Kendall Musician AJ Ruiz Embarks On a More Sentimental Path

AJ Ruiz
wants you to make you cry — you know, those authentic ugly, wet, gut-wrenching tears. At least that’s what he is hoping happens when you listen to his debut solo album Nimbus.

“I want my album and my songs to be that song that you listen to in the car and cry to. I want you to get home from a show and not want to go home cause you just don’t want to deal with yourself, you don’t want to deal with your house, your parents or whatever and you just want to sit down and listen to this song and cry. Or not even cry. Just be and sing to it and understand and be like ‘Yes, dude, yes. Fuck, you’re me,’” Ruiz says.

Hailing from Kendall, the 19-year-old is typically known for his lively on-stage persona as the frontman of the Miami rock group Purple Sun, a position he's held for a little over three years now. But these days, he's exploring a side of himself he suspects most might people don't know is there.

“People see me in Purple Sun and I think they see me like, ‘This guy’s crazy. He’s probably on drugs.' But my real passion is sad acoustic, slit-my-wrists music. I love that music,” Ruiz says.

He says embarking on this solo process has been refreshing, giving him an autonomy he's never had before.

“I don’t have to ask anyone, which is scary too. It’s very scary for me to put out a solo record because if I suck, I suck. That’s all it is. I suck and it’s all my fault and I’m shitty and it’s just all me,” he says. “You can bounce back as a unit. As one person, it’s very scary.”
He cites Neil Young, Eddie Vedder, and Leonard Cohen as his main influences. He admires how they were able to encapsulate sadness and passion in their own songs.

“Those three are definitely my pillars — my son, father and holy spirit of that solo album,” he says.

His particular brand of sadness is one we can all probably relate to. It deals with the all too familiar topic of unrequited love. “It’s very much like that sadness when you leave someone or when someone leaves you and someone doesn’t care about you," Ruiz says.

Ruiz has been happy with how his Kendall crowd has supported the release, much to his surprise. He doesn’t expect to make something huge out of his solo effort. He's still keeping most of his eggs in the Purple Sun basket, partly because he considers this latest musical tangent only an accent to his overall career. He also doesn't see much room for his solo music in Kendall's predetermined music scene, which, in his world, is the only scene that exists to him.

“I feel like it’s just so microcosmic," Ruiz says of his western slice of Miami. "Everyone knows each other here and you know what that band does and you know that they’re going to deliver every time, which is wonderful. But I feel like there’s a lack, not only with Kendall but other scenes too, that we just don’t really mesh. Not that we don’t mesh well but there’s no crossing of streams,” he explains.
He’s not sure whether it’s a genre thing, a location thing, an age thing, or simply a combination of many factors.

“People are great here. You have to really know the person to get in. There are certain shows that are just Kendall shows. We have those places and I wish people from other scenes, wherever you are, would come and intersect with us or we intersect with them, whatever it is,” Ruiz says.

Like many musicians who find themselves off the beaten path, Ruiz still looks upon the more active parts of Miami's music scene with longing. “Maybe it’s an exclusive club and I’m not invited but I wish I would be," he says. "I would love to get in on that. That’s where the real stuff is and the real success. The real possibility of being something, whatever that is. Maybe this is like level one. I feel like more Kendall people are in that same nebulous haze as I am.” 
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Junette Reyes is a Miami native multimedia journalist with previous writing credits at FIU Student Media, South Florida Music Obsessed, and WLRN. She generally prefers chilling with cats over humans and avoids direct sunlight to maintain her ghastly appearance.