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!