AJR: From NYC streets to worldwide spotlight

AJR talks with Emma Hulsing about the band's rise from street performing in New York City. (Photo by Michelle Ostrander)

AJR talks with Emma Hulsing about the band’s rise from street performing in New York City. (Photo by Michelle Ostrander)

By Emma Hulsing   

AJR is rocking the radio with their hit song “I’m Ready,” but boy, they were not ready for the rocky experience of their journey into the spotlight.

AJR are quite a good example of the term “practice makes perfect,” and they would know. AJR started off performing on the streets of New York City.

“People used to come up and kind of take the mic from me, and I was just an 8-year-old kid,” says Jack, 17. “They would put rocks in our hat where we were collecting money, as a joke, it was kinda rough.”

After many years of working their way into the spotlight, AJR have finally left the New York City streets for some much larger venues. Though they’ve moved up in the industry, they still try to keep their music, and band, authentic.

“We write, produce, record, and mix all the music ourselves in our living room,” says Ryan, 20 “and we’re kinda proud of that.”

They try to keep it “super personal” by interacting with fans through social media, and, says Ryan, “we pride ourselves in that our music is very unique.”

They gain their influences from “music of the 50s and 60s, like the Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel” but, says Ryan, “we also gain influence from hip hop artists like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and Hoodie Allen.”

They combine multiple kinds of music to gain that very unique sound, which is evident from listening through their new “Infinity EP.”

“We are also influenced by the city we grew up in,” says Adam, 24.

Having their single “I’m Ready” go platinum hasn’t changed these three brothers from the streets of NYC.

“We’re in this weird situation because we do shows like this and people come, which is cool, but then we go home and we’re just regular people,” Ryan says, “so we’re in kind of like and in-between stage. But it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

Don’t worry about AJR getting too caught up in the limelight though. When asked if they would ever return to their roots in street performing, Adam responded, “Absolutely. I mean, we grew up street performing so it’s definitely near and dear to our hearts.”

Emma Hulsing is part of our program at Mount St. Mary Academy in Buffalo.

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