After opening up about the severe case of Lyme disease that left her bedridden and her fans worried for months, Avril Lavigne is ready to discuss the future of her career. The 30-year-old singer-songwriter will veer away from her long-held pattern of an album release and coinciding tour to focus on “passion projects,” as Lavigne puts it to Billboard.
“I haven’t stopped working since I was 15,” says Lavigne, who revealed in a People cover story last week that a battle with Lyme disease — contracted through a bug bite sometime last spring — had left her stationary for five months. “Just to have this downtime, this time spent with my family, has been really good for me just to take a step back and look at my life, and really get to see who in my life is really there for me when I need them. I’ve had a lot of time to just think, and I’ve never been so clear before, or as close to my family. So there’s been a lot of good that has come out of it. And moving forward, I’m really clear on what I want in life.”
First up for Lavigne is “Fly,” a new single set for an Apr. 16 release that is tied to the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, scheduled to take place in Los Angeles from July 25 to Aug. 2. All proceeds from sales of the song will be given to the Special Olympics, and a music video starring Lavigne and Special Olympics athletes will also be released.
Lavigne says that she wrote “Fly” roughly two years ago for the Avril Lavigne Foundation, her own nonprofit founded in 2010. The foundation previously partnered with Easter Seals to promote recreational programming for youth with disabilities, and in 2014, the singer first collaborated with Special Olympics to help raise funds in order to send 30 athletes to the 2015 games.
“The song is really inspirational and means a lot to me — and with the Special Olympics, it’s a natural fit,” says Lavigne of the release. As for the song itself, which Lavigne hopes to perform at this summer’s ceremony, she says that “Fly” is composed of a “piano, orchestra and kick drum. Originally I went for a more pop production, and then I scrapped it. I wanted it to be more stripped-down, and let the vocal be the lead part of the song.”
Lavigne says that her recent battle with illness has pushed her to pursue projects that are outside of her comfort zone but for which she feels strongly. Her most recent album, a self-titled fifth studio set, was released in 2013, but its proper follow-up will likely have to wait for her first holiday collection. “I’ve always wanted to make a Christmas album, but I’ve never had the time,” she says. “But now it’s like, ‘You know what, just do it!’ Because that’s something I really want to do, so that’s going to be next for me.”
Meanwhile, Lavigne is ready to make her silver screen return after appearing in Richard Linklater’s Fast Food Nation in 2006. “I really want to work on a film,” she says. “I’ve got a couple things lining up right now, so of course I can’t say [which film]. I’m figuring out a couple things.”
And for those who worry that Lavigne’s heart is not set on recording new music, fear not: the pop veteran says that the day that she started feeling better from her illness, she picked up her guitar and wrote a song in her bed. “This is all happening organically — I wasn’t thinking, oh, when am I going to make a record? It just happened,” she says. “I wrote a song, and I want to release that song this year too, because it’s about my battle and the fight that I’ve had to put up.”
All of these plans, of course, hinge on Lavigne’s health: after the singer hinted that she was suffering from an undisclosed illness last December, she waited until last week to reveal that she had had trouble talking, moving and breathing while battling Lyme disease for months. Lavigne says that she has been feeling “pretty good” lately, and now that the news is out there, she plans to bring awareness to the disease in the coming months.
“I feel like I have a responsibility — I can’t just sit on my ass and do nothing,” says Lavigne. “I need to talk about Lyme disease, because it’s real, it’s out there, it was a simple bug bite and it could happen to anybody. People need to know about it, because it’s not talked about that much and a lot of the information that’s out there is inaccurate.”
As hard as the past few months have been for the singer, Lavigne says that slowing her career down after releasing five albums in 11 years and finding time to pursue her passions have resulted in a net gain for her. “I’m doing things at my speed and never being too overwhelmed, like the way I have in the past,” she says. “I really want to enjoy everything, because life is good. And even though this circumstance is unfortunate, I think there are a lot of positives with it. I’m definitely choosing to view it that way.”