Q&A: A conversation with Ava Earl, Northwestern singer-songwriter and romantic


Kimberly Espinosa/The Daily Northwestern

Earl visited the newsroom Tuesday to get a feel for the concert space.

Esther Lim, Reporter

Weinberg sophomore and musician Ava Earl is a proud self-proclaimed romantic.

Earl said her romanticization of the people and places of her life, from the great outdoors surrounding her hometown of Girdwood, Alaska to Chicago’s bustling city lights, is a key piece of her songwriting process.

For her upcoming fifth studio album, which she hopes to release this spring, Earl said she is taking a more self-reflective direction as she pulls inspiration from her own coming-of-age story — which includes losing hearing in her right ear and her journey of self-discovery.

As the first artist to be featured on Notes from the Newsroom, Earl sat down for a chat about her upcoming jam session at The Daily’s newsroom and what’s next for her.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily: You’re the first artist performing for The Daily’s concert series, Notes from the Newsroom — how are you feeling?

Earl: I’m a little nervous because it’s a venue I’m less comfortable with. When I do sit-down concerts, it’s usually for my family or roommates and friends, but I’m really excited. I’ve been telling everyone about it. It feels very busy and bustling in there, which I like.

The Daily: Can you tell me about your set list?

Earl: I chose “Ears Bleed,” which is a song about my deafness. It’s going to be on the new album, and I think it’s one of the best songs that I’ve written because I don’t think anyone else could have written that song, which I don’t always feel. This is a very unique perspective. I still think it’s relatable in certain ways, but I feel like people can feel that it’s very raw. I like to play it because it’s best done live, and I’m planning to close with it.

The Daily: How did you grow into the Americana genre?

Earl: The term Americana came to me when I released “The Roses,” produced by JT Nero of the band Birds of Chicago, and the music he makes is the epitome of Americana music. Americana is whatever you make of it, but when I think of Americana, I think of JT and his sound. I realized that this term can be very flexible and it takes all of these inspirations that I have and kind of marries them.

The Daily: If Americana is what you make of it, what does it mean to you?

Earl: When I think of the “ideal” of America, it’s the melting pot, cultural discoveries and we’re all learning about each other and we all come from different places. That is the reality, but we don’t all appreciate it the way that we maybe should. There’s also a history of oppression. I think Americana acknowledges that different cultures have brought about different genres of music, and it has mixed into this very fluid genre.

The Daily: How has your personal journey of learning about your queerness shaped you as a musician?

Earl: I was very much in denial about my sexuality, and it’s so ridiculous because I look back now and I’m like, I wrote all the songs about women! So it’s just been very interesting to recognize that it wasn’t just one person — this is actually a real feeling that I had that I dismissed. And I was able to not only express that through music but also track it back to my first expressions of it, which were through songs that I wrote just for myself. I think that’s what’s at the core of music.

The Daily: And the most important question of all: If your music were food, what would it be?

Earl: I feel like my music would be a variety of fruit — that’s very funny to answer right after the queerness question! But I feel like there’s a lot of range of flavor, but there’s the same vibe. It all tends to be relatively gentle. Care-free, in a way.

To catch Earl’s concert, tune into the livestream on Instagram or watch the recording on YouTube

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @EshLim1213

Related Stories:

Musician of the Week: Singer-songwriter Ava Earl learns to smell the roses with her latest album

Sound Source: Deep Dive: Ava Earl

SWAN creates a space for developing NU musicians at Battle of the Bands