Writing the Liner Notes for by Kianna Camille & AJ Rios' 'Ultraviolet'

A quick look back at a writing highlight from my summer.

During the summer of 2019 Karas Lamb gave me the honor of curating and writing article for Okayplayer’s “Mixtape Monday” series. I highlighted several instrumental albums on Bandcamp and put together a 179-beat Spotify playlist featuring 179 different producers.

One of the instrumental albums I focused on was Virginia Beach producer AJ Rios’ 2018 release Pastimes vol4. I wrote the following:

“Hailing from Virginia Beach, AJ Rios started the Pastimes series as a way to showcase his early work as a producer. This entry demonstrates that Rios had a gift for nuanced compositions from the very beginning of his career, as he offers several beautifully dark and brooding instrumentals for listeners to digest.”

I’ve monitored his career closely both before and after composing this piece, often checking for his official releases and beatmaking/live performance videos on Instagram and Twitter.

When he and Kianna Camille approached me to write the liner notes for their conceptual summer of 2020 release Ultraviolet, I was elated. It gave me a chance to really immerse myself in their work, talk to them about their creative process, and try to capture the energy and the spirit of their record with words. I hope I did a decent job.

Since this seems like the perfect place to revisit what I wrote almost half a year ago, I wanted to share the liner notes with all of you. I hope you enjoy them and the experience of listening to Ultraviolet.

Ultraviolet Liner Notes

In late 2019 real life couple and musical duo Kianna Camille and AJ Rios combined forces for their lush collaborative album 22 Mirrors. Highlighting Rios’ soulful production and Camille’s gorgeous vocals, the album was a promising debut that showcased the pair’s radiant creative spirit. In the months since their work has received the enthusiastic endorsement of beat scene icons like Knxwledge.

Less than one year after dropping their first full-length joint effort, Camille and Rios are back with Ultraviolet - a concept album that explores the emotions of an ongoing toxic relationship. With careful attention given to each lyric, Camille’s songwriting takes the listener through the roller coaster of initial excitement, anger and betrayal, and eventual forgiveness of an unhealthy romance. Featuring largely non-sampled music and a heavier emphasis on live instrumentation, Rios’ production elegantly embraces the vocals throughout this unique feat of musical storytelling.

Between the infatuation on “Your Love (Demo)” and “Ride,” the heartbreak and pain heard on “Dusk” and “Pieces (Of Mind),” and the uncertain acceptance beautifully expressed on “Waiting,” the listener leaves Ultraviolet feeling like they’ve been sitting side by side with this fictional couple throughout their ups and downs.

Audiences will also gain an intimate familiarity with the artists who painstakingly crafted Ultraviolet. Sidestepping the single-driven market of the modern industry, the album is a richly layered, captivating experience. With Camille handling all songwriting and vocal duties with the exception of a cameo from Mr. Wright, and Rios taking on instrumentation, mixing, and production duties, every facet of the final project is very much their own unique creation.

In a world moving at lightning speed where albums seem to come and go with the blink of an eye, Ultraviolet gives listeners permission to let go and fully immerse themselves in the music.

Make sure to check out Ultraviolent on Bandcamp.

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