INTERVIEW: AJ Mitchell

AJ Mitchell is a star on the rise. 2019 has been a big year for the Illinois singer-songwriter who has been catapulted into the spotlight with his breakthrough singles ‘Used To Be’ and ‘All My Friends’. With his rapidly growing worldwide fanbase, his new singles see him opening up deeper about his emotions through these coming of age stories. 

‘Slow Dance’ is a beat driven pop ballad that hears him teaming up with fellow rising star Ava Max who captivated the world with her smash hit ‘Sweet But Psycho’. Adding to his growing discography, he released the straight fire banger ‘Say it Again’ last week that hears him experimenting with a pulsating synth production in a playful manner. 

I recently chatted to AJ Mitchell about the creative decisions behind his new singles ‘Slow Dance’ and ‘Say It Again’, learning to wear his heart on his sleeve and the different sides of his artistry that he wants to show listeners. Check it out BELOW;

TB: ’Slow Dance’ is a romantic track that is all about taking that leap of faith and exploring that risk to see if that connection you have with someone is real. So being quite young and still experiencing so many firsts in your life, what was it about these lyrics that really resonated with you?

AM: For me these lyrics reminded me of eighth grade when you’re going to the Prom or the school dance and you are nervously asking a girl if she wants to have a slow dance with you. It just gives me those nostalgic feels. 

TB: How would you describe those nerves? 

AM: I think the lyrics perfectly explain the nerves I felt in that moment. “I just wanna know, will you slow dance” just describes that moment when I asked her and was waiting for her response. So many nerves!

TB: And did she say yes?

AM: *Laughs*, yes she did!

TB: Transitioning into young adult hood, how have you adapted to wearing your heart on your sleeve in such a vulnerable way through music?

AM: I feel like for a while I didn’t actually wear my heart on my sleeve and I wasn’t really vulnerable on social media until the past couple of weeks.

I just felt like that my fans deserve to know what’s going on in my life, not just what I’m doing every day and where I’m travelling to, but also how I feel. And I think that’s a really important thing to open up about. 

TB: Choosing to collaborate with Ava Max seemed like a bit of a left-field choice for you, so what was it about her artistry that really stood out?

AM: Something that really stood out to me about Ava Max was her voice. There are tonnes of amazing singers out there, but there was just something about her voice that made me go, ‘woah’. 

To me she has a range that is similar to Christina Aguilera! And that really excited me. 

When we sent her the song she sent it back within 6 hours, so we literally had it for the next day. When I was listening back to it I was absolutely blown away. Her voice sounded like Christina Aguilera! She was doing all of these runs and she was singing like crazy. It was a perfect fit. 

TB: And what is something that has surprised you about her since working with her?  

AM: She’s super sweet! But psycho *laughs*. No I’m kidding She’s super sweet and I’ve really enjoyed working with her. 

TB: Last week you released the absolute banger ‘Say It Again’. This track is another coming of age love track which dives deep into all the feelings, so what stood out to you lyrically about this song? 

AM: Yeah! Well with ‘Say It Again’ it was kinda the same thing that stood out to me with ‘Slow Dance’. It reminded me of when you were a kid and nervous to say hi to someone or slow dance with someone which then translates to the first time someone says ‘I Love You’ and it hits you so hard that you just want them to say it again *laughs*.

Something that really impressed me about this song was the really fresh pulsating synth production. So do you mind if we chat about the creative process behind this track?

AM: Yeah! Well the Futuristics produced that song and when they sent it through to me I was immediately in love with it. 

It’s such a feel good song! With the mix of that drop and that driving bass, it just feels so good! 

The song was pretty much already finished when they sent it to me, so I just went into the studio and recorded my vocals and my ad-libs and made the song mine!

TB: Reflecting back on the creative processes behind ‘Somebody’ and ‘Used To Be’ compared to where you are now as an artist with ‘Slow Dance’ and ‘Say It Again’, how would you say you have grown as an artist?

AM: I think I’ve become more honest with my words, and what I’m writing about. I guess now it’s really easy for me to really talk about what’s happening in my life and to put it down in words and actually create a whole story. 

When I was a kid I feel like it was just me trying to put words together and find rhymes, whereas now I’m really honest with what I’m saying. 

TB: With your debut album ‘Skyview’ slated for a early 2020 release, what are the different sides of AJ Mitchell that you want to highlight and the message/feelings you want people to walk away from it experiencing? 

AM: For this album I really want people to get to know me and discover who I am. With all of these songs on the record there are tracks I wrote and there are tracks I would like to listen to myself. 

I love hip-hop, I love rap, I love pop, I love RNB, and I honestly just love all music. Those are all styles I listen to and music I like to write. 

So with this album it’s really letting people get to know who I am and where I came from. 

TB: This is your first time in Australia, so from your brief time here so far, what is one of the biggest miss-conceptions you had about the country?

AM: That I was going to get killed by all the animals here *laughs*. I went to the zoo and they were all so sweet and cute! 

TB: You’ve been recently playing some big live shows and appearances. So going in with the objective to bring these songs to life on stage, what is this biggest thing you’ve learnt about playing shows?

AM: The biggest thing I’ve learnt about playing shows is that it’s really all about the interaction with the crowd. I think when I was beginning I didn’t really say much, I never really talked and I didn’t really say who I was. So the biggest thing I’ve learnt now is that it’s my show and when I’m performing I need to talk about who I am, talk about the songs and really tell the story. 

TB: And I have to say, the strings in your VMA performance of ‘Slow Dance’ were INSANE!

AM: Thank you! I love having live strings and live instruments in my performances as it’s really cool to see and really cool to hear too. 

TB: If you were still recording covers and uploading them to Instagram and YouTube now in the hopes of getting discovered. What is a song you would want to tackle that has been recently captivating you as a listener? 

AM: That’s a hard one! I really like ‘Easy’ by 5 Seconds Of Summer! That song is currently stuck with me, so it would probably be that one. I find that all their new releases are so interesting and cool!

TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind…

AM: Let’s do it! 

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

AM: Gross!

TB: When I think of Australia I think of…

AM: Kangaroos

TB: My pre-show pump up song is…

AM: Not A Barbie Girl by Ava Max

TB: The emoji that best describe ‘Slow Dance’ is…

AM: The dancing guy and girl emoji

TB: If I had a pet Kangaroo I would call it…

AM: Roo! Very original, I know! *laughs*

Slow Dance is out now! Listen HERE;