Look out world! PJ is coming through! And she’s coming with a bang. The songwriter turned singer is changing the game. Not to mention, her voice is one of a kind! Her upbeat tunes make it hard to believe that the songwriter’s credits include hardcore rappers Kid Ink, Tyga, Wale, YG, Rich Homie Quan, B.o.B, Wiz Khalifa and Meek Mill. But one thing is clear. PJ is fearless. The artist remains unafraid to stay true to herself and to the public. Her real life enriched messages come from the heart and speak to the soul. In PJ’s song, “Make Believe,” she addresses some of life’s everyday struggles.
This past Saturday, PJ gave us Coogs so much of her love and time. She opened up for Schoolboy Q, rocked the Frontier Fiesta stage, and you loved it! Now, take a look into the mind of PJ. In our interview, PJ opens up about her musical beginnings/influences and her childhood. In addition, PJ gives us an exclusive live performance of her record, “Own.”
PJ’s debut EP, Walking Around Swimming Pools is now available for purchase.
Follow PJ on Twitter and Instagram!
Coog Radio: What was your musical beginning? What made you realize that you loved music, and this is what you want to do with your life?
PJ: Well I think I always had a passion for it. You know, I was in orchestra. I was an orchestra geek in high school. That was fun. Then when I went to school, I started getting into songwriting. So Before I tried to do music, or think, “Oh, I’m going to be an R&B artist.” Songwriting was first. But I’ve always had in the back of my mind. When I got closer to graduating, that was when. Actually, when I met my managers in L.A. that was the moment when I wanted to be an artist, I didn’t want to write, I didn’t want to keep doing that, and be behind people all the time.
Coog Radio: Is there anyone in your family that’s musical? I notice with most artists, somebody in their family did music or does music, and that’s kind of what set that spark for them to go ahead and get into the music game.
PJ: Well, my mom had like a brief stint where she wanted to be a rapper. This was a time period of six months, and that was it. That was when I was in the sixth grade, so I don’t know if that was it. I never saw her perform. I would just see her practice in her room. She wrote music too. My dad, he was a sports guy. He wanted me to play basketball. That’s what he thought I would do. But, my dad can sing! He’s not a singer, but he can sing.
Coog Radio: So your Dad is a sports guy. He’s like one of the high school musical characters who plays basketball, but has a secret talent.
PJ: Yeah, he’d just sing around the house. My dad played professional football, he ended up doing that, but he’s a sports guy. He likes music now, but he’s football through and through. That’s what he is.
Coog Radio: I want to know your goals for music. You are just getting into the game, and I know that’s very exciting. I know you’ve written songs for people before, so it’s not completely like “getting into the game”, but this is all you. You’re an artist now, and on your own. Where do you see yourself? What is the impact you want to have as an artist?
PJ: I just want to be an amazing performer. Since I just started, that’s a big thing to me. I want to be amazing live. That’s the number one thing. In addition I want people to feel my music and everything. And if they feel it. I just want to be able to give them the same experience they got listening to it in front of them. Since I have a lot of influences, my music is not genre specific to me. It’s more like a vibe. Like everything I talk about is related to being the underdog or an outcast, and you know, everyday things. I’m sure as a college student, you may have financial problems and stuff like that. That’s what I talk about. So that’s what I’m working on. Being accepted for the topics, instead of letting people put me in a box saying, “Oh you’re r&b, or you’re pop.”
Coog Radio: You said you have so many influences. Would you care to name some of them?
PJ: So Disney is my biggest influence. That was like the thing…
Coog Radio: Oh my gosh! Listen. Yesterday I was thinking. I realized that I idolize Walt Disney, and didn’t notice. He’s impacted so many lives.
PJ: When I was little, my mom was a single parent, and you know, kids watch TV all day. So I would watch Disney all the time, and when they would get to the songs – you know back then, every Disney movie had a song; it was a musical basically- I would just rewind those and listen to them back to back. That’s why my melodies on my project are like kind of like Disney. Like its super pop. They’ll be pop melodies, but the beats will be like hip hop or whatever.
Coog Radio: I noticed that. I actually was going to ask. With your music I noticed its poppy, but the…
PJ: The production.
