For many Long Bay College students, lockdown has provided a time to focus and develop new skills and talents. Singer/songwriter Avalon Martin has been busy refining and recording her own song, “Panicked Peace.” This is a fantastic milestone for the Year 12 student who created the song when she was only in Year 9.
“This has always been one of my favourite original songs. I feel as though it encapsulates my style of music. I’ve been wanting to record this song ever since I wrote it. I usually perform it with just my voice and my guitar but over lockdown I have had an excuse to dedicate some time to it and I added my own harmonies. I’ve really enjoyed the virtual collaboration with my producers across our bubbles.”
Now, with a recording behind her, Avalon is entering her song in the Youthtown ‘Play It Strange’ song writing competition. ‘Panicked Peace’ will be judged alongside other Auckland secondary school students’ work, with 20 finalists chosen for the competition’s 2020 album. She hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Long Bay College student and Deputy Head Girl, Rebekah Walton who enjoyed success in Play It Strange, winning a major prize and the chance to record two of her songs.
Avalon remembers the exact date she was inspired to write her song. It was Guy Fawkes, November 5, 2017.
“I remember being with a group of friends to watch fireworks when one of my friends experienced a form of dissociation and it took them a while to snap back. My goal was to write the song from a perspective of this person guiding themselves out of this surreal state and back to a place of comfort.”
Music has always been part of Avalon’s life.
“My dad is the Karaoke King and my mum used to do musical theatre and was in a popular Auckland rock covers band in the ’90s to early 2000s. I had my first experience on stage with a band while in utero because my mum was eight months pregnant when performing.” Avalon’s mum, Tracie Lee says the family has always believed that’s the reason why “Avalon came out rocking”.
Avalon has been singing since she was eight and has had the support of vocal teachers along the way. She performed at Santa Parades and busked in Browns Bay. But she says it has been acting opportunities that have really pushed her to perform.
“I’ve just always loved challenging myself and what better way to do that than sharing your passions in front of an audience.”
Former Long Bay College Prefect (2018) and singing sensation, Tayla Alexander has also inspired and mentored Avalon.
“She has been one of my role models since I was about eight when I saw a segment about her on TV. She was a young singer and I admired her voice and confidence. During 2018, I worked alongside her when she played Maria [in the school production of ‘The Sound Of Music’], where I began practicing so many more techniques and became more comfortable with my voice and it’s qualities.”
For now, Avalon is content to continue with busking and small gigs while she also continues to enjoy songwriting. She says there are many approaches that can be taken when it comes to writing lyrics but she compares it to writing “poetry with a melody”. She shares some wonderful insights for budding song writers:
- Find a private space where you’re comfortable reading out loud. I find that in order to know if the lyrics sound cohesive I can’t just read them in my head.
- A song doesn’t have to rhyme. Find interesting words that develop the narrative or general vibe of your song: e.g. In Panicked Peace, ‘state’ and ‘break’ don’t rhyme.
- You don’t have to know what you’re writing about. If you want to write but have no inspiration of narrative, try a word vomit on a page and then structure your song from the random lyrics.
- Write for yourself.
- You don’t have to play an instrument well. If you’re writing for a band you can just write your lyrics and play around with the melody before your band works on the instrument/s.
- You don’t have to sing well! You can write the most beautiful instrumental composition and have a general idea of where you want the melody to go and then hand it over to someone who is great with words to write your lyrics.
The College wishes Avalon every success for the Play It Strange competition.
Listen to ‘Panicked Peace’ here: