Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pop artist and writer AJ Raggs, Angelo Ragghianti, has been performing for over 15 years. From the time he was 8 years old, AJ loved to sing. He dreamed of becoming a professional singer and today, those dreams are coming true. AJ plays piano and guitar (acoustic and electric) with a live looper pedal, and performs year-round as a member of the Schola Cantorum at Most Precious Blood of Jesus Parish. Some of his influences are Nick Jonas, Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, Tori Kelly and Jason Mraz. For fans who have never heard your music, can you pick three words to describe it?!
Well, hopefully the songs are Energetic, Relatable, and Anthemic. I'll let you be the judge of whether it always works out or not, haha!
What is your favorite part about being an artist? Is it songwriting, performing, recording, something else?
This is like trying to choose which child is my favorite (even though I don't have any...yet!) I think I'd have to split it between recording and performing. I say recording because it is a tremendous joy and blessing to be able to see a song go from a work-tape with an out of tune guitar, or basic piano chords and scratchy, unsure-of-what-I-just-wrote vocals, to a full blown produced track! It almost always amazes me how awesome the journey from A to B can be! It often goes places I never even thought it would. As for performing, There is nothing quite like the energy that an audience gives to you when you are performing for them. That's a high you never want to come down from, and I'm blessed to be able to experience that!
Can you tell us what being in the recording studio is like for you?
Well, there's a lot of prep-work that goes in before I actually get there! Ideally, I'll take the time to listen to a number of songs I like for reference to send to the engineer/producer, and we bounce ideas back and forth. I also really like having an extra ear there for production, but especially for vocal production. I need someone to tell me when I could've sung that better! My go-to for that is Carrie Cunningham, who co-wrote my latest single, "We Were the Band" which will be out everywhere March 19! She's got an incredible amount of knowledge and an amazing ear! So grateful to be able to learn from her. She's also a country artist of her own - make sure to check her out!!
Okay, this a fun question. When you are not doing music, what else do you enjoy doing?
Honestly, it depends on the day, but right now I'm really enjoying re-watching my way through the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe - Spiderman is my favorite for anyone who's curious. I also recently purchased an e-reader. It's one of my goals to try and read a little bit every day. I used to do it all the time as a kid! A lot of the time now, I end up watching TV because I don't have to "work as hard", but I do enjoy both! I also consider myself an aspiring baker of gluten and dairy free desserts! I like taking my favorite recipes, and transforming them into ones I can actually eat, haha!
Who do you admire most in the music scene today and why?
I feel like the answer to this question changes a lot, but honestly, for the past few years it has been Tori Kelly! She is SUPER talented in her songwriting and her vocals - ohmygosh that VOICE - but I also really love her faith in God and how she's not afraid to share that with the world - she's not quiet about it. That's what I want to be like. She showed me that I can. :-) I've actually met her twice! Once at a meet and greet in one of her concerts, and once completely by accident in Nashville, TN - and I was wearing her hoodie!! That was one of the greatest nights of my life so far, haha! I just want to write and record a song with her! To have her show me up on a record would be AWESOME!! hahahaha.
Can you tell us what song you've written that is the most emotional and describe the meaning behind it?
Despite the fact that I try to write more upbeat and energetic songs, I actually have a TON of sad ballads hahahaha. One of the songs that came to mind with this question is called "The Room". It digs into a little bit of my college-party-scene experience. I never wanted to drink at parties - even after I was legal. It was very hard for me to have fun at those kinds of things when all of my friends would get drunk, and some would even go as far as to do other drugs. Sometimes I was able to be there, and have a good time, but a lot of the time, I felt left out. I can't WAIT to release this one someday - I'm hoping a lot of people will relate to it.
Are you working on any new material right now or what's in the works for the upcoming year? By God's Grace, I have a decent amount of songs in the pipeline that I'm planning to release this year! I also have recently written a collection of songs that fit into like an 80's pop kinda vibe, that I'm super excited for! I'm thinking this might become an EP! I haven't released one of those in a long time!
For social media, you can find me on most all of them @ajraggs! TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.
For more information on AJ, please visit his website.