come too.  It’s gonna be a family affair!

LEONARDY: Well, I’m happy that I got to see you in New York, finally.

MAX: It was nice talking to you! We’re gonna be back. We’re always in New York. Let’s talk soon.