AJ Moreno has been on dance music fans’ radars ever since he was hand picked by Radio 1’s Danny Howard to open the BBC Introducing stage at Creamfields. Since then he’s headlined Be Street Festival in Paris and produced official remixes for Wiley, Will Young and Sam Lavery, while his up-front house banger No Trust peaked at #1, #8 and #17 on three Beatport charts and was featured on Radio 1, Kiss 100 and Rinse FM.
His last release on Humble Angel Dance – Put ‘Em High, released earlier this year – has clocked up over a million streams on Spotify alone. The follow up, Real Love, however looks set to hit even bigger numbers, and may well prove be a career-defining record for AJ.
Hi AJ, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hi guys, thanks for having me. Yeah, I’m good guys thank you. Just trying to keep everything moving in these mad times!
From all the songs out there, why did you choose to cover Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love”
It’s one the classics tracks that I’ve wanted to do for ages! It was my partner Sian that gave me the idea, we were going through our favorite old skool tracks. To be honest I started this track about 4 years ago! The version you’re hearing is like version six, three singers later haha! All the previous versions were cool, but my production wasn’t working it the way I wanted it to be, it was only this year when I revisited the track that I was loving it. Called up Eff to vocal it and then it was a wrap!
What was the approach you went after with this song?
As a follow up to ‘Put ‘Em High’ I just wanted to keep it ‘feel good’ especially in such a mad time in the world. I wanted to give something uplifting again. I personally love big piano house/ dance music anyway, so often I just create the stuff I love to hear myself.
How did you go on balancing the original with your own personal take?
With this one, I didn’t really want the topline/vocal to stray too far from the original, so I think wanted the production and 125bpm to change the track. Effie smashed the vocal as always! She’s something else with the vocals!
How was the recording and writing process?
The previous versions were quite stressful to be honest haha, that’s because of where I was as a producer though. What I wanted to do, I couldn’t quite do yet, Iguess until 4 years later lol! Better late than never though huh! I started with piano and was playing with different progressions till I came up with whats in the song, I love that progression! haha. Then I called up Eff, she came to the lab the following week and we got all the initial recording done that day.
What was it like to work with Eiffel and how did that relationship develop?
Effie and I met through our mutual friends Just Kiddin’, we met in the DJ booth at Ministry of Sound! Just Kiddin’ we’re spinning and Lewis introduced us. When he told me she was the voice behind their single ‘Body Talk’ I was like, I need to get in the lab with her, I love that song! haha! We’ve been mates ever since and we’ve put out two records now.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?
I think it depends on the project, If its a collab with another producer, I want to bring ‘me’ to the song, and leave them enough room to bring themselves too, if that makes sense. I think collabs are awesome, more ideas, different paths you can take with the song, more opinions haha, you just have to remember music is subjective and opinions will vary! But luckily with the artists I’ve worked with, we’ve had a very similar vision/ ear for the end result.
What role does London play in your music?
I’ve got friends who are artists based in other countries and they definitely say my music has that ‘London sound’ haha so I guess I must be influenced by my city’s vibe. I sort of get what they mean, if you listen to the dance music coming out from London to like Stockholm, there is definitely a different feel. I think wherever I am in the world my surroundings influence my mood, which dictates the vibe of the song I’m creating. Since this whole COVID-19 mess, I’ve just wanted to keep my head up and encourage people, especially fellow musicians and artists to do the same. So while reminiscing about Ibiza, with the nice weather we had a few months ago, we have piano and uplifting chord progressions. Add Effie’s amazing voice and we have that ‘summer’ vibe I was going for.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
Yeah for sure, the next one is pretty much done, just working out the arrangement, the label and my manager are feeling it, so fingers crossed that’ll be the next one. I’m actually really excited to drop that one, we’ve been working on it for about a year now and this is the 3rd version haha, I think it’s the one though for sure. Stay tuned for that 🙂
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
I’m not sure to be honest, but possibly early 2021? God willing, this COVID shite would have gone by then!
What else is happening next in AJ Moreno’ world?
All my live stuff has either been cancelled or postponed this year so hopefully next year we can pick up where we left off. I’m just in the lab as much as possible and writing as much as possible. I’ve got about another 5 projects in progress, cool collabs as well as some remixes coming out later. Just keeping busy while I’ve got more free time…as well as doing up my house lol! 2020 has made me a Producer/ Carpenter/ Decorator lol! Been bang on my DIY as much as my production lol!