'I'm Going Back to My Roots a Little Bit': Avril Lavigne Signs to BMG, Plans New Album for This Year

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Avril Lavigne attends the 2016 Pre-Grammy Gala and Salute to Industry Icons honoring Irving Azoff at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 14, 2016 in Beverly Hills, Calif. 

Ten years to the week after the release of "Girlfriend," her first ever Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single, Avril Lavigne has some big news for fans. The pop singer-songwriter has signed with a new record label, BMG, and plans to have a new album out before the end of 2017 -- her sixth, and first since 2013's self-titled effort.

"I challenged myself as a songwriter and I wanted to write about topics I hadn't hit on before," Lavigne tells Billboard over email of her process behind the upcoming record. "There's the love topic, but a lot of these songs are about life. I've experienced a lot over the past few years, and some of the songs just came to me. Concepts and lyrics were flowing and I would have to grab my phone to sing into voice memo and write out my lyrics."

Asked if she has a release date in mind for the album, the 32-year-old Ontario native responds "When it's ready lol. Which will be soon." Progress, however, is good so far: "I'm working on the final few tracks. BMG and I are now choosing the right producer for this project."

Many may still associate Lavigne with the pop-punk of the early '00s, but the artists Lavigne currently cites as inspirations couldn't be much further from that scene: "I enjoy listening to Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes -- artists that showcase their vocals and songwriting skills. I listen to a lot of Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and jazz." She says that the new album will see her "going back to my roots a little bit... I got my start in church and at country fairs when I was a young child, and I think those earlier influences are definitely coming out now." 

Though no music is available from the still-untitled record yet, Lavigne thinks she has a song in mind for the first single -- one that came to her "when I was in bed and literally felt like I was dying... in the midst of feeling so close to death, I came up with one of my most true and moving songs."

And while looking towards her future on BMG -- whose U.S. President Repertoire & Marketing Zach Katz she says "completely understood where I was headed with this album" --  Lavigne also allows Billboard a second to reminisce over her "Girlfriend" memories a decade earlier. "I enjoyed every moment of promoting it, performing it, shooting the video -- so so so much fun, and lots of pink hair!" she recalls. "I remember my manager Terry McBride calling me and telling me it went to No. 1. I hope to hear those words again!"

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