@skopemag Q&A Featuring AJ Raggs

What first drew you to the music industry and how did you get started?

I think it was a number of things, but I honestly never really wanted to do anything else. I believe God put music in my heart from a very young age. But I do know that the teachers He put in my life really helped foster a love of singing. I think that’s a big part of it – being blessed with good teachers who inspire you to pursue it!

How would you describe your sound?

I’m still developing it, haha! But I like to say it’s a cross between Adam Levine, Jason Mraz, and AJR.

Which artists have had the biggest influence on you?

Ed Sheeran is a big one. I think he’s one of the greatest pop songwriters of our days. But I also really have looked up to Tori Kelly for her vocal prowess and writing, and lately have really been digging what Bieber has put out!

Tell us about your newest single “We Were the Band!”.

We Were the Band! was so fun to work on! It’s got a big place in my heart. It’s about a love that feels like a constant party – wherever you go together, that energy follows you! I’m hoping this will be the closest to my concert someday. :-)

How does a song come together for you? What is your songwriting process?

It changes a lot! Most often, I’ll come into a co-write, having no idea what we are gonna write, but I’ll bring my “hook book” of titles and ideas, and we will go through until we find one that we all like! Sometimes one of my co-writers has the idea – (much like We Were the Band! Carrie Cunningham had the idea for this one!) My favorite way though, is when I’m writing a song by myself – I usually start with a journal entry, and then look at what I’ve written. I’ll circle interesting words or phrases, and then try to write a song based on those! This is a fun way because I never really know what the song will be about when I start.

Share some advice for other artists building a full brand for themselves.

Good question! One thing I’d say is to get a good day job – I don’t mean to drop music by any means – we need artists!! But it can get expensive! There has to be a good flow of cash coming in to keep paying for recording (unless you can do it yourself which is even better!!) promotion, and more!! Also – try to find a good publicist when releasing a song! Mine has helped me SO much (Irresistible Force Publicity), but again – it’s money! My biggest piece of advice, however, is to not let all the work of putting out new music take away from the fact that you love what you’re doing. If you do, the music’s quality will suffer, and you won’t be happy with the product. Gotta make time to enjoy the music! It’s supposed to be fun.

What does 2022 hold for you?

I’m hoping for a lot more music being released this year! I’m also super excited to be making the move to Nashville this May! Woohoo!!!

Share some advice for other artists trying to make a difference?

Love these questions. Well, you have to stay close to God. Also, never allow yourself to forget why you wanted to do music in the first place. My mentor has always told me I need to know the mission and the message of my music. Once you figure that out, all you need to do is execute it!