Rising Singer/Songwriter Willow Avalon Talks About Her Excellent Debut EP, And Her Songs “Stranger,” “Drivin” And “Honey Ain’t No Sweeter”

Willow Avalon
Willow Avalon
(photo credit: Kristin Karch)

Willow Avalon is a young singer/songwriter who’s about to break through with her debut EP, Stranger (on Atlantic Records). She combines pop, indie, country and folk for a unique and fresh sound. Impressively, she’s an expressive, soulful lead singer, and she writes songs that are personal and heartfelt.

Over the past six months, Avalon has released three, notable singles—“Stranger,” “Drivin” and “Honey Ain’t No Sweeter”—that shows she’s a talented new artist to watch. “Strangers” is a very appealing uptempo song that feels good to listen to, and grows with each listening. It has a hooky melody and lush harmonies, and a thoughtful lyric about trying to overcome the distance she’s felt in her relationships with her parents.

“Honey Ain’t No Sweeter” has a rootsy, country flavor, and she wrote it in Texas after starting a new, whirlwind relationship. And “Drivin” is an uptempo song that flows well, and stylistically pays tribute to a Stevie Nicks’ classic song.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Willow Avalon, about how she wrote her song, “Stranger.”


Avalon’s debut EP, Stranger, will be released on February 29. In addition to these three songs, it will contain the new songs “Silver Spoons,” “The News” and “Call Me On My Way Home.”

Avalon, who is 25, grew up in a small town in Georgia, and she learned to play piano and guitar at a young age. Interestingly, she left home when she was just 15, and endured some rough years before she started making headway in her music career.

When she was 17, Avalon moved to Los Angeles, where she lived for several years. One of the songs she wrote in L.A. was “Drivin,” which she first released as an indie artist. The song went viral on TikTok, and caught the attention of record labels. She eventually signed with Atlantic Records, and she’s since released two new versions of “Drivin,” one that features a duet with male artist Field Medic, and another called “Drivin (Runnner remix)”.

Avalon now lives in New York City, in a Manhattan neighborhood called Hell’s Kitchen. She has been playing local shows with a 7-piece band, and she’s about to go on tour (with a 4-piece band), opening for singer/songwriter Briston Maroney.

Here’s the lyric video of Willow Avalon’s single, “Stranger.”

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Willow Avalon. She discusses her music journey so far, and tells how she wrote the songs on her new EP.

DK: I read that you grew up in Georgia. How did you get started with music, and writing songs?

Willow Avalon: I grew up in a tiny farm town in Georgia, and I took piano lessons and played in a Baptist church. As in a lot of cases, especially with Southern country music, the church was the start of it all.

I left the church as I got older, but my love for music stayed. I started playing piano really young, and I got my first guitar when I was 12. I didn’t actually want to learn real chords, so I started using open tuning and making weird chords. And I still do this to this day (laughs).

DK: Who were some of your favorite music artists who inspired you?

Avalon: I would say my top three would be Lucinda Williams, Stevie Nicks & Fleetwood Mac, and Dolly Parton. I grew up religiously listening to them.

DK: I read that you lived for a while in Los Angeles, and you now live in New York City. Can you talk about your journey, from Georgia to LA to New York?

Avalon: It’s been a crazy one. I moved to LA when I was 17. I had already moved out (from my parents) long before that. I was living in Atlanta, and I was living in my car, and sleeping in parking lots. Then I stayed in a house for 5-6 months, and then I moved very quickly and recklessly with a man that I met off the internet as meme friends on Instagram. He drove me all the way to California and he didn’t try to kill me, thank God (laughs).

After moving to LA, I lived in some of the scariest places that you could probably think of. I lived in an abandoned house with squatters. And I worked as a waitress at a restaurant, and there was a guy who had a crush on me. He worked in real estate development, and I was telling him about I was having to move, and it was hard to find places that were cheap and were pet friendly. This is because I had a 90-pound pitbull that I had adopted because he was about to be euthanized. So it was hard to rent an apartment with no credit and no money and with a pitbull.

