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Amanda Ava Koci (born Amanda Koci; February 16, 1994),[1] known professionally as Ava Max, is an American singer and songwriter. The single "Sweet but Psycho" became her breakthrough song when it topped the charts in over 26 countries including the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and New Zealand, while also reaching the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in Australia.[5][6] The follow-up singles "So Am I" and "Torn" were released in 2019. Ava Max is also known for her signature hair style, dubbed the "Max Cut".[1]

Ava Max
Ava Max meeting fans (cropped).jpg
Max meeting fans in Australia after her appearance on Sunrise in April 2019
Background information
Birth nameAmanda Koci[1]
Also known asAva
Born (1994-02-16) February 16, 1994 (age 25)[2]
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.[3]
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • piano
Years active2013–present
Associated actsCirkut

Early lifeEdit

Amanda Ava Koci was born Amanda Koci on February 16, 1994 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Albanian parents from Tirana and Sarandë.[1][7][8] She has described herself as "100% Albanian" and stated that she "definitely wants to give back to the Albanian community when [she] can."[9] At age 8, she moved with her family to Virginia.[1] She competed in numerous singing competitions before she entered high school.[10] When she was 13, she came up with the middle name "Ava", which she adopted as her first name, claiming that “I never felt like an Amanda.”[1] At age 14, she moved with her mother to Los Angeles, in pursuit of a career in music. She found the city to be "overwhelming". A year later, she returned to Virginia. She stated that she was grateful for the return because it allowed for “a normal childhood”.[1] At age 17, she moved back to Los Angeles.[11]


2013–2017: Career beginningsEdit

It was funny, ’cause I was actually experimenting with different haircuts and colors, pink hair, blue hair, all that kind of stuff. Nothing felt like me. One day I cut my hair, my actual hair, cut it on the right side, and I remember I had something in the oven; I think they were chocolate-chip cookies. And I run downstairs without cutting the other side. I run downstairs, and then I’m like, ‘Oh my God, [the cookies] almost burnt.’ As I’m going [back] upstairs, I see in the mirror my reflection and the haircut, and...I literally tilted my head, like, why does this feel like me? It felt like me, like I had found myself.

— Ava Max on her signature "Max Cut"[1]

Under the stage name Ava, her debut song "Take Away the Pain" was published in May 2013,[12][13] and in July 2015, the Canadian DJ and producer duo Project 46 released a remixed version of the song.[14] After years of having demos rejected from record producers and songwriters, she met record producer Cirkut at a dinner party in 2014 in LA where she sang "Happy Birthday" to him.[11][15] According to Max, they "opened up a lot of doors" together,[11] and in July 2016, she released the song "Anyone but You", one of many songs she worked on with Cirkut, on SoundCloud.[16] The song gained traction and attracted the attention of various record labels that contacted her through email, ultimately leading her to sign a record deal with Atlantic Records.[1][11]

After signing the deal, she began searching for a last name to use as her stage name. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Max described how she formulated her stage name:

Max came about because it felt very masculine, and I feel a little masculine sometimes, like 50/50, like my hair. I wanted something with the feminine that Ava has, and Max has masculinity, so I added those two together.[1]

During 2017, Max adopted her signature hair style, dubbed the "Max Cut", which can be seen in her logo.[1] It consists of the right side of her hair chopped as a bob cut, with the left side long and loose.

2018–present: BreakthroughEdit

Ava Max performing at the Gothenburg Rix FM Festival in 2019

In April 2018, "My Way" was released,[17] which reached a peak of 38 on the Romanian Airplay 100 chart.[18] In May 2018, "Slippin", a collaboration with Gashi, was released as a single.[19][20][21] In June 2018, she featured on "Into Your Arms" by American rapper Witt Lowry. A month later, "Salt" appeared on SoundCloud. In August 2018, she released "Not Your Barbie Girl" as a promotional single.

