Q & A: Music Video Director & Bassist, AJ Astle on Co-Founding Roadhouse Productions With His Best Friend & Sharing the Stage With Canada’s Country Artists

Hailing from Toronto, ON is a music video director and bassist, AJ Astle. In 2016, Astle founded Roadhouse Productions alongside his business partner and best friend, Jonny Diano. In the years since, they have produced well over 100 videos for emerging artists & rising stars– including Ty Baynton, Nicole Rayy, Emily Clair, Jesse Slack, Elyse Saunders and many more.

Recently I spoke with Astle about co-founding Roadhouse Productions, being a bassist for several Canadian country artists and more.

Kyla Pearson: For those who are unfamiliar with you and the company you co-founded with Jonny Diano, “Roadhouse Productions”, can you tell us a bit more about your path to pursuing a career in videography and what your company offers artists?

AJ Astle: Videography wasn’t something I had even remotely considered as a career going into college. I had always had an interest in cameras but it was more of a hobby than anything. Jonny and I met at Humber College while pursuing our bachelor’s degrees in music performance. We noticed a lot of our friends and colleagues needed photos or media content for their assignments so we started helping out where we could. Eventually, someone asked if we could do a small performance video for them. I had absolutely no clue how to film a music video so I just said yes and figured it out from there! 

We offer everything from music videos to live-off-the-floor audio and video recordings for artists. We’re a mobile and small team so we can go pretty much anywhere! Our goal is to help independent artists create video content that helps them further their careers and make it to the next level.

Kyla Pearson: In relation to the previous question, what’s it like being able to work with your best friend (and co-founder) every day?

AJ Astle: It’s a lot of fun and it’s definitely something that plays to our strengths. We’re really open and honest with each other and he catches a lot of the stuff I may miss. If we’re not gigging on the weekends together we’re likely on set filming during the week so we see a lot of each other

Kyla Pearson: When it comes to filming/directing a music video for an artist, what is the most difficult and easiest aspect of the job?

AJ Astle: It really is a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it’s the concept that is the most challenging while other times it’s managing all the different groups of people involved in a project. I just try to remain flexible and rely on the skillset I have. Though I’d say the hardest part of the job personally is doing administrative stuff. I’d much rather be out shooting and being creative all day long if I could. But making sure you answer your emails in a timely fashion is just as important.

The easiest thing for me is being on set and behind the camera. I love being in a creative space with creative people. Once that ball starts rolling it’s hard to slow me down. Folks who’ve been on set with me know I can get really excited.

Kyla Pearson: What is one thing that artists should keep in mind while working on set/with a videographer?

AJ Astle: Be a good communicator and come into the project with a positive attitude. If you’re feeling a little unsure of something just ask. It only takes a couple of seconds to talk something out or clarify something. I’m all about having fun on set and I want to make sure everyone is in a good headspace. Positivity onset is key! 

Featured: Music Video Director & Bassist, AJ Astle.
Featured: Music Video Director & Bassist, AJ Astle.

Kyla Pearson: You’re also a bass player for several country artists. What is one of your favourite performances you’ve been a part of? How does your work as a professional bass player positively impact/influence your work as a videographer?

AJ Astle: There’s been a lot of performances that have stuck out. Recently I think my favourite weekend of last year was the CMAO/Boots & Hearts weekend. I played the CMAO New Faces showcase on Friday with Charissa, Kansas Stone, and Owen Barney. Then Saturday played at Boots with Owen and then went back to play at the CMAO awards that evening. I also ended up filming some stuff around the awards as well. I like being busy!

I think being a working musician is definitely a major help when I’m in the filmmaker role. I tend to film and edit very musically, and the song really dictates how I shoot and edit. I feel like it often gives me an extra layer of understanding of the song I’m working with.

Kyla Pearson: What is one piece of advice you’d give an emerging videographer who wants to specialize in music videos?

AJ Astle: Make sure to always serve the song. I relate it a lot to being a bass player. It doesn’t always have to be flashy but your job is to support the artist’s song and the vision behind it. Adding your own creativity and vision is always a good thing but remember to have the song’s best interest in mind.

Kyla Pearson: Moving forward in 2022, what is one goal you hope to achieve by the end of the year?

AJ Astle: I’m really excited for this year, we’ve got some amazing projects getting lined up already. I also feel like my skill set has expanded to a point where I can take on larger and more complicated ideas. I’m also really excited about this year’s festival season. I can’t wait to get back on big stages with my friends. 

 

Stay up to Date With AJ Astle & Roadhouse Productions:

IG: @aj.astle & @roadhouse_productions

FB: @roadhouseproductions

Website: www.roadhouseproductions.ca

 

Works Cited:

Astle, AJ. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, Feb 15 2022.

Unknown. “Featured: Music Video Director & Bassist, AJ Astle”. Photo courtesy of Aj Astle. Accessed Mar 21 2022.

Unknown. “Featured: Music Video Director & Bassist, AJ Astle”. Photo courtesy of Aj Astle. Accessed Mar 21 2022.

 

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