At 17 years old, AJ Mitchell proves why he’s a pop sensation almost effortlessly. With over 1.4M followers on Instagram alone, the Bellville, Illinois native proves dreams really do come true, especially if you make it a priority to do so.
The “All My Friends” singer doesn’t just come with a voice, it’s his pen game, ability to play the keys, sense of fashion, style, and charm. Plus he’s an absolute sweetheart — one of those artists you couldn’t even hate on if you tried. Four years ago at age 14, AJ came to the city of Angels to pursue his one true love of music.
While he came up first gaining recognition from doing Youtube covers, it was his breakout single “Used To Be,” which currently clocks in at over 27M streams on Spotify, that stops listeners in their tracks. First living with his manager for a year and a half, his family eventually moved to the West Coast after inking his deal with Epic Records.
Trending All Day caught up with AJ Mitchell at their headquarters in Marina Del Rey, on a beautiful day where the sun was in our favor.
For someone who’s never heard, how would you describe your sound?
Definitely pop but an influence with R&B type melodies, verses, and the pre. In the chorus, pop for sure.
You’re originally from Illinois, how does that play into your life.
Definitely from a small town so had a lot of time being inside. [laughs] Not doing too much. I spent a lot of my time working on music before school, after school. Mainly ‘cause my dad was doing it, and also my sisters. We were always just a musical family, and kind of wanted to do it myself.
At what point did you realize this music career was forreal?
When I was 12 or 13, I started going to bars, started playing. I got a lot of positive feedback. Everyone was like “man your songs are great, you should actually do this.” I was like, “maybe I should actually do this.” [laughs]
Congrats on the “All My Friends” music video! Talk about filming that visual.
Thank you! I’m so excited. That was super fun. It’s funny. The whole thing behind that is it follows me everywhere I go, it’s just me and then a couple. It follows a narrative… all my friends are in relationships. I’m the only one who can’t be in one.
Do you want to be in one?
I would like to be in one. But for now, just waiting till someone comes around. I feel like with every relationship, that’s how it starts. Like “oh, I wasn’t looking for anyone,” and then bam! It just happens.
How is it adjusting to fame? You kind of blew up while you were out here.
I started to gain a following when I was 14. Got a random shoutout from this page that had a million followers. I got 15K followers in one day, it was the best day of my life. It was crazy.
Who was it from?
@tusmejoreschicos, it’s a page where they posted cute guys. [laughs] It was shirtless dudes or whatever, and then it was me on there! A singing video, which was actually really funny. In the beginning, all my fans spoke Spanish. I didn’t really know what they were saying so I’d try to Google translate. I was like “alright, all good things,” so I’m good.
I love how you play the keys in the beginning, can you talk about the instruments you play?
I was playing the piano ever since I was 4 years old. Nothing good, just messing around. I’m learning how to play the guitar right now. I wanna be well-rounded with my instruments. I want to learn how to play the drums, just so I can go on stage and bring it out. Something different.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
I want my fans to know that it’s not all of a sudden, this is something I wanted to do. This has been something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, ever since I was a kid writing songs in my basement. I just want the whole world to hear my music.
What is a normal day in the life, walk us through?
To be honest, it’s really different each day. Like today, I had a meeting at Warner, then came and did the interview with you guys. Some days, I’ll wake up, workout, go to the studio, and that could take all day till midnight or 2am. It really just depends.
What are 3 things you need in the studio?
One, I need a piano just because I need to start a vibe. Also, I need some cookies. The studio I go to, they always bake fresh cookies.
Paramount does that too, but I go to this studio called Windmark in Santa Monica. It’s pretty close by. Their [Paramount] cookies are better. (I shouldn’t of said that). Third, space. Space to pace ‘cause I need to walk around. Just jump around, I gotta get into my music.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point?
I know how to write a song on the piano and do all that, but I really want to learn how to produce. Just so I can get an idea down, throw some drums on it, add some other instruments and learn how to create a full song, instead of just on the piano. That’s one of my goals.
You are turning 18 on May 17th, what are you gonna do to celebrate?
Omg. I’m actually going to Hawaii for my birthday, which I just found out about a couple days ago. I’m super excited, we’re getting this cool house. Hopefully, I can make some music there too, for some inspiration. I get my license finally, I’ve been waiting on that since I was 16. [laughs]
Can’t you get it at 16?
I can get it when I was 16, so I was supposed to get my permit. When I lived in Illinois, I was taking a class — that was also the time when I was traveling back and forth to LA and Illinois. I officially just moved to LA and the school was like “yo you need to send your permit back.” ‘Cause I had my permit at the time, but you gotta give it back because California laws are different. I was two months away from getting my permit, I was so mad. I was like whatever, they got Lyft out here so I could just do that for a couple years. Now I just can’t wait to drive.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
I would say artists, because these two artists did a collaboration: Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign. MihTy, I love that album. I love it, it’s so good. “Intimate,” so good.
That album is slept on.
It really is, everyone needs to go check it out. Yeah I remember the next day, I was like “man I want to listen to that whole album again.” That normally doesn’t happen.
That’ll get you in your feelings for not having a boo!
Just sitting down, listen to it in the corner. [laughs] It’s so good, I’m about to jam it again when we get in the car. Seriously.
I’d love to collaborate with Jon Bellion, Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, her voice is incredible. The list goes on.
What is your best encounter with a fan?
There was this one fan I remember in Nashville, she didn’t have tickets to come and do the Meet & Greet, she was just waiting outside. I think my manager pulled me aside like “yo this girl doesn’t have a M&G.” I was like “yeah sure I’ll go and say hi.” I opened up the door and she was just waiting outside like “oh my gosh!” She started crying, it was the coolest thing.
What can we expect music wise?
In a couple months, I have an album dropping which I’m super excited about. It’s really cool ‘cause I have all these songs. It’s not like I’m only releasing one song at a time, I get to release a whole body of work that I spent almost a year on. I’m super excited for this, it’s 10 of my favorite songs all in one. It’s awesome. 10, but hopefully a bonus track or something.