Our AJ Mitchell cover feature was originally released in March 2020.
YouTube. Instagram. Twitter. Those apps are crucial for a young aspiring artist in the music industry today. Having the power of social media is important when branding yourself as an artist. It is a massive help with promoting music and getting your name out there. There are many outlets that allow artists to share their music with everyone. These outlets play a big part in the success of many up-and-coming artists.
Take 18-year-old Aaron Fredrick Mitchell Jr., known by everyone as AJ Mitchell; he came from a small town in Illinois and has been involved in music since he was young.
“I first started to fall in love with music and songwriting when I was 4 or 5 years old.” He proceeded to gain a huge following in 2017 when he started posting clips of himself singing on YouTube and Instagram.
At the young age of 13, he wrote his first independent single, “Used to Be” which was released in 2017 and that got well over 60 million streams. He signed his first major record deal in February 2018. Since then, he has had nothing but phenomenal success.
In 2018, Mitchell released his first EP titled Hopeful which included single “Girls” which charted at 39 on the US Mediabase Pop Radio chart. Following that release, he released his second EP Slow Dance. Title track “Slow Dance” featured past Beyond the Stage cover star, Ava Max and did amazing on the charts as well. It landed at number 28 on Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 chart. In 2019, he was also named one of Billboard’s and Vevo’s Artist to Watch.
Inspired by artists like Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake and Lil Wayne, Mitchell has no limits when it comes to the type of music he likes to create.
“I love to challenge myself and make all kinds of music, but I would say that my music is mostly a mix of pop and R&B.” To be a young artist in this industry, it is crucial to have some inspirations both inside and outside the industry. “I have so many inspirations but I would definitely say my Dad, Coldplay, and of course The Beatles for musical influences.”
Whether it be in a recording studio or his own apartment, songwriting is something Mitchell thoroughly enjoys and takes the process very seriously. He puts no time limit on how long a song should take.
“Some days a song can come together in an hour from start to finish and others I’ve gone back to for months.” Sometimes the best songs are the ones you start one day but finish months later. Songwriting is very complex and whether you write from personal experience or personal emotions or not there is still a formula for creating and writing the perfect song.
“A lot of the times when I’m writing alone, I like to write at the piano. When I’m in the studio with other writers, we usually start the day by just talking about what’s going on in our lives and connect on a personal level until we come up with a concept or idea based on what we’re going through at the time.”
Even though he isn’t always home, that doesn’t mean the writing stops. Sometimes the best tracks are created in a new environment away from the usual writing space. “I’ve been on the road a lot lately so I’ve been writing mostly on my phone or laptop. But when I’m back home you can usually find me in some sweats writing on my piano in my apartment.”
After writing song after song, Mitchell has the tough job of deciding which songs make the cut for an album or EP. Mitchell is set to release his debut full-length album, Skyview later this year. “The album is called Skyview, which is named after the drive-in movie theatre in my hometown. My parents and even grandparents went there so it has always had a close place in my heart. There wasn’t much to do in our small town so Skyview was an escape for me and helped me realize there was more out there.”
Naming an album, and deciding which songs are perfect for it can be tough. It takes a lot of time and effort when deciding which artwork to choose, the order of the songs and of course, which songs will be released as singles. Once you have all those items in order, then you can finally work towards a release date.
AJ Mitchell shared with BTS that he does have a favorite off the album and is able to tell us a little about it. “The intro to the album, called “Never with You” is a really personal song I wrote a long time ago and I’ve always wanted to release it, so I’d say it’s my favorite right now.”
When it came to the entire process of making the album, AJ Mitchell shared that some of the songs are going to be unlike any of his previously released music. “I had such a blast making this album. There are some songs on there that are very personal to me and others that I just had fun making. This album has been 2+ years in the making. I don’t really like to stick to just one genre so people are going to hear sides to me that they’ve maybe never heard before.”
After taking the time to construct all these songs, Mitchell has the luxury of performing them live while touring the country. In May 2019, Mitchell went on his own headlining tour, stopping in major cities like Detroit, Chicago and New York. In December of 2019, he performed at Jingle Ball for Wild 94.9 in Florida and then made his way to snowy Illinois to perform at the B96 Jingle Bash. AJ Mitchell performed for arenas full of people this past December. With that being said, his energy level on stage has to be high. There is a special type of chemistry with an artist and their fans at live shows, and it is something truly magical.
From the perspective of a fan, seeing their favorite artist sing all their favorite songs and from an artist’s perspective its hearing those songs being screamed back to them by all their fans. That’s what makes live shows so special. Everyone has a favorite part, Mitchell’s being the connection he makes with fans. “Feeling the energy and connection from my fans. There’s no better feeling than that.” Fans of Mitchell will be happy to know that you could be seeing him, soon. Mitchell shared with us that there could be a Skyview tour for 2020 in the works, which is super exciting!
In his 18 years, AJ Mitchell has accomplished things most musicians can only dream of. Playing sold-out arena shows, making his debut on Billboard’s Top 40 chart and working towards putting out his first debut album. Within the next five years, his success can only go up. We asked Mitchell where he hopes to see himself within these next five years and just like any young artist, he wants to continue to put out good music. “I’d like to release a few more albums, go on a world tour, and get recognized for not only my songwriting but also my production.” There is no doubt in our minds that he will accomplish all these things and more with his strong talent and ambition. We are so excited to be a part of this journey with AJ Mitchell.
Read the full March 2020 issue here.