The Gossip Girl reboot finally arrives today! Singer-Songwriter Shaelyn Avalon pays tribute to the American drama series with a special upbeat Pop song titled “XOXO.” Conceptually, this catchy release is inspired by the character Serena Van Der Woodsen. Are you eager to know more about it? Read this interview to find out the answers.
1 — First of all, can you give us an idea about your new single “XOXO”?
It’s my favorite song I’ve written sonically, it has a lot of elements to it that songs I like listening to are made up of. It’s got this suspended horn sound at the beginning that really draws you in and then changes up into something you’d never expect! I wanted to make it feel like you were in the world of all these characters. Everything in the world of Serena and Blair is glamorous so the beginning to me sounds a lot like what I would hear on the runway right before stepping out from backstage.
2 — What was the process behind recording it?
I knew I was ready to record again when I came back to LA after traveling quite a bit. I came, I saw, I did! It was time. Working with Christopher (Reagan) on this was really easy, he understood my schedule and was committed to making this song the best representation of me now infused with my taste in music.
It’s very confident and unapologetic, which I think I already was doing back in Wonderland era. It’s more upbeat than my last two songs I put out, which I thought would be a great contrast and show the more fun and spontaneous side of my personality.
4 – Is there something you’re excited about the Gossip Girl’s reboot?
I’m always excited to hear whatever songs they use in their episodes. The New York setting overall really captures everything my fantasy world would entail. I think the thing I’m most stoked about though is that everyone is as obsessed with the franchise as I’ve been for the past 6 years since I started watching the show. We’ll see what these new characters bring to the table but I’m pretty sure I know who my favorite character is gonna be already!
Serena and I have a lot in common. We both grew up with similar family dynamics and watching her struggle with her identity and relationships was like a comforting thing. She and I have both had our fair share of dramatic life events: falling for guys really hard, growing up without a father, being thrust into the spotlight, or having certain things come “easy” while other everyday things can tend to be hard to deal with. I fell into the modeling world at 19 years old before I really made any friends in the LA area. Everyone I hung out with, guys especially, kind of saw me as this airhead blonde who just took pictures and was really fixated on her image. I’m hoping with this song I can wipe away any premeditated conceptions about me people may have based on my Instagram or Tik Tok.
6 – Are the lyrics of “XOXO” based on your personal experiences like most of your songs?
XOXO is very special to me. In verse two I wrote a line about a car crash. That really happened this January and it left me lost and very emotionally distressed. I was injured and had to rely on people in a way I’m really not used to. I’m the kind of person who will take myself out of the equation, sometimes too soon, and here I was all of a sudden needing someone to take care of me, yearning for this great love. I guess that’s where the whole endgame trope comes in for me. I have this internalized belief that there are certain loves that you know are it and those are the ones you cling to for dear life. Love is really the only thing that lasts, beauty fades, the fair-weather friends will come and go, you want someone who’s there even when your life isn’t this perfect fantasy.
The words in that verse came to me faster than any song I’ve ever written and it just “fit” because there’s a character arc where Serena gets into this car crash with Nate’s cousin (Tripp Van Der Belt). He just leaves her with all this aftermath to deal with. She didn’t ask for it, and then everyone close to her comes and helps her overcome this unforeseen accident. There are other lyrics that definitely are me, the runway shows, the parties… those were my life before the accident and before everything shut down. I really wanted to capture that moment in time and freeze it like a polaroid, write about it so I can always remember what a blessed life God gave me and not take it for granted.
7 – Can you reveal details about the upcoming music video?
We have a lyric video that’s coming out in full very soon! Right after release we’ve got something ready to go. I had a lot of fun working with one of my best friends on it. She gets me and where I’m coming from and we used to work on projects all the time together when we were in high school. Every lyric is surrounded by these floating polaroids, which were inspired by all the posters I have on my walls. It’s sort of like this collage of inspiration that I like to look at to remind me to keep going so I can be on one of those covers and feel like I’ve made it.
8 – How do you follow along with new Pop music trends?
I have my favorite artists that I keep up with daily, Madison Beer, Taylor Swift, they feel like home to me. Whenever a new song comes out I’ll listen to it all day for weeks. I play like two to three songs in a playlist over and over some days because they make me feel motivated and happy. New music for me comes pretty regularly too, sometimes I’ll hear a song on Tik Tok and look up the artist and find a couple of hidden gems, sometimes it’s my homepage on Youtube.
9 – What do you listen to on the everyday?
I really like Olivia Rodrigo’s album Sour! It’s amazing! Literally, every track is so different and that’s what makes it really fun to listen to. Life Support by Madison (Beer) is like my emotional medicine. I also really like Nessa Barrett’s stuff. I’m kind of a sad person so the darker themes they write about are very real and relatable to me, very mature and sexy at the same time, like embracing the sadness and turning it into a “you know what, I may be sad at times or feel lonely but I can write some killer songs!” That, to me, is why I keep doing this. It’s like a release of serotonin finally getting to sing about these things.
Again, Taylor Swift (a lot of Red and Reputation era), Selena Gomez when she was in her “A Year Without Rain” period, I have a playlist I made on Spotify called Vibes, one called Inspo for songs that really make me wanna write, I have everything categorized by playlist.
10 — Do you feel that you have accomplished everything as an artist?
Absolutely not! I’m still just beginning.