Hello AJ, can you tell us all about yourself before you became a country musician? I was a college football player and student and then as soon as I graduated I moved to Nashville!
Who are some of your musical icons? Dierks Bentley – Just a well rounded example of how to be an artist. Great person, great music, and puts his family first. John Mayer – Not only do his lyrics make you feel something, it’s impressive how emotional his PLAYING is in terms of guitar. The 1975 – I’m all about adding weird things or parts to songs that don’t sound “normal”. Let’s keep it weird.
How would you describe your music in 3 to 5 words? “It’s 100% me.” This time around, I’m hands on through the whole process. It’s the first time I’ve played guitar on my own songs instead of having my guitar player do it (minus the electric parts). Everything from song structure, to the riffs, drum production, comes from my brain. I’m no longer leaning on someone else it build up the song for me. I’ve also stopped chasing what “modern country” is, lyrically. This year I’m putting out a new song every 3-4 weeks and a lot of the topics/lyrics are things that most mainstream artists would never dare say in a song they’re sending to radio (I cover many self-criticizing topics to say the least).
This applies more so to the new songs coming out this year and not so much what I’ve put out previously but “It is who I am”. The new music is literally a combination of pretty much all my influences of what I listen to. Less chasing some sound, more letting my ear dictate the sound.
What is the background story behind your brand new single “Do You Miss Me?” So I remember having the idea for the chorus around the time LAUV dropped his album. In true pop music, some songs have literally the most repetitive, quick, vibey choruses that don’t require much thought or lyric. They let the melody carry the chorus. Originally the lyric of “do you miss me” didn’t carry much weight with me, as I wrote it pre-breakup, however, once the breakup hit, the song really evolved into something more for me (so I tweaked the verses) and I knew we were gonna do a real version of it for the record.
What made you want a career in country music? Creating or playing music with my friends is whereI feel the most joy and I really believe that life is too short to not be doing something that is fulfilling for you, personally. Writing can sometime be therapy for me. Playing Iive is the closest I get to feeling that rush you had when you were a kid and went to the playground.
What are a few of your favorite venues to play at? My favorite that I’ve played so far is Tin Roof Cincinnati. Our hometown shows get WILD. I also loved a bar that recently closed due to the pandemic called NashVegas in Columbia, Missouri. That was one of the first college bars I played and we would play there once a semester and I made so many good memories playing there!
What is your recording process like when creating and making new music? To keep it short… I typically make a demo at home of a song I’m thinking about recording to see if I can dress it up to sound the way I want to. If it feels really good to me, I take my rough version of the song (I’d say probably 75% of the way done) and take it to my co-producer Dan. While I know a decent amount about production, Dan knows so many more tips and tricks that he can do to really make the song feel polished and shiny. While we do this to finish the song, it also is a great way for me to learn new things about producing!
What do you like to do in your free time when not working on your music? Free time is a funny concept as I usually have NONE. I workout, a lot. I don’t do it nearly enough for fun but I really, really like traveling.
Is there anything else you would like to share?There’s gonna be a new song dropping every month for the foreseeable future! (at least well into 2022)
What is one of your favorite quotes? “Big trees fall hard”. Literally first thing that came to my mind. No idea why.