Miami-based artist PJ Aviles has been releasing and performing in the South Florida music scene for years, and has finally gifted fans with ‘Anything,’ his self-recorded and self-produced debut album!
Stream: ‘Anything’ – PJ Aviles
Born in Cuba, Pedro Aviles moved to Miami, Florida at the age of 5 years old. With his father as a touring saxophone player in Latin bands, Aviles was introduced to music at a young age. He has been recording and releasing music independently on Bandcamp since 2013, and has made a name for himself in the South Florida music scene. On October 6th 2023, about 10 years after his first few releases on Bandcamp, Aviles released his debut full-length album, Anything.
Before the release of the album, Aviles released singles in 2021 titled “End of the World” and “(I Swear) It Gets Better,” both written in 2020 and inspired by feelings that arose during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Stating that the initial process of making the album was “a mess,” Aviles said that while he had always wanted to make an album, he took a break from making music for a year.
“I missed it a lot and out of nowhere I had these 5 songs from the album that I wrote at once.” He decided to use the traction from his previous singles and put them together with his new material to start curating what would become Anything.
The intro to the album, “Crazy for You,” was ironically the last song that was written for it. Aviles stated, “Alright, I have an album but it’s missing an opener… Oscar Familia (from Miami band REMYZ) came over, did the loop in 5 minutes, and left.” After opening the project back up, Aviles decided to write over it, admiring its upbeat and driving energy. He was able to complete the track in 10 minutes. “What I liked about it is that it perfectly described my current relationship… it just felt right to have that as the opener.”
The next track “17” was “the first song I ever wrote on a mandolin” and tackles feelings on growing up and missing what it feels like to be younger. Almost 10 years away from being 17, Aviles said that even though it doesn’t feel like a lot of time, so much has transpired since then and it only feels right to reminisce on moments in life when there weren’t so many responsibilities or worries. With instrumentation that is mostly bare, the main goal of this track is for people to listen and resonate with the lyrics.
Track three, “Bien” is a bit of a divergence from Aviles’ typical sonic identity, and it’s a pleasant surprise for those who are already familiar with his discography. “That song is like the ugly duckling of the album [laughs]. It was more of an experiment than anything else to use modern RnB sounds and still find a way to be led by an acoustic guitar.” Choosing to try and push the boundaries of his experimentation, Aviles tinkered with different samples and meticulously crafted an instrumental in a way that was unique to the way he usually writes songs. Typically sitting down with an acoustic guitar and making a melody, he chose to create an instrumental and layer his vocals on top, which is a recipe for something entirely new for an artist. Aside from the instrumental, the language is different, and he chose to sing in English along with Spanish to pay homage to his birth country, Cuba.
If words of affirmation are your love language, then the track “All My Love” is the song for you. With a smooth beat and a swelling horn section to back up Aviles’ crooning vocals, the lyrics are straightforward about unconditional love. In line with the theme of conditional love, Aviles was able to get his father, a touring saxophone player to play the horn parts with other musician friends on this song. It became a sort of full circle moment as Aviles was born into the world of music from his father, and to have him playing on his debut album was a special moment for him. While talking about it Aviles said that he “outsourced within the bloodline”.
Being heavily influenced by the modern legend, Phoebe Bridgers, the track “Autumn Moon” was a personal favorite of Aviles. “As far as production goes this was the most experimental I’ve gotten”. In terms of the lyrics, he chose to have them be vague so listeners can have fun coming up with their own interpretations.
The album continues with the track “Holdin’ on to You,” which deals with faith and Aviles’ struggle with his relationship with Jesus and says he wanted it to feel like you’re sitting in a confession booth and submitting to a higher power. “I feel like that’s the most mature song on the album.” As life goes on and people get older, things get more and more difficult. The song tackles those feelings and delves into questions of what it all means and what the point of anything is. Questions on whether or not there is a higher power and what their plan for us is are dealt with in this track. The use of a gospel choir truly puts a stamp on how mature a refined Aviles’ songwriting has become since he started making music.
Coming to the end, Anything closes off with the first single that was released, “End of the World,” with a newly added trumpet to give a fanfare type of feeling. When asked if there were any plans after the release of the album, Aviles said that he released two live sessions of songs from the record and plans on releasing two more. He’s currently taking things at his own pace and hoping to expand out of the Miami music scene and grace listeners outside of his hometown. When asked about final remarks he said to follow him on TikTok and he says that he has more songs to write in this life.
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© Steph Estrada
an album by PJ Aviles