Ava Lake

Unique, original, and talented, Ava Lake is one to watch. A student at DePaul University majoring in marketing and minoring in music, Ava loves to pursue her musical talent in her spare time. I first met Ms. Lake at Thursday Night at the Lounge, an event on campus that I take part in planning. As soon as I heard her sing, I knew I had to interview her for Her Campus. Her sound and stage presence, are unlike any other I’ve experienced before, so please enjoy our quick interview!

Alright, let’s start with the basics! What year are you at DePaul? What’s your major? Any Minors? What organizations/clubs/activities are you involved in at DePaul or just in general?

I am a sophomore marketing major with a minor in music! I am currently involved in music outside of DePaul. I have worked with the “Chicago Vibe” an on campus music review group.

You recently performed at an event on campus called Thursday Night at the Lounge, how was that?

It was fantastic! I love performing as much as I love laughing, which is a lot. It was neat to have people I didn’t know sitting in the lounge when I performed, it made me feel like I was expanding my audience by just performing in a communal place.

During your performance you sang to music from your computer. Do you write/produce your music yourself?

Yes, I produce all my own music on Ableton. I started initially producing music on the glorious Garageband, then I graduated my producing software to FL Studio, and then settled down with Ableton. After getting past the learning curve, Ableton has been my favorite producing software to work with. The reason being is that the program gives me almost complete control in manipulating the sounds I use for my songs, which contributes to the particular sound my music has. 

What is the writing process like for you?

It generally goes one of two ways, either I’ll start writing the music on my computer with a midi keyboard (a keyboard that only plays when connected to a computer), produce the entire song, then write lyrics and record my vocals. Or I will go to the practice rooms in the DePaul Music Annex (a fabulous place that everyone should go to) and mess around on the pianos in the practice rooms until I find a chord progression I like or make up words until I find a melody I like. I then record my fingers playing the chords and audio record my vocals so I can take them back home to transfer/record what I’ve created on Ableton.

How do you produce the music?

I have about eight drum packs that my friends who produce music have sent me that I use for percussion on my tracks. I have a couple Ableton sound packs as well that have a mix of percussion and orchestral/piano/synth sounds in them. I use samples for everything. I generally start using piano as my main melodic instrument, then I produce the percussion by using my drum samples. I love layering drum samples because it makes the drum beats I have like no other producers because no one else is going to layer the exact same way that I do. After I make the drum tracks I’ll go back to the melodic part and layer the piano with more melodic instruments. I love the sound of trumpets so that’s a favorite to add, but I also like to change the sounds up a lot, so I tend to find weird sounds in the Ableton synth library and then adjust the sounds with Soundtoys. Soundtoys are plugins that change the effects of the sounds I work with.

Your stage presence was unreal at your performance! How did you stay so upbeat during those 45 minutes?

Thank you very much! I absolutely love performing. I consider myself a musician, but the reason I make music is so I can perform. I adore being in front of people, the sensation I get from being on stage and singing to an audience is like a high for me. Performing is so much more than just singing, it is being able to give an audience member some sort of feeling. Whether that’s happiness, laughter, my goal is to positively impact the crowd. In addition, I always tell myself before going onstage, the audience wants to be entertained! And it’s my job to entertain them. I would be failing if anyone watching me was bored. I am so dedicated to making sure people enjoy watching me that I don’t care if I’m acting like a goof or doing some strange dance moves, I low-key love doing them anyway.

Have you played at any other events?

Yes I’ve played at venues all over the suburbs in high school for the band program. Last year I performed at Reggie’s Rock Club for the “Girls Rock! Chicago” fundraiser. I am planning to perform at a lot more venues this year.

What artists/bands have inspired you and your music? In what ways?

Amy Winehouse 120%. Her voice is the coolest sound, no one else that I can think of right off the top of my head has a voice as deep as hers. She has a contralto ranged voice which is the lowest female vocal range. I love her music because it is the perfect combination of soul, pop, individuality, and depth. Her music is upbeat but she doesn’t have a super high ranged voice like so many pop singers today. Amy’s story is tragic, and her lyrics evoke this dark, bittersweet theme that I think makes her so unique and individual. I don’t want to be exactly like Amy Winehouse musically, but I think the stories she told, and the way she sang throughout her albums was a defined style, her style. I guess I’d like to be known for my own style, a new contribution to the musical world that could easily trace back to me.

How did you become interested in music?

I grew up with a mother who was addicted to music, and you know what they say, “Like mother like daughter.” My mom has over 5,000 records and buys CDs out the wazoo, so I was never at a loss to find music to listen to. I started taking guitar lessons in 2nd grade, and eventually in 7th or 8th grade I tried out my singing voice. I started to love singing and it made music more exciting to me because I love performing, and marrying the two was truly a dream come true. I did a band program at North Shore Music Institute throughout high school and realized I wanted a more electronic sound from the music I was performing. I also realized I wanted to make the music all myself. After that I struggled to find producing software that gelled with the sound I was going for, until I found Ableton.

Now let’s focus on some fast facts:

Favorite movie: Singing in the Rain.

Favorite food: Sushi, Unagi.

Favorite color: I have three: Blue, Pink, Green...and the occasional silver.

Favorite artist(s)/band(s): AH, too many to count...but standouts: Amy Winehouse, Ella Eyre, The Killers, Rudimental, Vanic, Two Door Cinema Club, John Newman, Major Lazer, Sir Sly...my list could go on forever!

Favorite song at the moment: I can’t stop listening to Let You Get Away -Shaun Frank (ft. Ashe).

Favorite quote: “If there’s a fork in the road take it.” -Yogi Berra.

Favorite class thus far at DePaul: Intro to Music Production or Macroeconomics.

Coke or Pepsi? Neither, I love hot chocolate.

Twitter or Instagram? Instagram.

Night in or Night out? Both...Love going out, but love nights to myself.

Concerts or Movies? Concerts.

Saver or Spender? Saver.

Go to piece of clothing? Doc Martins.

You have a free night, what do you do? Produce music, hangout with friends, discover the next.

Guilty pleasure? Ice cream. I can’t stop eating it.

What are you going to be for Halloween? A marshmallow.

What are you binge watching right now? Kevin Spacey movies, just finished American Beauty, 10/10.

Where can we find your music? I am on Soundcloud, Instagram, and Youtube at Ava Lake please check it out!

If you would like to perform at Thursday Nights at the Lounge email [email protected].