AJ Mclovely Interview- Music Saved Her Life
Ladies and Gentleman, I would like to introduce you to one of my favourite musicians at the moment: AJ Mclovely, who lives in Scotland, and she has just released a 4-track EP called Healing.
We get to know a little bit more about this awesome musician in this interview. Enjoy the read.
Hi AJ, welcome to Fanbase Music Magazine. As you know, I’m already a huge fan and have had the pleasure of interviewing you on other platforms, so it’s great to finally feature you in Fanbase Magazine
First of all, I think the name you go by is awesome; how did you come up with your stage name AJ Mclovely?
I was given my name by my supermarket delivery man Andy, many years ago. When I started doing open mic sessions and gigs he had already left the supermarket delivery side of things and he had become a taxi driver – he ended up taking me to and from a lot of my gigs and suggested I use the name. So I did.
Can you tell us where you are from and where did you grow up?
I was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and have lived all my life there other than my years at Glasgow University.
How did you get into music?
My mum and dad have always been very musical, with my mum being proficient on various instruments including guitar and piano, and I was brought up with music as a key part of my upbringing. I had dabbled with singing in my early twenties, recording a number of tracks that were never released, and then it all ended when I married and had my children. I got back into my singing just prior to the COVID pandemic outbreak by singing at open mic nights in my local area and forming a band; but then lockdown hit. I continued by setting up a music page on Facebook, which quickly grew arms and legs, with a worldwide following and many collaborations with other musicians, allowing me to develop my songwriting and singing as an independent artist.
For anyone who hasn’t heard your music yet, how would you classify your sound?
It is difficult to pigeon-hole my sound, as I like to vary my songwriting; something I think is evident on my EP, Healing. I have an eclectic musical taste and like to vary, and dabble in, many genres. I have been told that I have a soulful, melodic voice and have been likened to Eva Cassidy, which is very flattering; but I like to reflect certain diversity in my songwriting, experimenting with pop, country, electropop, adult contemporary and other genres.
Who are some of the bands and musicians you grew up listening to that you feel have influenced the music you write currently?
There are too many to list them all. I have a great love of 90’s trance music, but have been influenced by the likes of Pink, Olivia Newton John, Dolly Parton, Dido, Sheryl Crow and Sia among others. I have also covered songs from the likes of Radiohead, Erasure, Talking Heads, The Cranberries and Metallica, so my musical taste and influences are very diverse.
You apparently have been a beauty Queen; can you tell us a little bit more about that time in your life and how did you get into it?
I was entered for a magazine contest and managed to get through and from that I was approached to enter Miss Scotia. Again, I managed to get through to the finals and, subsequently, got asked to take part in Miss Great Britain. From then on I won Miss Commonwealth Scotland and then came 2nd in Miss Commonwealth International. It was a remarkable few years, which resulted in a lot of charity work and being invited to many celebrity events.
You have been through a lot these past few years, and you can speak as much or as little about it as you feel comfortable with; but my question is: when you’re going through hard and tough times, do you feel that listening or even writing music helped a little to get you through those difficulties?
I would go as far as saying that music has saved my life. The last few years have been very traumatic for me, dealing with various life-changing events, including the loss of my dad to cancer, which hit me hard. My own music and music in general, has been a great healing force that has given me focus and purpose. I believe we have all suffered through the COVID pandemic; and music can be a great source of comfort, as many of my fans have stated. Much of my songwriting comes from the traumatic events in my life, giving me the opportunity to turn negative experiences into something positive. My songs have great meaning for me and my fans; and this is something I’m very proud of.
For anyone who has gone through similar tough times, what words of encouragement do you have for them?
As a mental health ambassador, I talk openly about my own struggles in a bid to encourage others to do the same; and also to raise awareness and remove the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues. I would encourage others to talk to someone, a friend, or family member and seek the help they need. I have found great solace in nature, photography, fitness and music; and would encourage people to find their own passions that could help relieve the pain and aid recovery. I have been in some very dark places, but with the help of family, friends and charities such as SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and Branching Out, I have found the strength to fight through.
Let’s talk about the EP now: The EP is called Healing; how did you come to that EP name?
My manager, John, actually came up with the title for the EP and we both felt that this was very appropriate as the tracks represent a period of healing for me; with the three self-penned songs not limited to writing only about traumatic events, but also speaking to hope and resilience following such events in anyone’s life. The titles of each track, Born To Make a Difference, Hold On, Bleeding Heart and Breathe give a real flavour of the themes within the lyrics.
Can you tell us about the recording process of the EP and where was it recorded?
All the featured tracks are collaborations with other musicians, mostly under lockdown restrictions, so this meant that some of the tracks were recorded remotely and apart from each other. Hold On and Breathe were recorded at local recording studios in Aberdeenshire when restrictions allowed.
One of the tracks namely ‘Bleeding Heart’ Features Angelo K on the track; can you tell us what it was like working with him and can you tell us a little bit more on who he is?
Angelo is a music producer based in Greece who specialises in electropop and ambient music, and he contacted me through social media to ask if I’d be interested in collaborating with him on an album project he was working on. He was brilliant to work with, and it all had to be put together, piece by piece, through Facebook Messenger and Email, but the result is something we are both delighted with. As well as the version of Bleeding Heart featured on the EP, there is a chillout mix featured on Angelo’s album titled Memories.
Who else works on the EP with you? Do you play with actual band?
All the tracks are separate collaborations: The opening song, Born To Make a Difference, is a composition by Richard Barriball; Hold On is a collab with guitarist Kevin Buchan; and Breathe features Dennis Douglas on piano.
One of my favourite songs off the EP is Hold On; can you tell us about that song and the meaning behind it?
This song originated as a guitar melody by Kevin Buchan. Kevin was looking for someone to write and sing lyrics to it, and that’s when I became involved. The song is a lament written about the battle with mental health struggles, giving a message of hope that ‘there will be a better day’. The song is a great favourite with my fans, with many of them messaging me to state that it has been a great source of encouragement for them in dealing with their own traumas. This means everything to me, to know that the song has helped so many push through some tough times.
What are your future plans? Is there anything in the pipeline we should look out for?
I have a number of projects in the pipeline, including further collaborations, an album of covers and a full album of original material all planned for later this year.
Can you give us your social media link; how people can get hold of you; and what pages should they go to, to like and follow, and where do they go to listen to the new EP?
My EP is available in CD format from my website store and all four tracks are also available as downloads on all major streaming platforms. My links are:
Thank you so much for doing this interview, you are one of my favourite artists and you’re always welcome back on Fanbase Music Magazine.