Adult Programming is the fast-paced confessional archive of Miami musician and actor AJ Ruiz. Born out of a gut-wrenching response to the contracts of adulthood, Ruiz is dead set on freeing himself from the constraints of responsibility through his work and Tropicult is here for it!
The first single released by Adult Programming is the comic and accusatory “YR FAULT.” Influenced by Interpol, Talking Heads, and of Montreal, AP delivers post-punk and new wave aesthetics with a fresh sense of humor. He’s “exploring the emotional tolls of personal responsibility as irresponsibly as possible.” Sounds fun right!?
“YR FAULT is a look at procrastination and its effects on the mental health of young adults. When I come up short on a goal I’ve set I find myself going back to self-flagellation rituals. YR FAULT is essentially pointing the finger at the person who is responsible for all my shortcomings. Me.”
The single is set to be released on Valentines’ Day 2020. Tropicult was granted a preview of the video for the song and is excited for this new artist! The video is well-produced, and Adult Programmings personality shines through in moments of the filming. I interviewed Miami’s latest musical sensation on what inspired him to start making music, what he thinks about the local scene and everything in between.
How did you get started?
I started recording myself in my garage in the winter of 2018. I had been in and out of bands since 2013 and was always looking for a way to self-record. I never thought it was possible because I’m not the most tech-savvy guy. It’s been a long journey to get to where I’m at today. Being able to identify with the bedroom artist (or garage artist in my case) has given me a lot of autonomy and creative control. I’m a little bit of a control freak in general so Adult Programming allows me to funnel that sometimes negative trait into something positive.
What is your music about and do you have a favorite song?
“The name Adult Programming came from thinking a lot about how adults are programmed and hard-wired.”
Favorite song? That’s tough. “‘YR FAULT’ is my favorite to play at the moment. Adult Programming is really vocally dynamic, so to be able to hear my band mates sing along with me during that chorus it feels like we’re all really in it together. It’s a negative song but really transforms into something positive and healing in the live element.” I guess my favorite song that is not mine right now has to be “A Blessing from Ra” by of Montreal. It’s a rarity off some Georgie Fruit “Arousal” tapes. If I could tour with anyone it would be them. They have such a outlandish live show and it would be a dream to open for a group that has given me so much over the years.
I’ve also been especially inspired by Post-Punk/New Wave acts recently like Interpol and Talking Heads. There’s something about Paul Banks’ lyricism and vocal delivery that just makes me feel so cool. David Byrne has been a huge inspiration as far as a sense of humor goes. They inspire me to be as authentic as possible.
The name Adult Programming came from thinking a lot about how adults are programmed and hard-wired. Questioning what an adult is.
- Am I an adult because I’ve hit a certain age?
- Or a certain pay grade?
- Is it about emotional maturity?
- Is it just about being miserable?
I’m not sure but what I do know is that it’s hard to feel the weight of what I’ve done hanging over my head like a perpetual scoreboard of value and worth. I guess it’s a self-imposed thing but I haven’t been able to snap myself out of it.
“I use Adult Programming as a place to exorcise my demons. My logic is pretty much: If I air out my grievances honestly through my music maybe I’ll learn more about myself in the process?”
I find that I usually don’t know what my songs are about until later on in time. I usually write to myself, almost as a way to bolster my spirits or self-flagellate. There’s hardly an in-between. It’s kind of toxic in the moment but after the recording process is finished I feel better.
Being an adult is a challenge! I think a lot of people will resonate with what you’re describing, and I’ve definitely been in that same place artistically before where I’m creating just to create, and the reflection comes after the fact. Out of all the moments you’ve had in your career so far, what has been the most memorable?
I would say my most memorable career moment so far was having the music video for my first single “YR FAULT” be a finalist in three international film festivals and winning at the Hollywood Sun Film Festival in 4 categories. That was really rewarding.
That is amazing! Well deserved and a huge win for you and the Miami music scene in general. What would you say is the best part about being an artist?
I think my gift is action, I’m able to conceptualize something and, with a little help from my friends, manifest it physically and produce it. That’s the biggest thrill for me.
The worst part about being an artist in 2020 is paradoxically one of the best parts about being an artist. The market is so saturated now, anyone can put an album on Spotify regardless of quality so it makes it harder to cut through the noise. At the same time, this gives younger artists opportunities to learn, grow, and become better. I’m a beneficiary of this and am so grateful that the landscape has changed but my ego makes me not want it for others because I guess I’m instinctively selfish and mean sometimes. I’m not a hypocrite except for when I am.
Wow that is honest! With that said, what advice would you give to up and coming artists?
1. Create a lot.
2. Don’t release until you’re ready.
3. Promote it before you release it.
I’ve made about 30 songs since October 2018, not many will see the light of day, but it gives me confidence that I have all these songs as a safety net. Many times I wanted to just release a song (it’s usually the one I’m working on most currently). I fight against that urge. I know I need to give the “promotion phase” its respect. I’m not so arrogant to think people will just be drawn to my music because it’s my music. I understand that I have to architect the whole package for them, genuinely get them interested, then give them a product they will actually cherish and value. Once it’s released it’s not mine anymore, it’s ours.
Awww that’s beautiful! I love that. I truly believe that we’re all in this together! But what do you see as the future of the scene?
I’m very grateful to be living in a time so rich with opportunity. If I had to pick one year to be stuck in musically it would be this year, right now. This is the age of accessibility and as I’ve been reacquainting myself with the scene I pretty much left in 2016, I’ve found that it is as divided as ever and I think most people who are in the scene will say the same thing.
The thing about music scenes that have actually made something out of themselves in America is that bands would join together as friends to support each other and they would end up meshing sonically. They’re inspired by each other. Be it the grunge scene in Seattle or The Replacements and Prince in Minneapolis they brought each other up. When one act succeeds the others do as well. “A rising tide lifts all ships” or something like that?
I think where the success of the scene lies is in actual parties that bands end up playing a la Spec Haus. I think it would work better now because most of us are 21+ so we can cultivate a scene wherein the audience actually has incentive to be there (socialization, no curfews, drinks) as opposed to just supporting to support. That never seemed to have much mileage.