Despite more than ten years difference in age, fellow Canadians Chantal Kreviazuk and Avril Lavigne formed a relationship of mutual respect and sisterhood – and become songwriting partners – after they met last summer.
“We became really good friends, and no one knew we were writing together,” says Lavigne. “Every single night for two weeks, we would write a new song. And then I was like, ‘OK, I’m ready to record them.'”
The pair co-wrote six songs on Lavigne’s forthcoming album, Under My Skin (due May 25th): “Slipped Away,” “Forgotten,” “Together,” “How Does It Feel,” “He Wasn’t” and “Who Knows.”
“Sometimes, she was my muse,” says Kreviazuk, 31. “She was a nineteen-year-old, so I’d go into her space and then it would build from there. Sometimes, she would be the mature one and we would flip back and forth and change our roles with each other.”
Kreviazuk’s husband, Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace, had gotten to know Lavigne when his band opened for her in Europe in 2003. Kreviazuk, a singer-pianist with platinum sales in Canada, introduced herself to Lavigne at an after-party for the SARS benefit concerts that took place in Toronto last June. The next day, they went for lunch and Lavigne shared her thoughts on the direction of the album to follow 2002’s multi-million seller, Let Go.
“Avril wanted a very genuine thing to happen with her next record,” says Kreviazuk. “She wanted something special that was not going to be contrived, that wasn’t going to be the label or anybody pushing her in a direction or setting her up with people, even though she and I knew that she was going to have to humor those relationships once again. She really knew that there was something real inside her that was going to come out.”
The two wrote for almost three weeks at Our Lady Peace’s warehouse space in Toronto, before Kreviazuk invited Lavigne to move into the Malibu home she shares with Maida, where the couple has a recording studio. Kreviazuk suggested her husband produce the tracks.
“I didn’t know he produced,” Lavigne says, “but he did an amazing job. At midnight, Raine would say, ‘OK, I need you to come do background vocals now, Avril.’ And I’d be in my pajamas in the recording booth [laughs]. It was very fun and totally laid back.”
Maida produced five songs on Under My Skin, one of which, “Fall to Pieces,” he co-wrote. Two of the Lavigne/Kreviazuk compositions were recorded by Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Good Charlotte), who also produced a third song. Butch Walker also produced three tracks.
Kreviazuk describes “He Wasn’t” as “a super-fun, punk, screw-you-to-boys song.” “Forgotten” is a driving rock song inspired by similarly vibed music Lavigne was consumed with at the time. “She was kind of going through this goth, Marilyn Manson phase, totally finding herself in really dark, heavy music,” says Kreviazuk. “She couldn’t get enough of it. She wanted to make sure that side of her came through on the album.”
Lavigne admits that the new album is “darker, moodier, deeper, more mature” and says there are some piano-driven songs that show Kreviazuk’s influence. And despite Lavigne’s age, she impressed her older counterpart. “She has instincts like I had never seen before,” Kreviazuk says. “I learn from her because we think differently. I think with my head, and she thinks with her gut.”