Aja Warren was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM, where she studied pretty much all corners of the artistic spectrum- music, acting, photography, painting, theatre, dance. She moved to Denver at the age of 21 to finish up her higher education where she also furthered endeavors in theatre, music and art.
Aja ended up in Los Angeles post-college and promptly signed with a modeling agency, an acting agency, and released her first EP All My Dreams. She modeled in major campaigns for RayBan, Francis Ford Coppola Wines, Grand Marnier, and more, appearing in editorials in various fashion publications around the world. She also starred in Frank Ocean’s music video “Thinking About You,” wherein she played a pioneer woman who’s husband sacrifices himself to save her life.
Aja Warren latest LP, Misbehavin’ is the summation of years of music making, singing, playing guitar and writing songs. Considering the DIY, self-starting, cottage industry music field these days, it’s not entirely unusual to find overachieving artists, but Aja Warren takes the proverbial cake. Stay Tuned for more from Aja Warren.
Hi Aja, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Well, hello! Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been incredible!
Can you tell us more about the story behind your track ¨Revolution¨?
The song Revolution started with a collaboration with my friend Abie Toiber. We were playing all our favorite songs for each other and bouncing ideas off each other. We both had so many of the same classic rock influences and we wanted to make something that really got us moving. When he started playing the opening riff I felt Pat Benatar rolling through me, I just wanted to rock. To me, it meant letting go of all my own inhibitions and just letting out the joy in life, living boldly, having fun and living out loud.
Did any event in particular inspire the song?
There was no particular event, just an eternal quest to live and love freely without hesitation or pretense. I love the carefree and lust for life quality of this song.
How was the film experience?
It was a dream come true. I’ve wanted to do an action project for as long as I can remember. I had worked with the director Bryce Morgan on a couple other projects in the past, so it was easy for us to work together on this. I love her style and I felt so supported throughout the whole project. Our visions lined up so perfectly to make this happen.
Many people (including myself) see a lot of Tarantino aesthetic in the video – did he played a role in the film story or this is a big coincidence?
When I was recording, I kept seeing this very cinematic imagery in my mind for several of the songs. There was a theme of violence that reemerged, and because I love seeing women in action settings I so wanted to incorporate that into the project. When I approached Bryce about my ideas, she had this reincarnation love story already in mind. I read her treatment and knew it was perfect for Revolution.
We’re both heavily influence by Tarantino and especially his strong female characters, and Bryce and I both love the theatricality that we were able to express in this project. I think that’s something else that is a cross over from his work. So it wasn’t a direct intention, but he was a definite influence on us both.
As an actress as well – do you always try to blend your acting skills and love with music or the other way around?
When people ask about my art and which part of my work is the main focus, I have a hard time dissecting it. To me it comes all together. I have something I want to express and it comes along with the story, the sounds, the imagery, the character. So to break it into pieces feels very unnatural for me. I try to create work that allows me to express it all simultaneously. That’s why I was so keen to make this music video into a short film. I wanted to express a powerful female character, tell her story, and give the sounds that accompany this story all together. Her style, her actions, the music, the story telling all blends together and that’s the perfect expression for me artistically.
My first EP – All My Dreams, was written and created with my song writing partner Mike Willis to support and garner interest in a film I plan to produce. As I learn all these different skills in producing, story telling, song writing and acting I plan to bring the full feature project to life and revisit those songs as well as create several others. There’s an incredible set of characters that I’m already so in love with, I really look forward to fleshing out the music into many more dimensions by including these characters and portraying another strong female role as she learns to flesh out and discover her own voice and style.
The single comes off your new album Misbehavin – what´s the story behind the title?
Abie and I spent a long time finding just the right sound that came from a vision I had of sitting in a warm summer night under garden lights in Spain listening to someone play the guitar. Once he and I had the sounds we liked I took it home to work on lyrics and melody. When I sat down with it on my own, the song just poured out of me. I think it came in one sitting, almost completely as is. I had no preconception of what I wanted to write thematically, just this setting, the romance of it, the warm summer night with a slight buzz you get from drinking sangria’s or spanish red wine and floating away as you listen to a melancholy spanish guitar playing in the background.
It tells the story of a woman coming to terms with being mistreated and finally drawing the line as she demands that it’s time to put an end to misbehaving. When I played it for others later, so many people assumed the lyrics were self referential and that the one who needed to come to the light was the singer herself. And in my life I do a lot of personal growth work, so this makes sense to me. It’s about working to treat myself better, calling an end to the behavior in my life that doesn’t serve my highest interest, and thus leading of course to acceptance of being treated better by everyone else in my life.
How was the recording and writing process?
It took a bit of time. I worked on writing and recording this album for about a year and a half. I recorded in Cincinnati, that’s where my dad lives, I’d go stay with my dad and work with Mike Willis at the New Fidelity Studios. We would sometimes write even while we were in the studio. It was a really different process, but I loved it. This is the most involved I’ve ever been with writing music and I grew so much these last couple years in my musical abilities, my style and my ear. I brought ideas to Mike, he’d bring me ideas, and we’d search for a way to pull in all of our varied interests into one cohesive sound. By the end, I really understood so much more about what I had to say stylistically with the music.
On what aspects of rebellion did you inspire to write the songs on this album?
The biggest aspects of rebellion I think this album showcases and embraces are the ones that bring you more to who you are and not who you’re expected to be by those around you. The process of truly stretching to become your authentic self is a sometimes painful and difficult journey, and it can feel so unnatural and uncomfortable, but when you do finally embrace your true nature, It’s so incredibly freeing.
Any plans to hit the road?
I’ve got a show planned in Newport, Kentucky (Cincinnati area) with most of the musicians that played on the album. There will be 10 of us on stage on the 18th of December. I’m so excited to play these songs live with so many talented players and see them really come to life.
Back in LA I’m working with a couple of musicians now to put together a set so we can play around town. I’d love to hit the road, for now, I’m just pulling together all the pieces!
What else is happening next in Aja Warren ´s world?
Right now I’m working on this album release, but I’m also working on producing a TV pilot that I co-star in with a great friend of mine, Zach Baz. It’s a 30 min dramedy about life in Hollywood for the other 99% of people who haven’t “made it” but continue to put their hearts on the line in pursuit of the passions they love. It’s really an incredible thing to ride along as someone in the arts pursues a life that at times can be so challenging and unpredictable. It offers a rare view inside hollywood that isn’t always glitz and glamour, but it’s definitely always interesting and sometimes totally ridiculous. There will be a music component in that project as well of course 😉