A talented pop/R&B singer/songwriter who is just 18, AJ Mitchell is building a large following. He’s released songs that have been streamed over a 100 million times, he’s had two chart singles on Billboard (“Girls” and “All My Friends”), plus many YouTube subscribers and Instagram followers. And last year (2018), he signed a label deal with Epic Records.
Notwithstanding his progress so far, Mitchell appears on the verge of reaching a higher level of success. He has just recorded an excellent duet song called “Slow Dance,” with pop star Ava Max (who recently had the worldwide hit, “Sweet but Psycho”). Impressively, “Slow Dance” was the Most Added single at pop radio last week, and Mitchell performed the song on the MTV Video Music Awards show on August 26.
“Slow Dance” is an appealing, pop/soul ballad that provides a fine showcase for the lead vocal performances of both Mitchell and Max. The duo have also filmed a video of “Slow Dance,” which will be released soon.
Originally from Belleville, Illinois, Mitchell learned to play piano and started singing at a young age. Also, it wasn’t long before he began to write songs and record demos. When he was 13, he wrote a song called “Used to Be,” that was released via YouTube and got wide exposure. This led to Mitchell getting interest from record labels and signing with Epic Records.
In July 2018, Mitchell released his debut EP, Hopeful, that included his uptempo single, “Girls.” “Girls” reached #39 on the Billboard Pop Songs chart, and earlier this year, his single “All My Friends” reached #24.
Along with his new single “Slow Dance,” Mitchell has released his second EP, Slow Dance. This EP contains three more songs: “Out My Mind,” “Move On” and “Talk So Much.” In addition, Mitchell is completing his debut album, that will be released in the coming months.
Mitchell, who is now based in Los Angeles, works closely with his manager, Mike Spitz, and his A&R exec, Joey Arbagey (EVP of A&R at Epic Records).
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with AJ Mitchell. He talks about his duet “Slow Dance” with Ava Max, his songwriting, and how he got started in the music business.
Here’s the video of AJ Mitchell & Ava Max’s single, “Slow Dance.”
DK: I like your new single, “Slow Dance,” with Ava Max. How did you get together with Ava to record this song?
AJ Mitchell: It’s a song that was played for me, by my A&R at Epic Records. When I first heard it, it was something that I really connected to…it was almost as if it was a song that I would write. It just felt right as a duet, and the first artist we thought of was Ava Max. So went sent it to her team, and she cut it and sent it over to us the next day. And when we heard her vocals on it, we were blown away. I was like…Oh my God. She just blew us away on this record, and her voice fit perfectly with mine.
DK: Have you and Ava filmed a video for this song?
Mitchell: Yes, we filmed it in New York. The only time we were able to get together was in New York, so we shot a music video there a few days ago. I’m excited about this new video—it’s being edited and it’ll be posted soon. Also, we just pushed “Slow Dance” to radio yesterday, and it was the number one most added song (on radio) in the country. That was great news.
DK: I read that you’re from Illinois. How did you get started as a musician, and write songs?
Mitchell: Early on, I would watch my dad…he would be writing songs. And seeing that, I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna try that out” (laughs). So I hopped on the piano when I was four, and started messin’ around and singing. Then when I was six, I got into writing my own music. The first day I wrote a song, it was so much fun…I couldn’t get away from it. Every day I would be at the piano, writing music or singing…I couldn’t get enough of it.
DK: In 2017, you released independently your single, “Used to Be,” which became popular online. Can you talk about this song?
Mitchell: “Used to Be” is a song that I wrote when I was 13—that was one of the first big songs that I put out. I recorded it when I was 14 and put it out, but a year later I re-recorded it and made a more professional video.
Here’s the video of AJ Mitchell’s single, “All My Friends.”
DK: Was it around that time that record labels started finding out about you?
Mitchell: Yeah, that’s when everyone started to pay attention and seeing who I was. Honestly, I had no idea that “Used to Be” would take off the way it did.
DK: You’ve released your new EP, Slow Dance, that contains three other songs that you co-wrote. Can you tell me about these songs?
Mitchell: The three songs are “Talk So Much,” “Move On” and “Out My Mind.” These are songs that I co-wrote, and they’re my favorite songs that I’ve released this year, and we put them on this EP. Also, this is Part One of a much bigger project, which is my album.
DK: When will your album be coming out?
Mitchell: The album is pretty much done; we just have to mix and master everything and get it perfect. The title of the album is Skyview, and hopefully we’ll release it towards the end of October.
DK: For your EP, you wrote several songs with writer/producer, Romans (aka Sam Roman). How do you and Romans like to write together?
Mitchell: Romans actually wrote about half of my album with me. He’s one of my favorite writers and my best friend. We write together and he produces the songs.
Normally, I would come to the studio with ideas, and say what I wanted to write about. I would say, “Here’s a situation that’s happened in my life, and I want to write about this.” With “Out My Mind,” I wrote it with Romans and Steph Jones. It’s a song about a situation that happened, where I was in a relationship with someone that I was keeping a secret, because I knew if the person found out, they wouldn’t be happy about it (laughs). It was about my sister’s best friend. So that’s what “Out My Mind” is about.
DK: You’ve already had two singles that have made the Billboard charts: “Girls” and “All My Friends.” Can you talk about these two songs?
Mitchell: “Girls” is another song that I wrote with Romans—it was our first session together. That song was a perfect fit to be the first single that we took to radio. It was a fun song, and I was a little bit younger then. Then with “All My Friends,” I didn’t write that song, but I really connected with it…it was something that was going on in my life. The song goes, “All my friends are falling in love”—they’re all in relationships, and I was the one who wasn’t. So it fit perfectly.