Posted On 31 Aug 2018
RJ has released hit after hit, including “Here Today” which premiered on NBC Universo, “I’m Gone” which garnered millions of views and high praise for the dance skill-set he showcased within his music video, and “Hold Tight” which topped charts in over 14 countries.
His worldwide fan-base has led him to perform around the globe – including 93Q Summer Jam 2018 in NY (alongside Rita Ora, ROZES, etc.), Navi Fest 2016 at Arena Monterrey, Mexico, EXA Festival in Puebla, Mexico, and House of Exile 2017 in NYC.
RJ’s latest original single “What You Need” – a falsetto-laced, funk-inspired dance anthem – showcases his ability to seamlessly transition from genre to genre.
More recently, this summer, RJ released his NEW Latin pop single “Echa Pa’ Acá” with Pitbull, Rich The Kid & Juan Magán. Check out the video below-
Connect with RJ Here:
Music: Spotify | iTunes/Apple Music
Learn more about RJ Word in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you now? What’s on tap for the rest of your day?
My pleasure! At the moment, I’m at my studio working on some mixes. I’ll likely be working on these until I pass out tonight. It can be a little tedious, but it’s always worth it to get it just right.
All Access Music is currently compiling a list of our artist’s favorite songs this summer so what has been your song of the summer? (It can be one of your songs!)
Just finished listening to Sweetener by Ariana and “Get Well Soon” is a hell of a song. I really dig “Feels Like Summer” by Childish Gambino. It’s also great that “Africa” by Toto is back in the spotlight this summer, I’ve been listening to that record on repeat for the last 5 years.
Overall, how do you think 2018 has been treating you and your career? What has been one goal that you have had this year and how close are you to reaching it? Or did you already reach it?
2018 has been good to me so far. Going into the year I knew I wanted to be featured on more projects by other artists, and “Echa Pa’ Aca” was the perfect opportunity to do so. I also put together a new show/set that I’m looking forward to touring more. So I feel like I’ve been doing pretty well with my goals for this year.
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience? Can you see yourself ever doing anything else?
I can’t remember one specific first experience but there was always music playing around the house when I was growing up. I do remember getting the OG iPod and starting to pick what I wanted to listen to. There was a lot of Beatles albums and Henry Mancini scores on there.
Music is, much of the time, about story telling for me. So yeah, I could see myself in a different area of the creative field, as long as I could still make art that takes people on a journey. Music just happens to be my current favorite medium. That said though, if I end up of directing a movie or taking 1 million pictures, I think I’ll always come back to writing songs.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
What really shocked me is how long you can spend on a song. When I first decided I wanted to pursue music as a career it was mostly because I wanted to perform, and I wasn’t particularly interested in the songwriting element of it. But as time went on, I fell in love with the process and it’s perhaps my favorite part of the whole gig now. Some songs seem to write themselves, but sometimes you find yourself starting a song one year and finishing the next. I’m working on one like that right now.
The biggest challenge has been adapting to a music marketplace where people don’t buy music. When I decided I wanted to be a singer, people were still buying CDs of their favorite artists albums and that’s just not what most artist’s realities look like today.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown?
I wouldn’t say my music is particularly “LA” sounding but growing up around so many cultures has played a part in both my personal and musical development.
How would you say that you have grown as an artist since you first starting making music? What has remained the same? How has being an independent musician evolved over the years for you?
I feel like I was completely different person and artist when I started. Sure, some of my core influences have remained the same, but I find a lot of what I listened to and wrote back then pretty boring by my standards today. I’d also had very little in the way of life experience at 13 when I started writing songs.
Being an independent artist was a dream back then. Now it’s my job. It can be a bit bitter sweet at times because the job requires a lot more than just the activities I got into the “music industry” for. But it’s all worth it because I still haven’t found anything that beats singing in terms of sheer enjoyment.
Let’s talk about your newest music. What was the inspiration for your latest track “What You Need”? And what about your brand new feature alongside Pitbull and Rich The Kid on Juan Magan’s Latin pop single, “Echa Pa’ Aca”? What was it like collaborating with them on it?
“What You Need” was musically inspired by a lot of the disco I’d been listening to around the time I wrote it. I’ve always liked to make people dance and disco is the quintessential lush dance music. I knew I wanted to do something in that lane. Lyrically, I just wanted to talk about not needing stuff to have a good time.
I didn’t write any of the chorus in the Spanish version of Echa Pa’ Aca so I can’t really speak on inspiration there. It took a minute to memorize all that Spanish though. I met up with Juan in Vegas a couple days before recording and we discussed the song, but everyone recorded their parts separately.
When do you hope to release more new music? Are you currently in the studio working on some new stuff?
I’ll be releasing some more music in the next couple months. It’s sonically in the same world as “What You Need”.
I’ve been in the studio as much as possible but it seems like life and work keep dragging me away, so the records are taking a little longer than I’d like.
I am curious to know why you think that you have been able to gain such a large Latin following when you aren’t of Latin descent yourself? Why do you think that you have had that appeal?
Some of my singles did really really well in Mexico and ended up going viral. Not exactly sure what caused it but I’m just happy when anyone anywhere likes my music. I’m very thankful for my fans in the Latin community and all around the world.
I would love to know more about your other interests; film-making, photography and fashion. How do you stay active with them all these days? How do you they help you be a better musician?
I’ve always been fascinated with any kind of art. No matter the format you can always tell some version of a story, or at the very least, convey an emotion. As someone who gets bored very easily it’s truly delightful to have other avenues to express your creativity.
I’ve directed some music videos for myself, and having photography skills is just vital to having a good looking Instagram. I think all these passions help improve my storytelling capabilities and that helps push my songwriting.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
It takes quite a bit of energy but thankfully I’m not in it all alone. As the RJ Word brand has grown so has my team, and it makes everything more manageable. I still love to communicate with my fans individually though. When someone is doing so much to support you its nice to let them know they’re appreciated. A lot of them are starting to feel like extended family.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Max Martin, David Bowie, The Beatles, Toto & Heatwave to name a few. It’d be absolutely amazing to work with anyone on that list that’s still with us.
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you and why?
A solar powered iPod for the sake of longevity.
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
The Eric Andre show would have to be my first choice. I think most of my records demand a lot of attention and could come across as distracting. On a traditional narrative that can be problematic, but on The Eric Andre show it can work. If you don’t understand why, then you haven’t seen the show.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music?
I hope they hear something they’re not used to hearing and feel inspired to do whatever they want to do while listening to it.
I really want my records to act as a gateway for people to start listening to songs with more complex musical theory and arrangements. Let’s make musicality cool again.
(All photography provided by ICON PR)