Interview: Avril Jensen The Musical Colorist

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Avril Jensen
Watch the full interview with Avril Jensen

The amount of new music my ears get to experience on a weekly basis is insane.  There is a lot of good music out there, but when something great comes my way, I dig deeper.

I would discover this Quebec artist with COLORS, but as I explored the other songs, it was clear this was not a one-hit-wonder.

Her play on words with the French lyrics in the bilingual Attends are irresistible, using waiting and hearing that sound almost exactly alike.

“J’imagine que tu m’entends / Ça fait longtemps qu’on s’attend, attend / attend”

Montreal Rocks spoke to Avril Jensen about her origin story, the impact of Billie Eilish, the colour of songs and what’s next on her music career path.

Origin Story

Avril grew up in a music family, with her dad, Tomas Jensen being the singer for Les Faux Monnayeurs & Hombre.  

“He’s the one that had music stuff around and allowed me to make music.”

Having access to her father’s equipment allowed Avril to experiment and learn the craft.

Billie Eilish

At the age of 12, Avril heard bellyache from Billie Eilish, and the glass ceiling of her age was shattered.

“When I found out she was 16, it made me realize that I could make music and it could be my career.”

Billie filled Avril’s tank with inspiration and purpose, knowing someone had cleared the path she would now follow.

Avril accepts the comparison as the Billie Eilish of Quebec.  “I’m glad to be compared to her.”

But her new album, out next year, will help “separate myself even more from her.  I like her stuff, of course, but I don’t want to be compared to someone for the rest of my life.” 

Van Gogh

One of the songs on her EP COLORS is titled van gogh, so let’s explore some of his quotes and see how they relate to Avril’s journey.

“Great things do not just happen by impulse, but as a succession of small things linked together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

The first small thing Avril did was write her first song at the age of 6.  

“OMG.  That song was actually about war and death.  I still don’t know why because it’s really dark for a 6-year-old.”

It was the melody that she remembers as being cool.  She sang it to her dad, and they recorded it only once.

“It was me, in the living room, singing from far away.  It was the beginning of the machine that is now my career.”

Following her first burst of inspiration, from the 4th to 6th grade, Avril had a band with her best friend.  They would write songs in French and perform for their classroom.  

Things started to get more serious when she was 15, and her focus was on building a career with this talent and passion.

“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh

We all have doubts at different times in our lives, but for an artist, the imposter syndrome can come in fast and furious as they become popular.

“When I listen to my songs now, I feel like it’s not me singing.”

Avril’s brain has a hard time reconciling that she wrote those songs.  Yet, Avril has the courage to write without overthinking it.

“It doesn’t matter if I accept it or not.  I made it and it’s cool.  If I question it too much, I’m going to go crazy.  I just enjoy myself.”  

The other aspect is that most of the songs were written when she was 15 and 16.  At that age, you are a different person from your 19-year-old self.

Because Avril is less of an autobiographical writer, and more of a storyteller, creating fictional stories, she doesn’t have to relate to that character…it’s just a story she wrote at that point in time.

The one thing that has changed was her writing style.  van gogh was the last one she wrote.

“I like it way more than the other ones, in terms of writing because I can see that I evolved in the way I wrote.”


The reality is that Avril is recording songs she wrote, almost as a different person, but exactly how she now feels they should sound now.

“It still sounds like how I feel at 19, even though I wrote it when I was 15.”

Basically, COLORS sounds like 19, but feels like 16.

“Art is to console those who are broken by life.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Avril once said on Instagram: “If my heart could beat, it would break my chest.”

Does writing music help Avril process emotions?

“Absolutely.  When I’m sad, happy, angry…I just write.  It’s my way of getting stuff out.  Whether it’s by writing something that happened to me or not, it’s a way of getting my brain on paper.  It’s a relief to be able to do that.”

The paper becomes her therapist, but this in turn is shared with the world.  

“The priority is to make it for myself, but the fact that people listen to it is crazy to me.”  

The secret is that because she writes for herself and can use the medium with integrity, it connects with others who maybe can’t describe their feelings as poetically as Avril can.  

“Color in a picture is like enthusiasm in life.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“The way I see it is that each track is a colour.  The complete project is a painting.  

Van Gogh is obviously blue.  In my head, COLORS is grey, ironically.  Too Much is like red/brown.  Away is white or really pale blue.  Paper Planes…I’m having trouble finding a colour.”

Taken together, this colour palette creates the work of art that is the EP.

“Normality is a paved road:  It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

The life Avril has chosen is not normal.  Being a musician “means everything.”

Her whole life, Avril has gravitated towards making music and art.

“I honestly don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have that in the first place.  It’s not a paved road.  I’m going into the wild and we will see what happens.”  

That path towards art feels normal, even if she has to bring a machete to clear the path ahead with some hard work…there is no turning back now.


Like Billie who played Corona Theatre one year, and Place Bell the next, I feel that Avril Jensen will also see venue jumps.

She played her album launch at the quaint Quai des Brumes, but her next gig will be at Sainte Thérèse d’Avila as part of the Santa Theresa Festival, opening for Martha Wainwright.  

Get tickets now!

Karaoke Question

If Avril had a life-or-death Karaoke battle, who would she bring on stage with her and what song would she sing?

“I’d say Celine Dion.  She’s kind of unbeatable.”  

The song would be All by Myself.

“I would let her do the high notes, and I would do the rest.  That would be epic.”  

The reason Avril chose Celine goes beyond the music.  Avril respects her, and the fact that she is from Quebec.  

Love her or hate her, we can’t deny she is an amazing singer.

“I have a thing for Celine.  I’m overwhelmed by her voice.”

Neck Tattoos

On Avril’s album cover, she sported a temporary neck tattoo for about a week.  Would she in real life?

“Every time I walked by a mirror and saw I had something on my neck. I felt:  Nah, this isn’t for me…but I still think they’re sick, but not for now…maybe in a couple of years.”

What’s Next

Avril will be doing shows this summer/fall and is looking forward to releasing her full album now that she is done writing it.  

Connect with Avril Jensen on her website.

Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their day jobs with out-of-the-box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives. He created the Rock Star Today Music Business Jam Session for musicians. Randal is a collector of signed vinyl, cassettes and CDs.

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