AJ Robles: Upcoming single “Minimal”

Interview by Annie Da Silva
Photos by JSLVR Photography

Flirtatious in nature, rudeboy B*les (pronounced ‘be-less’) is a playful, cheeky r&b singer. Drawing inspiration from artists such as D’Angelo, The Roots, Lauryn Hill, and Anderson Paak, love lyrics and heartbreaks are his sustenance and recreation.

Accompanied by his band, B*les & The Suede are a party wrecking crew, traversing through r&b, soul and hip-hop. This smooth ensemble unifies its style with a heavy emphasis on sultry groove.

If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing B*Les & The Suede live, you would know that lead singer AJ Robles holds a charm and an aesthetic that pairs perfectly with his goofy stage persona. Meeting at Barber Culture to chat about his new single seemed like a wonderful way to dig a little deeper past that persona and find the inspiration behind his music.

When did you start writing music?

I’d say about 7-8 yrs ago. Went to Hawaii with my girlfriend at the time, and fell in love with the Uke. Been writing love and heartbreak songs ever since.

When was B*Les formed?

B*les came about after doing a collabo project with my brotha Amaurhi. We dropped an EP called Soul Speak as LesAmauri in 2016. One of the happiest times of my life. The seasons changed, and I’ve been flying solo ever since.

How did you choose the name B*Les & The Suede?

B*les is a play on my last name Robles. At the time I I was going through a lot of changes in my life and shifts within myself. Shedding old habits, self doubt, thoughts, beliefs, ego and expectations that were holding me back from being who I wanted to be. Be-less just made sense.

Choosing a band name wasn’t an easy process. I always knew I wanted to perform with a band, but never came up with one that sounded right. When I finally decided on “The Suede,” I was actually very hesitant.  Anderson. Paak was blowin up and is a massive influence for me, but it wasn’t why I chose the to use Suede. It just came out of my mouth and B*les & The Suede just rolls off the tongue so nicely and sets the right mood for my type of music. I was worried how people would receive it because of that Anderson. Paak influence, but I just said fuck it. People will think what they think, it feels right to me.

Are there any hidden meanings in your music?

My first album, After You, mainly focused on the experiences I had in and after a toxic relationship. Only people close to the situation really understand the jabs I dished out. I had a pretty good laughing fit when I came up with a track titled “Snaps Lol.” If you know, you know.

What three colours best describe your music?

Coral Red, yellow, lime green. All in neon.

Who is your biggest influence in music?

Anderson. Paak hands down. He made it okay for me to do whatever I want as an artist with confidence.

What’s your favourite thing about this line of work?

Performing live is probably my favourite thing about it. When I watch a live show, I just love the energy, mood and feels that come from it. It’s a whole experience. I just want to make people feel the same way. I love watching people enjoy themselves.

What are your top three most played songs on Spotify right now?

Smino – Netflix & Dusse

Goldlink – Palm Trees

Saba – Photosynthesis feat. Jean Deaux

Tell me about your new single; what is the inspiration behind the new track?

The new single is actually produced by my brotha Amaurhi. After taking some time doing our own thing, we linked up and it’s like time hasn’t passed. Love that guy.

The new track, “Minimal,” is super vibey and Amaurhi never disappoints on the beats. Inspiration for this track seeds from how I was feeling exhausted, busy, stressed, and so drained that all I wanted to do or could do with my girlfriend, was just be there. We’d relax, eat in bed, watch Netflix and fall asleep. I mean I love sex, but being that exhausted and mentally drained, holding hands and a head on the shoulder was perfect. The tracks about wanting someone who can hold you down like that.

Anything else you’d like our readers to know?

Being an artist people gonna judge you for what you want to create, but there are others that will absolutely love it and appreciate what you have to offer! Do your thing.

You can stay updated on all things B*Les through Instagram, Facebook, and hear his new song ‘Minimal’ on Spotify on June 15th! They will also be hitting Sled Island stage at Broken city on June 21 if you’d like to see this dynamic group in action.