Genre-bending singer/songwriter PJ is 2016’s freshest and most promising up-and-coming artist. The North Carolina raised, Atlanta bred, and current Los Angeleno cut her teeth in the music industry after she signed to Atlantic Records in 2014 and began penning songs for major names in the R&B and Hip-Hop worlds, including Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign, Wiz Khlalifa, B.o.B., Meek Mill, R. Kelly, and more. In 2015, PJ released her debut EP, Walking Around Pools, which hit #13 on iTunes R&B chart, and helped her land television performances on Late Night with Seth Meyers and Revolt TV.
Though PJ gained critical acclaim for her work behind the scenes as a songwriter, she’s ready to take her place in the spotlight. The soulful crooner is opening eyes, and ears, with her multi-faceted talents and unique blend of pop, hip-hop, R&B, and folk sounds, snatching up fans and critics alike with the fun, positive spirit she exudes in her music, and in life. PJ encourages others to not let anything stop them from achieving their dreams, and through her music that sentiment is palpable.
“What I’m trying to present to the people is that you can do it—whatever it is. Whatever you wish to do, you just gotta take the first step! My music is here to let you know that you are unique and that you are rare. Instead of allowing society to dictate who and what you are by yelling at you to step back in line, you should leap from that line and embrace all the things that make you, you,” PJ says of her uplifting lyrics.
PJ’s hit single, “Gangster,” from her upcoming EP Rare, is an anthem for anyone who’s ever felt like the nice guy who finishes last, and wishes they had the guts to speak their mind all the time. PJ earned cosigns from industry heavyweights Diddy and Common with “Gangster,” and they won’t be the last. Media outlets are jumping on board, too, with NPR, Vibe, and OkayPlayer singing her praises on the new releases and the upcoming Rare, slated for release this summer. Rare will be PJ’s breakout album, and she’s excited to bring the world her incomparable sound and change the game with her inspiring message.
Learn more about PJ in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! How’s 2016 treating you so far? How’s your summer been going? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
2016 has been good, I actually feel like the year is just starting for me. The summer’s been a little chill, but I’ve just been prepping for going on tour with K Michelle, and getting ready to release RARE. 2015 was kind of a big year, because Walking Around Pools came out last year. So 2015 was basically like my introduction.
Yes, I asked my grandmother for a guitar in the second grade. So I think it was always there, I remember how excited I was when I got it. And I did the whole orchestra thing in middle and high school. I always wanted to sing, I was just super shy about singing in front of people.
In the past, you’ve written songs for a ton of well-known artists. Was it ever difficult to give a song to someone else and not use it for yourself?
When I’m writing for myself, it feels like a different approach. The only song I wanted to keep, was “anything goes” that me and Ty wrote. But it ended up going to R. Kelly so it was all good.
How do you think you’ve grown as a musician through the years?
I think more importantly I’m growing confident wise. I definitely less awkward on stage. I’m trying to step outside of my comfort zone a little bit, and be more open to suggestions. (Laughter)
What was the recording process like for your forthcoming record “Rare”?
The recording process was easy, it was really just the ideas of it. Like it wasn’t until I wrote the title track, “RARE”, that it kind of all came together. And when we were recording the introduction, that was fun, because I got to experiment with foley, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.
Where do you get the inspiration for your music? How do you go about writing a song? Specifically, can you talk about your single, “Gangster”?
I get my inspiration, from my every day life. So the everyday struggle, of trying to get my life together is huge inspiration for me. Especially like Gangster, that comes from, me feeling like I always take the high road, and that people are always trying my patience. When it comes to writing a song, most of it’s like a freestyle. It’s kinda like rapping, I close my eyes, and just say whatever comes to mind. I feel like during the recording process for RARE there were little hiccups that I kept going through, that definitely help fuel the songs.
Kanye West, Kid Cudi, John Mayer, Missy Elliot, Drake, Lauryn Hill, they’re all super dope. I would love to work with them.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message for your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
I actually feel like you should categorize my music under the message. It’s not a genre thing, with me. I’m making a soundtrack for the underdogs, the ones that people don’t check for. I hope when people listen to my music, they feel a push to keep going. And I want them to embrace who they are. That’s something that took me a long time to figure out how to do, so I hope RARE helps them to do it faster.