Canadian export AJA has been going from strength to strength. Not long after joining viral sensation Leah Kate for her recent twenty-two date US tour, AJA is hitting the road once again with Charlotte Sands to perform across the UK and Europe.

Making a name for herself with her authentic slices of therapy pop, AJA has found herself building connections with audiences around the world by processing complex thoughts, emotions and experiences through razor-sharp songwriting. AJA’s latest, the heartfelt R&B-flavored “Find Better”, details the difficulties of navigating long-distance love and the toxicity that can brew in unhealthy relationships.

With the singer’s debut EP in the works for a Summer 2024 release, the LA-based artist’s fresh insights into love, life and relationships delivered via her powerful vocal tones and unrivaled songwriting will surely see her continue to rise. We caught up with AJA to talk about “Find Better”, new music, touring with Leah Kate and her industry experiences – read on for more.

SheBOPS: Your new single “Find Better” is a powerful song reflecting on a toxic relationship. What prompted you to write about this experience?

AJA: I moved to LA when I was 18 and was in a toxic relationship that I knew was wrong for me.  I always write songs about what I am experiencing.  My songs are my personal diary.  For me, sharing my personal experiences help me connect to my songs and make my live shows so much more authentic than writing about a generic topic.

How does “Find Better” fit into the broader narrative of your musical journey?

Lyrically, “Find Better” really highlights the fact that I knew the situationship I was in was totally wrong for me.  It almost holds me accountable for allowing it to happen.  As I’m growing on this musical journey, I think “Find Better” shows a more mature side to my songwriting.  

Did you encounter any challenges while writing or producing “Find Better”? If so, how did you overcome them?

“Find Better” has a bit of a different feel than my last several releases.  One could say it could confuse my audience.  I loved this song the moment I wrote it.  Vocally it has a very cool, almost R&B vibe, but still sounding like me.  I was torn and everyone had a different opinion as to whether or not I should release it.  I kept coming back to it and had it on repeat on my long drives.  I always wanted to release it.  I think it’s important to go with your gut.  

You recently wrapped your support tour with Leah Kate. How do you feel this tour helped you to develop your skills as an artist and performer?

Leah was great to open for.  She has great energy, is so much fun and is so talented.  I loved opening for her.  Doing over twenty shows in five weeks really strengthens an artist’s performance.  From my first show to my last, there was such a change in my confidence and overall performance.  Each show, I would sit back after and analyze and think of ways to make my next show better.  It is such an amazing experience.

What excites you most about your upcoming tour with Charlotte Sands in the UK and Europe?

I’d love you to ask me this question after this tour.  It will be interesting and I bet my answer will be different as to which city I liked the most.  Probably, if I had to answer now, I’d say London and Paris.

What’s a typical day in the life of AJA when you’re touring or performing?

I am usually driving from city to city in a sprinter van with my band, tour manager, and sometimes one of my parents.  I often have to wake up pretty early and I wash up and hop in the van, often in my pajamas.   Once we arrive in the next city, I usually have to get to sound check, which usually takes me about 30 minutes, and I rush to the hotel to chill out and start getting ready for my show.  I usually Uber Eats some dinner, do my vocal warm ups, and get to the venue for my set.  If we have time in a city, we try to go and see some sights.  

What has been the most unexpected challenge you’ve faced in your music career so far?

If I’m being completely honest, I would say keeping up on social media has been my biggest challenge.  I love social media because it allows me to really connect to fans, especially those I can’t in person.   But as more platforms pop up and new features pop up, so do the social media demands; it sometimes interferes with me creating new music.  If I’m in a session working on new music, it kind of ruins the vibe to sometimes say, hold on, let’s get a pic or a video.  It feels awkward and inauthentic at times.  

How do you think your music has been influenced by your Canadian roots?

I think growing up in Canada, I have been blessed to get Canadian opportunities that have helped my career over the years.  I think Canada has some amazing artists.  

As a young woman in the music industry, how do you perceive the current landscape for female artists?

I have always felt empowered.  I have had a very strong network around me and have been surrounded with very strong independent women.  I think artists like Taylor Swift are really helping pave the path for female artists in terms of taking control of their own business.  

Can you share any personal experiences or challenges you’ve faced as a woman in the music industry?

I have been very fortunate and have not had many challenges as a woman in the business.  I would say, maybe there have been a few sessions I’ve gone into that I felt like I wasn’t being heard and my opinions and contributions weren’t relevant. That could have been not only the fact that I am a woman but that I have always been the youngest person in the room.  Overall, I have been really lucky.  I know many others have not been.  

How do you think the representation of women in music has evolved over the years?

I think women are being recognized the way we should be.  I think that women are empowered and feel they can express themselves as they want.  This has not always been the case.  When I look at great female artists of past generations, they were all represented by a mostly male team.  Every major decision for their career was made by a man.  

What steps do you believe are necessary to achieve greater gender equality in the music industry?

I think it’s not there yet, but we are moving closer.  I think calling out all of the bad behaviour that has gone on is a start.  I think as more people speak out about predators in the business, a shift will naturally start to occur.  There will always be bad things that happen in any business but I think it’s time to take down those in power who are abusers.  I think once this happens and women continue to be recognized and compensated equally, we will be that much closer to gender equality in the music industry.

How do you think the industry can better support and amplify the voices of women in music?

I think as women continue to put out impressive art that is being recognized they are amplifying their own voices of women in music.  I also think as more women fill leadership roles throughout the music industry and are in positions of power, we will continue to see the amplification.  I am certainly proud to be a woman, though there may be some gender challenges I  will face, I feel confident in 2024.  

Lastly, what’s next for AJA after the release of “Find Better”?

I have a few more singles I plan to release leading up to an EP this summer.  I am really excited to be putting out a body of work.  

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