Ava Toton: born to rock
First of all, Ava Toton is a teenager that seems to have lived 120 years at only 12: she’s only twelve, but she shows an old soul in terms of making the best rock and roll music you’ll ever hear in 2022. She was born on Sunset Boulevard – California, the same place that witnessed bands like Guns N’ Roses come out of the blue. As Lisa Nelson, her proud mother tells us, Ava first showed interest in guitar through “playing Rocksmith on Playstation with her father, and for her 5th birthday he bought her a real guitar (to use with the game)”.
(…) I definitely think I was born into it (rock and roll). If I wasn’t playing music I would be doing computer nerd stuff, like coding software and video games.
Ava Toton – Rock N’ Roll prodigy
As Lisa states, the 12 year old Ava’s primary instruments are her guitar and her voice, but she can also play bass guitar, drums and keyboard and uses all of those skills when writing songs and recording demos. By now, the prodigy’s releasing “Charm School Dropout”, which also is the title of her second ep, made through the pandemics. The tune – that reminds us of the great ones, like The Runaways, The Warning, Pretty Reckless and, why not, Guns n’ Roses – started off quite simple, as a song called “Best Aunt Ever” which was a song Ava and her brother wrote about their many aunts for National Aunt’s Day.
Her only goal? To inspire her generation to love rock and roll!
No drugs or alcohol, or any standard rocker stereotypes. Ava’s songs are inspired by real-life experiences. She writes all of the music for her albums and all of the guitar and vocal parts you hear on the album are performed by her. Both of Ava’s albums were recorded, mixed and mastered by producer Jacob Light of Modern Tone Studios in Lafayette, CA.Her mom, Lisa, writes most of the lyrics alongside Ava, who creates all vocal melodies. “I’m so thankful and appreciative of all of the support my parents have given me. They listen to my albums every day and are definitely my biggest fans”, says Ava.
2 4 Things about Ava Toton
RC – Your parents have a great deal of influence on your work, your mom even writes lyrics for you. How do you feel about having your parents as your major influences and fans at the same time?
AT – I’m so thankful and appreciative of all of the support my parents have given me. They listen to my albums every day and are definitely my biggest fans. I set a goal to release an EP on 2/22/22 and my mom worked really hard with me to make sure I met my goal because there was a period where we thought it wasn’t going to happen. Sometimes I get frustrated during the songwriting process and she sits with me and we work through the parts I am struggling with. Even though she can’t play any instruments, she listens to the parts I’m playing and helps me pick out the best version. I also have amazing music teachers, especially Rafael, who has been teaching me guitar since I was 7. I am heavily influenced by him. He’s a total shredder. When COVID lockdowns started, he was really supportive of me learning music theory and focusing on songwriting. He would have input at every step of the process and I don’t think I would have been able to release my EPs if he was not supporting me and teaching me for all of these years.
RC – Rock and Roll lost a lot of space for other musical genres in the last few years, so it’s unusual to find such a young person loving and playing rock and roll like you. What do your school mates, friends think about your “gift” and musical taste?
AT – My friends love it even though rock and roll might not be their favorite type of music. In 3rd grade, I recruited some of my closest friends to create a rock band for the school talent show (we performed Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song). It was so much fun. I remember in elementary school when my classmates and I were singing a song rehearsing for a recital and some of the girls asked me why I ‘sing like that’. My teacher said, “Because Ava is a rocker!” I recently competed in the talent show at my performing arts school (grades 6-12) and I performed Charm School Dropout. I wasn’t sure how people would react but by the middle of my song, the audience was singing the chorus along with me. That was amazing. People love rock and roll. They love guitar riffs. They love headbanging and throwing up the sign of the horns. I think that people my age just aren’t exposed to rock and roll as much as I have been and if they were they would listen to it all the time. This is why I’m writing rock music for all ages to enjoy. I hope to inspire my generation to love rock and roll as much as I do.
RC – We’re watching the success of young female artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Willow that brings back all that rock and roll energy. Do you identify yourself with them? What do you think about their music?
AT – I admire their success and dedication to their music. They write amazing songs which is why they are so popular. I’m definitely more into a heavier guitar driven sound with lots of drums. If they were to each do a rock album, I think it would be incredible, their vocals would be really cool in heavy rock songs. To be honest, I wish there were more young female hard rock influences out there. Not only singers but songwriters and musicians too. The Warning is releasing great music and I’m sure they are inspiring a lot of young females to love rock and roll. I think there are a lot of really talented female rockers in the industry right now, just not around my age. Nandi Bushell (drummer) is close to my age and she’s a rocker. Maybe one day we will collaborate on something together.
RC – You were born to rock and roll or rock and roll has chosen you? If it wasn’t for music, what would you be doing now?
AT – I was born in a hospital on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Blocks away from where a lot of hair metal music exploded in the 80s. I definitely think I was born into it. If I wasn’t playing music I would be doing computer nerd stuff, like coding software and video games. In a perfect world I would code a video game and write the soundtrack for it.
So, tell us now, did you like Ava Toton’s sound?