Season 2; Ep. 9 AJ Smith ‘11 - ‘13 (Third North) with cohost Doraian Givens (Lafayette)
BORN AN HOUR DRIVE OUTSIDE OF DENVER, COLORADO…
in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, AJ Smith has taken a rather
unconventional path for an Indie/Pop singer-songwriter.
After all, not many can claim to have served as a Young Associate
Violinist to the National Symphony Orchestra while simultaneously
serving as an Engineer and Infrared Systems Developer for the U.S.
Naval Research Laboratory...in high school. But Smith's dual passions
for organic music and technology started early and with a reckless
abandon that led him to run away from home at the age of 3 for the
sole purpose of listening to piano lessons down the street. His
parents finally realized that these escapades would only stop once
Smith himself, still only 3-years-old at the time, was allowed to
learn how to play the piano. And shortly after that, despite having
limited music knowledge, Smith was stealing both of his parents' tape
players, figuring out how to effectively multitrack & record early
compositions (while haphazardly recording over some of his parents'
favorite cassette tapes in the process).
The trend continued and, never shy about seizing opportunities or
facing challenges, Smith’s diverse passions and healthy obsessions led
him on a genre-crossing journey. While learning piano and violin in
rigorous classical settings, Smith's musical palette continuously
sought new sounds, leading him to serve as the drummer/vocalist in his
middle school Punk/Screamo band, electric guitarist in a Rock duo, and
even the lead fiddler in the regionally touring Bluegrass/Gospel band
The Circuit Riders. Oh, and all of this was while he was programming
and selling games to his friends for their calculators.
Eventually, Smith would turn down scholarships to some of the top
engineering programs in the country in order to pursue the study of
music at New York University. With scholarships from the Songwriters
Hall of Fame and Carole Bayer Sager Foundation, Smith was able to
pursue a degree in songwriting and it was there where he found
life-changing mentors in the late Glenn Frey and hit songwriter Phil
Galdston, self-released his first EP “Dragons in the Sky”, had a #3
hit in Australia with “Summertime”, opened for The Eagles at the
Beacon Theatre, performed in the off-Broadway and West End hit Close
to You: Burt Bacharach Reimagined, learned some more instruments (he
plays 10 now), and graduated with one of America’s first Masters
Degrees in Songwriting.
Smith collaborated with GRAMMY-winner producer Scott Jacoby (John
Legend, Vampire Weekend) for his 2016 single & EP “Brooklyn Nights”,
which received airplay on Z100, Eagle 97.7 and DC101 (where DJ Mike
Jones compared the track to fun.’s “We Are Young”). He’s opened for
Lindsey Stirling and Emily Kinney, and performed at Milwaukee
Summerfest and Bethlehem MusikFest.
Now nearly 2,000 miles away from where his musical journey began,
Smith makes his home in a city with a different sort of breathtaking
view - New York. And all of his experiences are apparent in his unique
Pop sound: an orchestrated blend of acoustic and electronic
instruments, informed by Classical, Rock, Folk, Theatre and more. His
continued wiz-kid love of technology that once had him building
infrared sensors for the U.S. Navy now enables him to build out custom
rigs for his one-man live shows that are a spectacle of showmanship,
featuring Smith on a revolving multitude of instruments all at once.
Be sure to stay in touch to see Smith's next live show!