Today, fast-rising 17-year-old pop artist AJA releases her brand-new single, “Love At First Song,” an expression of her love for music.
Written in collaboration with Jimmy McGorman (Avril Lavinge, Gwen Stefani, Goo Goo Dolls) and two-time Grammy award-winning songwriter Will Champlin, “Love At First Song” reveals the vast spectrum of AJA’s gift for songwriting and her opulent voice.
AJA shares, “When we wrote ‘Love At First Song,’ I wasn’t in the mood to write about feeling empowered or writing about being irritated with a boy or girl drama, I just wanted to write about something I loved and this was an easy topic for me. I love how certain songs can make you feel something. It can take you on a journey of emotions. It can make you cry, lift you up when you are sad, or make you feel like a badass even if you weren’t necessarily feeling that way before the music came on.“
With millions of streams, AJA’s previous hits include “Nerve,” “The Mess You Made,” “Better Off Without You,” and “Red Button.” She’s been featured in elite outlets such as The Line of Best Fit, SPIN, Billboard, LADYGUNN, American Songwriter, Complex, Wonderland, Dor,k and Flaunt, while iHeartRadio designated her a Future Star.
Celebmix caught up with AJA to discover more about the person behind the music, how she got started in music, and her musical/vocal influences.
What three things can’t you live without?
My parents would hate me saying this, but, my phone, Uber eats, and Netflix. These 3 things get me through tough times!
What inspired your new single, “Love At First Song?”
I wanted to write about my love of music. It’s the one thing I consistently love and impacts me emotionally. I love how a song can instantly trigger an emotion.
Walk us through your mindset as you approached recording the song.
I am constantly making notes on my phone. It’s like my way of journaling. I often walk into a session with an idea ready to go, or sometimes if I’m working with someone new, I feel the room and decide what I want to write about. Obviously, with someone older, which is often the case, I wouldn’t necessarily share certain experiences I would with someone closer to my age. But I’m usually pretty comfortable with anyone I’m working with.
What’s your songwriting process? Melody first, or lyrics?
I usually start with lyrics and that will determine the melody.
What do you hope your fans/listeners take away with them when they listen to your music?
The takeaway would be them feeling love! Love for something or someone. Just Love. I think in a world of hate and uncertainty, everyone needs to feel love
How did you get started in music? What’s the backstory there?
I’ve been singing my entire life. I was that embarrassing kid who sang at every talent show, school play, on vacation, if there was a stage, I was on it. I had been taking vocal lessons since I was very young (maybe 6) and my vocal coach at the time asked me if I wanted to do a cover of Sia’s ‘Chandelier.’ So, I covered it as I loved it and loved singing BIG songs like that, and we shot a video. I had an idea to dress like Maddie Ziegler in the original video and to lip-sync. Once it was edited, my vocal coach saw online that covers were being submitted to a contest run by Perez Hilton. We decided to enter the video and I won. I got a bunch of press, and this was my intro to the business. From there I got management and started getting opportunities and sessions. I was 10 at the time. I started releasing music by the time I was 13. First single under Aja9 was “Heart Won’t Beat,” ft. Gazzo. I went on to release more music and do a few tours. As I was maturing, I decided to remove the 9 from my name and release music that reflects more on who I am. I loved my old music, but my songwriting and experiences have evolved. That’s probably one of the issues with starting so young and sharing your experiences.
Where are you from?
I’m from Toronto, Canada.
Did your hometown impact your sound?
Probably not. Although my hometown has some of the biggest talent. I have loved working with some of Toronto’s best talent. It’s interesting because most Toronto artists seem to head elsewhere to work. Covid was interesting. It forced people to learn how to write songs and produce remotely. It was definitely convenient, but I love working in person. The vibe is always better, and it just runs smoother and quicker.
Which musicians/vocalists influenced you the most?
I have always admired big vocalists like Ariana Grande and Beyonce. I have been taking vocal lessons for most of my life and have always loved BIG songs. Any opportunity to perform my song choices would have been songs that challenged me as a vocalist. Whether it was range or being super creative with my arrangement and riffs.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
If I look to younger artists that have recently emerged, I would probably say Tate Mcrae. Her team has done a really good job at building something sustainable. She is consistently putting out great music, she’s getting great opportunities, and she has done an amazing job at showcasing authenticity. She doesn’t feel like she is trying too hard to be someone else. I could be wrong, but ultimately it feels that way. Another artist who I’ve loved to watch their journey would be Yungblud. He has done a phenomenal job at building a community based around inclusivity. I love his vibe and messaging. I’m also a huge fan of his recent release ‘The Funeral.’
What can your fans expect over the next six months? New material? Live gigs?
I have lots of new music coming. I have some great ideas I’m working on. Thinking of dropping an EP of my high school diary. It will be as soon as I’m done with my final year, which is in a few months. Will definitely cause some drama but I’m ok with that. All I can say is if I can get through an all-girls high school experience, I can get through anything. High school in the best of times can be cruel, but an all-girls school is next level. I survived.