Here’s a video of Willow Avalon performing her song, “Honey
Ain’t No Sweeter.”

This guy told me he had a house that was going to be demolished in two years, but that I could live there for super cheap if I did some renovations to it, because I’m pretty handy. I actually had to do a lot of work…all of the windows were busted up, and there were holes in the walls. So I had to learn how to drywall, to do plumbing, and put in glass.

So it was a crazy journey from the stix of Georgia to LA. Then I met my ex-fiance who was a musician, and we had a whirlwind romance and lived together for three years. Then we separated and left each other but we’re still good friends, and I moved to New York. And that’s how I got here now.

DK: I like your song, “Stranger”—tt feels really good to listen to it. Can you tell the story behind writing that song?

Avalon: Thank you, that’s very kind. That’s the goal I hope for when I write a song, that people will think it feels good to listen to. I wrote “Stranger” when I was trying to dive back into having relationships after my long-term relationship ended. It’s a story about the way that love was always depicted for me as a kid, growing up with two parents that couldn’t stand each other and they never had a relationship. And I was kind of the mistake, and they weren’t really cut out to be parents at the time and they were thrown into it. They did the best that they could, but there wasn’t a clear picture of love at all in my life growing up, especially not a healthy one.

So after leaving my relationship, I tried to make sure that I was a good partner for people that were gonna love me and I was gonna love. And making sure that I wasn’t the problem. So I did a lot of deep reflecting and self-growth, and I wrote that song about the reasons that I have people that I love at a distance, but I want to try to break down those walls and love wholeheartedly, and not think about the past.

DK: Two of your singles from last year are “Stranger” and “Drivin.” Did you first release these songs when you were an indie artist?

Avalon: When I put out the original version of “Drivin,” I was independent. And that’s when Atlantic Records became interested. Then after I signed with Atlantic, we put out the remixes that features a couple friends of mine. And “Stranger” was released after I signed with Atlantic.

Here’s the video of Willow Avalon’s single, “Drivin”
(feat. Field Medic).

DK: I also like your song, “Honey Ain’t No Sweeter.” What inspired you to write that song?

Avalon: “Honey’ is a really special song to me. I wrote it in Marfa, Texas on a dusty porch, sitting in an old rocking chair, in the middle of a wild love whirlwind I had just been thrown into—involving a country singer and his legendary country music/arts family.

I was in Marfa with him for his grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary shortly after we met. Steve Earle played a short but sweet set in an old town hall to start off the celebration, followed by performances from one legend after the next. There was such a creative energy there, and my heart felt so full; the song just came out. I think I wanted to explain to my new love that I wanted this—that I wanted love and that quite literally ‘the grass ain’t always greener, honey ain’t no sweeter, on the other side,’ and that what we had was a good thing worth the risk.

DK:  Besides the songs we’ve discussed, what are your other favorite songs on your EP?

Avalon: There’s a new country song we’re doing called “Gettin’ Rich Goin’ Broke.” Most of the songs I write are country songs; it just depends on the production, whether its indie, country or Americana, versus the traditional country that I grew up on. This song is pretty old country and I posted a little clip on TikTok, and it went viral. So now we’re releasing that one, which we’re very excited about.

I’m also excited about “Call Me On My Way Home”—that’s a sweet little love song in response to a partner I had that wrote a few songs about it, too. And I’d probably say “The News” is my next favorite.

DK: I want to ask you about your live shows. I read that you’ll be opening on tour for Briston Maroney. Can you talk about your live shows?

Avalon: The shows for this tour will be a little stripped down. The shows I’ve been playing in New York are usually 7 or 8 people in the band, which is kind of crazy. This tour will have a 4-piece band with me, with three of my best friends who are core members of my band. It’s gonna be a mixture of country, indie and a little bit electric. And I’m excited to tour with Briston. It starts in my hometown on the night that the EP comes out. So it’s a very cool little tour and I’m really excited about it.

Here’s the link to Willow Avalon’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/willowavalon/

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima