music mondays// justina x ajr

aaaaarrreee you readdyyyyyy

No, this is not the beginning of a WWE showdown.

 It is, however, the beginning of my interview with AJR brother and ukelele extrodinaire Ryan Met. I recently had the chance to talk with him about their upcoming album, street performing,
 and happy penguins.

You and your brothers have a really unique sound. 
Who are you listening to when you’re just chilling by your self?

Ryan: Oh man. Okay, it changes. Right now, I’m really into the Lorde album. When I first heard it, I was like “Hmm, these all sound sort of the same.” But the more you listen to it, you realize that her value is really in her lyrics, and her simplistic production. I think she really did something special with Pure Heroine. Let me think, what else...There’s a Clean Bandit song that I’m guessing, or hoping, rather, is going to be a big hit here. It’s called “Rather Be”. I really like that one.

You guys have an album coming out later this summer. 
You must be super excited, especially because you did it all yourself, right?

Yeah! The album is called “Living Room” because we wrote, produced, recorded, and mixed the entire thing, from start to finish....in our living room.

Wow, that’s impressive. I can barely work GarageBand.

Thank you, haha. It’s a really exciting album. I think what people like about “I’m Ready” is that it’s weird, and it captures your attention. There’s doo-wop, and dubstep, and Spongebob.....just weird influences. You’re going to hear a lot of that on the album. Because there was no one telling us what to do, we just thought “Let’s go crazy with this. Let’s take a lot of risks and push “pop music” to the next level.” And I think, or I hope, that really comes across.

One of my campers actually caught the Spongebob bit - I never watched it as a kid.

Really? Wait so what did you- did you watch Nickelodeon?

I didn’t, I was a Disney child. I feel like you have to be either one or the other.

Ohhhhh okay. Well that’s good too.

That’s really awesome that we appeal to 9 year olds. You know, we did this for about eight years from our living room before bringing it to the world, and so we had no idea who or what our demographic would be. We’re finding out that it’s really wide spread. We’re on this Lindsey Stirling tour right now, and she has this primarily college/edm crowd, but then she has high school fans that love it, and older fans too. She’s got 50 year old men coming, and then they’ll come up to us afterwards and tell us that they loved the music. And now I’m finding out we appeal to nine-year-olds!

That is really awesome. There aren’t a lot of bands or artists that can really appeal to people across the ages without dumping one somewhere.

I know, I recently went to a Macklemore concert and there were eight year olds and eighty year olds. It was so cool to see everyone just enjoying music together and having fun.

We need more fun music.

We do. I think there's definitely some of that in Living Room.

Do you have a special memory from making the album? 
Something that’s going to stick with you forever?

Hmmm. It probably has to do with the making of I’m Ready. Jack, my younger brother, came to me and was like “You know Ryan, someone like David Guetta or Skrillex or Avicii, one of these EDM guys, should sample fun stuff before the big drop.” At the time I was like “Oh yeah, that’d be cool.”. Then a few months later, I was working on what turned out to be “I’m Ready”, and I had the claps in, the doo-wop and dubstep stuff, and it just sort of came to us like “oh my gosh, THIS is the song that we need to put Spongebob in. It’s going to be hilarious.” While we were making it, I never really imagined that it would take off, because it’s had been seven-ish years of us with very little mainstream success. We were kind of our own little niche band playing to our isolated fan base in New York City.

Well off of that, what’s your earliest musical memory?

Well, we were raised on music of the 50’s and 60’s. So Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles. Our parents introduced us to stuff like that from a very young age. I remember listening to..it was probably like Simon and Garfunkels “Sound of Silence”, their big hit, and trying to match the harmony. The three of us, just sitting around trying to copy what they were doing - and that led to us eventually street performing. For like five or six summers in a row, we went out to Washington Square park, got the ukelele out, and tried to raise enough money  to get ProTools,
 and a microphone, stuff like that.

That’s a big part of New York culture specifically, isn’t it? Street performing?

Yeah, definitely. When we meet people who aren’t from New York they think we were like, homeless. For us, it just seemed like the first step. I mean, we’re not going to go on any tours. Let’s go make some fans. And yeah, there are homeless people performing on the street, but they were always the first to stop and listen.

Well it paid off- you’re on a pretty big tour! What are the best and worst parts?

 Best part: we get to meet and interact with all of our fans. We connect a lot on twitter, so it’s fantastic to get to match up faces. Worse part: There’s no days off. We say yes to everything. But it’s definitely a good balance.

Makes sense. You’re a big hit on twitter, and you recently started a tumblr. 
Which one is your favorite?

Definitely Twitter.  I like it better because I feel like it’s the closest connection we can get with fans, and it’s immediate.

I just followed you guys (@ajrbrothers). I’m excited.

Fantastic, we’re really good at twitter.

AJR went on tour with Hoodie Allen for a while - what’s your favorite Hoodie Allen song?

Favorite Hoodie Allen song...Small Town.

YES, that one’s good. 
Okay, last question: you guys get compared to the JoBro’s a lot.
 If you could join any other boy band, who would you choose?

Boy band..oh man, that’s hard..I guess like N’Sync from the 90’s or something?

No One Direction for you?

I don’t think I have the hair for it.

One direction hair or not, 
Ryan and his brothers are on track to be the indie darlings
 (can that be used for boys as well??) 
of 2015, 
and I am SO ready for Living Room

Make sure you're following them on twitter, insta, and tumblr 
so that you don't miss a single ukelele-tuned moment.

x Justina

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