Finding Her Voice After Reality TV | Meet Avalon Young

Avalon Young is the type of girl you want to hang out with. She's cool without feeling distant, and has this disarming smile that hides the fact that she was an American Idol Season 15 finalist that wowed millions of prime time viewers with her soulful voice and creative renditions of pop favorites by the likes of Justin Bieber and Chris Brown. She didn't win Idol, but I think that's a good thing because her vision is clearly bigger than just being a reality TV star. Check out our conversation below.

Can you tell us a little bit about San Diego's significance?
San Diego plays a huge part in how I began my journey as a musician. The scene over there is mostly acoustic, at least it was where I used to kick it. I began as an acoustic musician because guitar was the only instrument I really knew how to use. I didn't get into R&B until I linked up with Jesse Barrera, who is an insanely good producer and friend. He's one of the people who has influenced me the most.

I used to go this spot called Lestat's every Monday because they had a super dope open mic, and I met a lot of amazing and talented people there. That was the first place I performed on a stage in front of a crowd.

Can you tell us about your journey from being on American Idol to owning your identity as an artist?
This question is always so crazy to me, because it makes me run my whole career back in my head. This year has been so crazy. I have been making music before the show and I put out two EP's, and I remember being so frustrated because I just wanted people to listen to my music.

Then, when American Idol came along, it was like an overnight sensation. It was almost like I couldn't say or do anything without everyone listening. Honestly, American Idol was an amazing experience that I'm going to cherish for the rest of my life, especially with the way my life has transformed since being off the show. I've been on multiple tours, released a debut album, collaborated with people I was a fan of... it's been insane.

You've been touring a lot this year. What city or show has been the most memorable? What's your favorite part of being on the road?
So far, my two favorite cities to perform in have been San Diego and Brooklyn. I'm from San Diego, so it's nice to go back home to an audience that's gonna show you love. Recently, I played a show at Rough Trade in Brooklyn with Xavier Omär and the crowd had such amazing energy, it was nuts. I love an audience who is accepting of your message and your music, even though they may not have even known who you were before the show. They were an amazing crowd. I love Brooklyn.

“You can't hide your creativity inside the four walls of your room forever. You know? I used to write, play guitar, and make videos in my room all day long. It's such a feeling of validation once you take your talent somewhere and share it with other people."

What was the process of recording Shift?
Shift was such an incredible project because I got to make it with a team who really felt like family. Midi Jones produced the entire album, and Jordyn Dodd-Waddington was a huge part of the writing process. I felt like I really got to express myself through that album and a lot of the songs were about real people and situations. When it hit #2 on the R&B charts, we went crazy. I felt like it was all worth it. The main goal with making music is to create something that everyone will love.

I know you have a pretty large and loyal fanbase, can you tell us a little bit about them?
My fan base is so amazing. I feel like I got so blessed to have the types of fans that I do. We're all so close and they support everything that I do. It's an amazing feeling to know that they have my back, because the music industry can be tough sometimes. They're like my best friends.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only have 5 records to listen to, which ones would you choose?
Take Care - Drake, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West, Bon Iver - Bon Iver, PARTYNEXTDOOR - PARTYNEXTDOOR, and The High Road - JoJo.

Like the last question, but what are 5 snacks that you will have?
Better cheddars, chocolate covered raisins, Chex Mix, cashews, and sour cream and cheddar Ruffles.

What's coming up next for Avalon? 
We have so much in the works right now which is so exciting. 2017 is going to be a huge year for us. New music, new tours. I can't wait to get back on the road and meet more people and perform on more stages, and I'm beyond stoked to make some brand new R&B.

Any advice for burgeoning singers/artists?
As cliché as this sounds, you really just have to f**king do it. You have to put your art, whether it be a photo, a painting, a dance piece, a song, into the world. You can't hide your creativity inside the four walls of your room forever. You know? I used to write, play guitar, and make videos in my room all day long. It's such a feeling of validation once you take your talent somewhere and share it with other people. Open mics, playing a small set at a show, entering into a contest, even making YouTube videos. You have to share it with other people.

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
MISSBISH to me is all about the strength of women. It's about women being able to express themselves through any form of creativity, and empowering each other to do so.

Who’s your MISSBISH? Tell us who she is, and why she’s an inspiration to you.
Honestly, my MISSBISH would have to be my mom. I know it sounds cliché, but she's a huge part of why I've been so confident in myself when it comes to music. Before things started finally working out for me in my career, I had days where I thought it would be best for me to give the music a rest and focus on what I thought was a 'real job,' but my mom never let me. She always told me 'You can't give up yet because I'm not ready for you to give up yet.'

Now I realize that music is my 'real job' and giving up music would be impossible for me. It's something I can't live without.

My mom has been through all types of sh*t, but has gracefully overcome every obstacle in her way. I'm so blessed to have someone like her in my life.

Photos by: Yumi Yamsuan

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