In 2018, then-unknown Ava Max skyrocketed to the top of the charts with her debut single, “Sweet but Psycho.” Since then, she’s become a force to reckon with in the music industry — and she’s not going anywhere any time soon. So, who is Ava Max? Keep reading to learn all about the Albanian pop star.
Max and her family moved a lot when she was a kid.
Ava Max — born Amanda Ava Koci — is the daughter of Albanian immigrants Paul and Andrea. They fled Albania in 1991 after the demise of the country’s communist regime and, after living in a church in Paris for a year, obtained U.S. passports and moved to Wisconsin, where Max was born.
Max and her family didn’t stay in Wisconsin for long, though. In fact, they didn’t stay in any one place for long, and that’s largely because of Max.
When she was only a few years old, Max moved to Virginia. She and her family stayed there for a while, but eventually, Max’s parents relocated the family to L.A. to help Max get her singing career off the ground.
“School was not a good experience,” Max told Rolling Stone. “I would get bullied. It was really hard for me to get along with people who didn’t have the same goals, so I just wanted to get to California.”
Things didn’t go as planned in L.A., so not too long after moving to the West coast, they moved back East to South Carolina. When Max was 17, though, she went back to L.A. and stayed there.
It took her a while to find success in the industry.
In her interview with Rolling Stone, Max explained that it took her a while to find someone — a record label, a producer, anyone — who believed in her and her music.
“It was very tough to get people to believe in my project,” she told the music outlet, noting that it took her years to find a producer whom she vibed with. “Everyone had their own ideas, and they wanted to mold me into something I wasn’t.”
Eventually, Max ended up at a birthday party for Cirkut, a record producer who’s worked with big artists like Katy Perry, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus. She ended up performing a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for him — and that was the beginning of a successful partnership.
“I ended up in the sound that I’ve always wanted to be in,” Max said. “I never had the right opportunity to get there until I met Cirkut, until he let me express myself and be free.” With Cirkut’s help, Max signed with Atlantic in 2017 and went on to create the synth-pop song of the summer, “Sweet but Psycho.”
She blew up on TikTok with “Kings & Queens.”
Recently, “Kings & Queens,” Max’s fifth single from her debut studio album, blew up on TikTok. Released on March 12, 2020, the song became an empowering anthem for people to use while they proudly showed off their cultural heritage. At the time of writing, the most popular version of the “Kings & Queens” sound on TikTok has 242,000 videos.
She has a signature hairstyle.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Max revealed that she came up with the hairstyle herself in 2016 using only a pair of shears and some heated tools — albeit completely by accident.
“It was funny, ’cause I was actually experimenting with different haircuts and colors, pink hair, blue hair, all that kind of stuff,” she said. “Nothing felt like me. One day I cut my hair, my actual hair, cut it on the right side, and I remember I had something in the oven— I think they were chocolate chip cookies. And I run downstairs without cutting the other side … I run downstairs, and then I’m like, ‘Oh my God, [the cookies] almost burnt.’ As I’m going [back] upstairs, I see in the mirror my reflection and the haircut, and … I literally tilted my head, like, why does this feel like me? It felt like me, like I had found myself.”
She’s already had two songs on the Billboard Hot 100.
Though she’s only released one album to date, Max has already had two songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart: “Sweet but Psycho,” which peaked at No. 10, and “Kings & Queens,” which peaked at No. 37.
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