Working his music from all angles as a producer, engineer, and artist, Walnut, California native AJ Vibes finds a harmonious relationship between elements of jazz, Hip Hop, Neo Soul, and RnB genres. In his debut single Floriculture, AJ Vibes establishes himself as a trailblazer within the alternative RnB scene. His most recent release The End: Mixtape verifies his command over genre-blending and unapologetic story-telling, with tracks like “LA Sunsets” and “One Too Many". The composite of prismatic harmonies, gritty bass lines, sentimental melodies, soulful lyrics frame an honest look into the reflections and frustrations of a Black man living in America.
Tell me about yourself.
My name is AJ Culpepper. I go by the artist name of AJ VIBES and I am a Black Artist from Walnut, CA. Music has been a part of my life for a long time. I started playing piano and singing when I was about 5 years old and since then I’ve picked up a few more skills along the way like rapping, bass, beat production, and engineering. If I had to sum it up I guess I would say that I try a lot of new things when it comes to music and I try and implement that into my sound.
What is the hardest part about creating music?
The hardest part about my process is definitely executing my vision as I hear it to a T. Every project gets a little bit easier though. I guess I'd call my process more of a trial and error combination. I try to find alternate paths to musical vibes that I've heard other people execute well. I've never really been good at copying or covering songs or genres so I just go off of how the music makes me feel and try and replicate that.
Who has influenced your sound to what it is today?
I'd have to say my top musical influences are Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, and Stevie Wonder. I enjoy listening to their music for different reasons though.
Across the board their storytelling is very raw and personal to their growth as individuals so as a songwriter myself I am always inspired by their songs. Kendrick's early records feel as though he is documenting his life in real time. J.Cole's Forest Hills Drive is quite literally Cole recalling his younger years. Stevie's writing provides a lens for a whole culture of people to see themselves in. Many of their songs gave me the confidence to start telling my own stories and find pride in who I am as Black Man.
I also find inspiration in who they are as creatives. They are all multi hyphenate artists and have no qualms making that known. A common notion in life today against people that do more than just one thing is that "A jack of all trades is a master of none..." but that saying actually has a second part being "... but often times better than a master of one". If there's a yearbook of life I would probably make this my senior quote because a lot of things pique my interest and I want to know I lived seeing through as many perspectives as possible.
As an artist, in what ways have you seen yourself grow from your past projects?
I'd have to say my confidence in my musical sound. The End: A Mixtape is my first self written produced and mixed full length project so trusting in my ear and my pen was key to getting it done. I had to disregard my expectations and stop comparing it to what was out already so I could just let the music flow.
How did you stay cooking while locked in last year?
I spent most of my time writing this mixtape and trying to stay sane through it all I guess that's kinda the same thing though. I also founded an Artist Community called Sounds From Within where our mission statement is to reimagine authentic connections by emphasizing the human within the art. As I grow I want to help others as well so just being able to give back and support the independent artist community we have on this side of town gives me life.