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!”