Post-punk is alive and thriving in Miami. ⭐️
Meet Adult Programming – the shimmering project of singer-songwriter AJ Ruiz. With their punchy tunes and dramatic aesthetic, AP is captivating the local scene and promising lots of thrills at their gigs.
Their glittery punk sound and image are odes to the romanticism, melancholy, and camp of vintage pop – everything from the moody goth of the Sisters of Mercy to the absurdist synthpop of DEVO.
And it’s a delight to witness.
We got the pleasure to chat with Ruiz to on his creative process and eclectic sound, as well as the Miami music scene and his colorful debut singles.
Read below (all answers from Ruiz):
Tell us the story of Adult Programming?
Ruiz: I often joke that I became an “adult” in three months. I graduated college in May 2018, got married in June, and got employed in July. It was a big transitional year for me and although I was super proud to be in a loving relationship, have a salary, and finally be out of the safety bubble of school – I started to feel an enormous pressure.
When you’re not in school, there is no defined track. I think a lot of people my age feel the ground shake beneath them after leaving college. In the midst of feeling this weight to build something, I started self-recording in the December of 2018.
I tend to liken my process of creating/recording to an exorcism. I feel like I’m purging the anxiety out of my body by locking myself away and manically creating. Although I wasn’t aware of it while making the music, I see that my music is and was a direct mirror of my mental health at the time. I feel very deeply that my self-worth is tethered to what I have created—what I’ve done. I’m not sure if that’s a result of living in a capitalist society or if it’s just my vanity.
Either way you cut it, it’s something that is deeply rooted in me. This is the crux of Adult Programming. All the mental anguish that goes along with the “American Dream” ideology. I think as I continue to grow up I’ll find a more sustainable, healthy way to process the world around me but at this moment it’s what drives me to create the most honest, compelling art possible.
I feel very deeply that my self-worth is tethered to what I have created—what I’ve done.AJ Ruiz, Adult Programming
How long have you been making music?
I’ve been making music since 2012, you can say. Starting out in Kendall with a band called Purple Sun, eventually releasing an acoustic solo project in 2015. I’ve been in quirky side projects my friends and I have created as goofs. Typical adolescent musician trajectory. I took a break from music when I was getting theatrical training but that ultimately made me a more fearless artist. So breaks are good, kids.
How would you describe your sound?
Post-punk with a sense of humor.
What artists most inspired you to make music?
I pray at the alters of Kevin Barnes and Howard Stern.
You have a very eye-catching look that gives off strong ’80s vibes. Are the ’80s particularly important to you?
The ’80s are important to me but I wouldn’t say any more important than the ’70s, ’90s, or ’00s. People tell me my music has a super ’80s vibe which is cool – but nothing I was really trying to capture.
What are some of your biggest ’80s influences?
Some artists from the ’80s I love in reference to this project are Talking Heads, New Order, The Chameleons, and Gang of Four. They really made music for the time. I hear “80s” and I see lasers, I see smoke, I see romanticization of the future. One thing I love about these ’80s groups in particular is how they brazenly attacked art and technology.
One thing I love about ’80s groups in particular is how they brazenly attacked art and technology.AJ Ruiz
Your sound is quite angsty and punchy. What other musical influences do you claim?
I am really influenced by Interpol, Joy Division, and of Montreal. I pretty much only listen to music my friends recommend me and then get really, really into artists my friends were into, like, three years ago. This must irritate them. I’m kind of slow when it comes to music digestion.
What inspired the words and sound of your debut single, YR FAULT?
I always say I don’t really know what my songs are about. My friends and wife say that’s bullshit. I just create and try not to judge it so much. YR FAULT is a really pessimistic, sort of aggressive song. I’ve definitely felt vitriol like that before. I’ve come to the conclusion that in most of my music I’m talking to myself. I am definitely self-flagellating in this one.
It goes back to Self Worth vs. Production. I am not satisfied with what I’ve done in my life artistically and I am dragging myself for it. It’s nobody’s fault but mine for where I am at the current moment. That applies to both the positive and negative in my life. I think that will always remain true.
What does Miami mean to you musically?
Hm. I’m not sure what Miami means to me musically. There’s a lot of EDM and Reggaeton that’s for sure.
As far as the indie scene is concerned we’re all islands to ourselves. There are a lot of different scenes here. We need more unity but that’s easier said than done. Not many of our local acts are inspired by each other it seems. The exception are Cannibal Kids x Polar Boys, Palomino Blond x Las Nubes, and Firstworld x Millionyoung. That’s inspiring to see, not to mention I adore every local act I just mentioned.
We need more acts teaming up like that because there is such strength in numbers. I am always scouting for local acts that I feel would gel well sonically with Adult Programming. I think Bed Scene fits pretty well with us actually. I love them.
What do you hope to contribute as part of the growing Miami music scene?
I hope I can raise the bar for aesthetic and performative value in my city. I am well aware of where my strengths lie. No one is coming to an Adult Programming show to hear me sing or hear how well I play guitar. They’re coming to see me perform. I want to put on shows my audience can feel warmth at. Shows in which they leave feeling loved and most importantly entertained.
I want to put on shows my audience can feel warmth at. Shows in which they leave feeling loved and most importantly entertained.AJ Ruiz
Tell us about your latest single, Let it Come 2 U:
LET IT COME 2 U is all about self-care and acceptance. Being a young adult is full of “measuring stick” ways of thinking. I’ve always compared myself to others and have been obsessively keeping score, “what have I done in the time I’ve spent?” The mantra “LET IT COME 2 U” can remind us to slow down and that greatness waits for us just as much as we wait for it.
“YR FAULT” was much more pessimistic. I like to think I’ve moved past that sort of self-deprecation or at least have grown from it. Beating yourself up is not really a sustainable business model.
What are some of your goals as a new act?
I feel a lot of local shows harken the mantra of “support! support!” but that’s when that meme rings in my head of “okay yeah but be good first lmao.” I want to build a culture in AP where people come to shows because they’ve had genuine good times at my show before.
I greatly appreciate support of any kind but I am well aware if I do not offer an experience that is compelling and desirable I will not get any returning audience members. And that’s how you really build a scene, give people a real reason to be there.
What would you like to say to our readers?
Thanks for reading this far into the article. I am trying my hardest to make content that resonates with you. I am much more concerned with depth as opposed to width when it comes to our relationship. If you want to hit me up about our next show, next single, or just to talk, my DMs are always open. Sending love your way and keep your eye out for what’s coming next.
For updates on Adult Programming, AJ Ruiz, and more, follow the band over on Instagram.
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