Max's third single "Sweet but Psycho" was released on August 17, 2018. The song, produced by Cirkut, became Max's commercial breakthrough, reaching number one in more than 26 countries including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, where it stayed at number one for four consecutive weeks.[22][23] In January 2019, the song reached the top of the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart and later reached top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.[6] Max was also featured on David Guetta's album 7, on the track "Let It Be Me".[24] In March 2019, she released the follow-up single "So Am I", which reached the top 10 and 20 in several countries. The songs "Blood, Sweat & Tears" and "Freaking Me Out" were simultaneously released in July 2019 as promotional singles.[25][26]

In August 2019, Max was featured on the song "Slow Dance" by American singer-songwriter AJ Mitchell,[27] and released "Torn" as a single later that month. On September 4, 2019, she entered a joint co-publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music and Artist Publishing Group, stating “I’m someone who speaks my mind, so it was important to me that my publisher value originality and creative expression.”[28] On October 31, she released a music video for the promotional single "Freaking Me Out" as a Halloween special.[29][30] Max won best Best Push Act at the 2019 MTV Europe Music Awards.[31] On November 6, 2019 a duet called "Tabú" between Max and Pablo Alborán was released.[32] Max will release her debut studio album in 2020.[33]

Musical style and influencesEdit

Max has been labeled as a pop[34] and dance-pop[2] singer. She grew up listening to artists such as Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Fugees,[35] Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston.[36] She has also cited Beyoncé,[35] Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Fergie, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Lady Gaga as some of her influences.[37] Max has been compared to Gaga for her music and "ostentatious presentation".[38][39]

Personal lifeEdit

In a 2019 interview with Attitude, Max revealed that she had been attracted to women in the past, but has chosen not to label her sexuality, stating "Personally, I like it when it's about who you are as a person. I don't like people putting me, or anyone else I know in a box."[40]



As lead artistEdit

Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
"My Way" 2018 Non-album singles
(featuring Gashi)
"Sweet but Psycho" 10 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 TBA
"So Am I" 2019 14 16 8 21 13 2 23 16 13
"Torn" [A] 59
[B] 87
(with Pablo Alborán)[62]
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

As featured artistEdit

Title Year Peak chart positions Album

"Take Away the Pain"
(Project 46 featuring AVA)
2015 Non-album singles
"Clap Your Hands"[64]
(Le Youth featuring Ava Max)
"Into Your Arms"[65]
(Witt Lowry featuring Ava Max)
"Make Up"[66]
(Vice and Jason Derulo featuring Ava Max)
"Slow Dance"[27]
(AJ Mitchell featuring Ava Max)
2019 36 Slow Dance
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Promotional singlesEdit

Title Year Peak chart positions Album

"Jet Set"
(as AVA)
2016 Non-album promotional singles
"Anyone but You"
(as AVA)[16]
"Salt" 2018 TBA
"Not Your Barbie Girl"[68] Non-album promotional singles
"Blood, Sweat & Tears"[25] 2019
"Freaking Me Out"[26] 29
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Guest appearancesEdit

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
Title Year artist(s) Album
"Clap Your Hands" 2017 Le Youth TBA
"Let It Be Me" 2018 David Guetta 7


Year Song Other artist(s) Director
2018 “My Way” Jake Wilson
“Sweet but Psycho” Shomi Patwary
2019 “So Am I” Isaac Rentz
“Torn” Joseph Kahn
“Slow Dance” AJ Mitchell
"Freaking Me Out" Edgar Daniel
"Tabú" Pablo Alborán

Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Year of ceremony Nominee/work Category Result Ref(s)
Bravo Otto 2019 Herself Newcomer Pending [69]
BreakTudo Awards International New Artist Nominated [70]
Global Awards Rising Star Nominated [71]
Sweden Gaffa Awards Best Foreign New Act Nominated [72]
"Sweet but Psycho" Best Foreign Song Nominated
LOS40 Music Awards Best International Song Won [73]
Herself Best International New Artist Nominated
MTV Europe Music Awards Best New Nominated [74]
Best Push Won
MTV Video Music Awards Best New Artist Nominated [75]
NRJ Music Awards International Breakthrough of the Year Nominated [76]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Summer Female Artist Nominated [77]
"Sweet but Psycho" Choice Song: Pop Nominated


  1. ^ "Torn" did not enter the ARIA Singles Chart, but peaked at number 34 on the ARIA Digital Track Chart.[59]
  2. ^ "Torn" did not enter the NZ Top 40 Singles Chart, but peaked at number 27 on the NZ Hot Singles Chart.[61]


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  69. ^ "BRAVO-Otto-Wahl 2019: Vote für deinen Star!". Bravo Germany. October 23, 2019. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
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  77. ^ Kaufman, Gil (2019-06-19). "Lil Nas X & Post Malone Lead 2019 Teen Choice Awards Nominations: See the List". Billboard.

External linksEdit