AJ Smith Talks Visual for New Single ‘We’re All Gonna Die’

The Hype Magazine

Dr. Jerry Doby

September 21, 2022

Breathing new life into pop-rock, AJ Smith has been steadily climbing the charts with his nostalgia-laced, effervescent tracks that recontextualize modern music. Heavily inspired by pop culture and the zeitgeist of the 2020s, AJ Smith’s music is a time capsule of the feelings and emotions we are all currently experiencing. Blessed with booming vocals, impeccable songwriting, and rockstar stage presence, he’s earned numerous accolades, including the prestigious Abe Olman Scholarship from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and a semi-finalist ranking in the 2020 International Songwriting Contest. Most recently, AJ Smith made his prime-time TV debut on The Kelly Clarkson Show, where his songs hit a new level of exposure. Whether it’s bubbly pop tunes or cascading rock ballads, AJ Smith’s versatility is multifaceted, making him a thrilling act to follow.

AJ Smith’s latest track, “We’re All Gonna Die,” bears a jarring title, but it offers a triumphant look at all the battles listeners have overcome in just a few short years. Facing a global pandemic, political tensions, recession, and the rapid development of integrated technology have all played a pivotal role in shaping the current existential dread many are dealing with. “We’re All Gonna Die” serves as a cathartic release of these emotions with powerful lyrics and ‘80s stadium rock-style verses. The music video showcases AJ Smith’s impeccable ability to curate powerful visuals that elevate the song’s theme. The video is rapid intercut shots of the artist getting pulled into a virtual world where he battles with fiction and reality. It’s a thought-provoking visual that encourages viewers to question their relationship with technology and internalized issues.

Can you explain the process of creating the “We’re All Gonna Die” music video? Did you envision what you wanted for the visuals from the start or was there a brainstorming process?

I was envisioning a wild high-budget Black Mirror episode as a music video. But of course, I didn’t have the budget to make that happen. So when Evan and I started planning, he had so many creative ideas on how we could still capture that sci-fi vision that I had with his rogue solo camera style. He convinced the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria to let us film there for free, including this epic green screen room. It turned out so energetic and so cool and eerie. Evan’s got such a cool style that’s unlike anything I’ve done before. And he’s been awesome to collaborate with on both videos for “We’re All Gonna Die” and “Better”

How would you describe your own musical sound and genre?

Classic rock-inspired contemporary stadium pop. We’re just not playing stadiums yet 😉 but I write and imagine all of my anthems shaking MSG.

Can you reveal your first memory with music? When did you discover it was a passion of yours?

One of my first memories is sitting in a window well with my family dog listening to piano lessons through my godmother’s window. She lived two doors down from us and I snuck out of the house as a pretty young toddler while my mom was in the shower. Terrified my parents when they couldn’t find their kid at first, but they started me on piano lessons shortly after that to keep me from wandering off again.

I’ve always been passionate about composing and songwriting. I started composing original music in my manuscript paper notebooks at 6 or 7 and drew my first album cover at 8. So it’s pretty cool that I’m still making music and making those dreams happen.

“My generation is all depressed, we’re a mess, we’re a mess,” is a powerful statement. How do you believe this track is relevant to our society, and how do you hope it impacts listeners?

A global pandemic, world war, the existential dread pressing in on all of us – I’ve been on a challenging mental health journey over the last six months. And I think a lot of people are experiencing this same internal messiness. Where we say we’re fine, while trying to figure out how to handle the next curveball. I hope this song lets people know that they aren’t alone. And that it can give them back power in speaking the usually unspoken truth that “we’re all gonna die, we just don’t know when” so that we can “make the most of the time that we got left.”

Do you have any favorite lyrics from “We’re All Gonna Die”? If so, why are they special to you?

I honestly love the opening line a lot. “So effing tired of just surviving all the time. I want to scream into the night, ‘I’m alive, I’m alive!’“

Life can be so challenging when feeling like we’re not in control of any aspect. When we’re just fighting to make rent to pay someone else’s mortgage at a job we hate, five hundred miles from friends and family, and with no clue what is coming next. I’m so grateful that I get to make music for a living now. It’s something I’ve fought for over the last ten years and it’s exciting to feel like I’m truly living and thriving and not just surviving.

What is one of your proudest accomplishments in your music career thus far, and why?

That’s a tough one. I think the answer would involve some very recent music business accomplishments that I can’t quite talk about just yet. But I also think, creatively, I set out to release a lot more music this past year and I stuck with it and did it. And the community we’re growing as a result is so incredible to see. I seriously have the best fans. They’re like my family. And we hang out on discord, have game nights, and more. And growing that family is something I’m really proud of and excited about.

What do you hope to accomplish in your future in music?

Name a goal and I have it. Pick a dream and I’ve dreamt it. In the immediate future, though, and as a smaller “want” – I’m excited for “We’re All Gonna Die” to be my first song to cross 1 million streams on Spotify. We’re on track for that to happen in the next week or two and that will be an incredible milestone for me that we’ll definitely be celebrating!

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