Coog Radio: …is mostly hip-hop and r&b. You said you’re not genre specific, or anything like that. Your music sounds summer time-y. I think this is the best time to release it. Do you write based off of your mood at the moment?
PJ: Yeah, it’s mood. And when I work with my producers, we make it at the same time, so it’s like a journey. I can go off chords. Like one can make me feel this type of way, or something just happened, so I’m going to try and write about this thing. It’s very free form. It’s not planned.
Coog Radio: I like that 🙂 since you brought the freestyle topic up… I was telling PJ earlier, “You seem very relatable. Like I can talk to you!” I don’t feel nervous or anything like that. You dress like me, and I feel comfortable speaking with you. I noticed it’s like that. You’re just REAL.
PJ: Thank you!
Coog Radio: Yeah, you’re just real with your image, and your album art work, and your music videos. Even when you sing. Some artists, you can sort of tell who their influences are because they sound a bit similar. But you’re not sounding like anyone. You sound like yourself. I feel that this is someone who knows who she is. Is that the message you are trying to send out?
PJ: It is! It’s not the whole message, but yes. I feel like I am a majority. I feel I represent the majority of people just by how I look and who I am as a person and everything. But in the music world, we’re a minority. You don’t get to see the everyday girl. You see girls who are a certain way, or always talk about love songs or someone breaking their heart, but there are so many other things that we go through that no one really talks about. I feel like I’m an underdog. I feel that I am for you. I am for everybody. Because we’re not out there, but we’re the people who are really out here!
Coog Radio: Yes. We are the ones that make the world go round.
Coog Radio: Did you go through anything growing up that made you decide you want to start being yourself? We all have our ups and downs, and our insecurities. And sometimes we can take those insecurities and kind of transform ourselves into something we wish could be instead of facing who we really are.
PJ: I feel like being a normal kid and going through middle school and high school is enough of a transition. THAT’S going through something. Not necessarily a specific event. High school is hard. You want to be accepted. You want to be cool. Just being a kid, and going through middle school, and high school. That’s enough of an event. It took me 25 years to be comfortable with who I am. You know, like this PJ now. I wish I could’ve had the same comfort back then, but at least I got it now.
Coog Radio: I notice that you have written for a lot of rappers, and they are hardcore rappers like Tyga, Meek Mill… The only singer I saw on there was Chris Brown. When I listened to your music, I thought it would be like some hardcore type stuff.
PJ: Well someone said I should go by the name of Fionna Trapple. (Laughter) You know who Fionna Apple is, right?
Coog Radio: Yep.
PJ: I have different extremes. I guess I have a little bit of depth. Suicidal, is definitely like the more gangsta side of me. I write for guys because it’s harder to get to female artists. Or at least, it has been for me. That was just the first door that opened, and it happened to be the hip-hop world. They would say, “Oh! That’s dope! We mess with you!” I wrote tons of love songs. I have so many love songs, but that wasn’t the thing that got me in the door. That wasn’t it.
Coog Radio: Do you see yourself branching off into other areas?
PJ: There’s a lot of stuff I would want to do. I definitely want to get into film. Not as an actress, just directing and producing, but that’s like, later. That’s years and years from now. Right now, I want to be an amazing performer, and I want to sell albums. Even though people don’t buy albums… (Laughter), but you know…
Coog Radio: (Laughter) People still buy albums PJ!
PJ: They do. There definitely are those people. I have a friend James. He’s the type of person that buys an album, and he’ll listen to the whole album, and say, “Oh I don’t mind it.”
Coog Radio: Do you have any female influences?
PJ: Right off the bat, my mom. I would have to definitely say Lauryn Hill because she was herself. And it’s so clear that she was herself. Of course, Oprah, because she just gets money. (Laughter) and Dolly Parton. I’m just in awe of her musicality. She is an amazing songwriter. Aretha Franklin! She’s crazy. To see her play the piano, like back in the day, and go ham. And Beyoncé, who doesn’t look up to her. She’s and amazing performer. Its Queen Beyoncé. I’m inspired by different things. It’s not just one. It’s a piece of each and I put it all together.
By Tobechi Oparah