BY SHARON CHIDRA JONAH
After having a career in acting, and paving his way to a fast-paced success, Netflix “Lost In Space” star, Ajay Friese is turning onto his first love, music, and is killing it. In this interview with Ajay Friese, we talked about his acting career and roles, new music releases, the underlying messages in his songs, and the future of his music career.
Ajay Friese first appeared on our screen in 2012 as Rupinder, an Indian exchange student in the Canadian sitcom, Mr. Young. We knew him as the smart and cute Indian kid in the show, now the Canadian-American Heartrobe has won roles in shows popular with viewers, and have stolen the hearts of many; such as “Riverdale”, “Lost In Space”, “The order”, “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, and many more.
In his latest show, “Lost In Space“, and new music releases, Friese has proved himself to be a promising act in Hollywood, who can independently forge his part and create a community of fans who are inspired by his talent. With his latest singles, we can notice the pattern of emotions felt by youth which Friese has successfully expressed in his music.
Sharon: For those who are new to the scene, can we have an introduction to your background?
AJAY FRIESE: So, my name is Ajay Friese. I am a Canadian – American musician and actor. My mom is of Indian descent and my Dad is of Nothern European descent. Also, I just released my debut album!
Sharon; Let’s talk about your latest single, “fuc**king sad.” It appears like an emotionally packed piece to the listeners. What message were you hoping your fans take away from this song?
AJAY FRIESE: I went through a period a couple of years ago where I was extremely self-critical on a daily and I took everyone’s opinion to heart. As a result of this, I ended up judging myself harshly and it simply just made me “fuc**king sad” (laughs). So this song is about that period, with the message that you have the power to push through that, get back up and keep on walking. A lyric from the song says, “I wore my heart right on my sleeve and look at where that got me.” meaning I will never compromise who I am just to fit the standard of what people want me to be.
Sharon: You’re still new in the music space and it’s been almost a year since you started releasing covers on Youtube, how has that experience been so far?
AJAY FRIESE: Well, music is my lifetime dream. It’s something that has always come naturally to me, and I’ve always wanted to record my ideas and present them to people. Now, I’ve gotten the opportunity to do that in New York City with some Grammy Nominated musicians, and that to me is a dream come true. It’s also cool because I wrote and arranged all the songs but were played by musicians more practiced and skilled than I am, and they made what I wrote sound the best it could be.
Sharon; That some experience right there. Talking about the experience, you played the violin when you were younger, do you still play that or other instruments?
AJAY FRIESE: Funny story, when I was three years old, my parents asked me if I wanted to learn some instrument and I chose the violin. For an unknown reason, I loved the instrument. But, during my Grandmother’s 90th birthday, I performed and after that, I announced I was retiring from the Violin. I was only four at the time (laughs) I also started playing the guitar and writing down my songs when I was in middle school. I play the piano a little now and I love live orchestration, and that’s why “fu**ing sad” has a lot of symphonies of instruments in the background.
Sharon: You seem to have a lot going on when it comes to your music and its genres but what can you say is your style of music?
AJAY FRIESE: I should probably put some thought into this (laughs). I make music because it’s what I love to do, and I enjoy the feeling it brings but I feel if I’m to stick to one genre, I wouldn’t be as happy and I wouldn’t be able to create what I truly want. I have made a variety of songs; From folk songs to pop to hip-hop and even a bit of soft rock, and these are evident in my just-released EP. I like to think of my future songs as a playlist of songs that seems to connect but come from different styles. Basically, I don’t stick to one genre. I just make what I feel.
Sharon: Still on music, on the third season of your show, “Lost In Space.” you had a song feature there. Can you talk about that experience?
AJAY FRIESE: Yeah, I didn’t know that will happen. I discovered I will have a song feature while reading the script, and I just saw it there, like it was another line. I was beyond excited to be able to combine music with a character that was very important to me.
Sharon: Your debut Ep “light a match and run” seems to have a story behind it, what inspired it?
AJAY FRIESE: The Ep is a collection of songs I have written over the past ten years and the oldest is Blackberry. The story behind the title (light a match and run) has to do with one summer when my best friend and I were playing with matches, and we accidentally burned down the hill by my house. No one got hurt, luckily but twelve-year-old me was left pretty scarred by the flame ends. So the song is about me dealing with the guilt of a fire I started, which works both metaphorically and literally. But, I did confess to my mom about what I did through a letter. (laughs)
Sharon; Let’s talk about your character, Vijay Dhar in “Lost In Space”. How was the experience playing him and bringing the character to life?
AJAY FRIESE: It was pretty exciting being someone from the future who is a space traveler and it was pretty easy bringing that enthusiasm to the role. It was also my first love interest role and playing that feels like a special and fulfilling experience as an actor.
Sharon: The season of “Lost In Space” that was released is the final season. Was it emotional for you when ending the show? How has the journey been?
AJAY FRIESE: I’m very glad that we decided before writing and filming that it would be the last season – it allowed us to beautifully conclude the plot in an awe-inspiring finale. Honestly, I was sad that the show was coming to an end – but what I didn’t expect was to feel so satisfied and complete after filming my final scenes. The show has meant so much to me over the last four years, and it’s a magical final season. I’ve grown as an actor and a person, and have built incredible, long-lasting relationships. Mina and I are good friends – in fact, she directed my music video for Blackberry – and did an incredible job! Raza (my father on LIS) has been both a trusted friend and a mentor, on both acting and life. And Max, Taylor, and Ignacio….I admire them and we will be forever bonded by this incredible experience. I feel so fortunate.
Sharon: Is there anyone in the music and movie industry that you look up to and would like to collab with in the future?
AJAY FRIESE: I remember discovering Taylor Swift on Youtube when I was 11. it was a sort of magical inspired feeling that I got from her music and videos. Over a decade later, during the pandemic, I felt that same feeling again when I heard her Evermore album. I am so inspired by her songwriting and poetry, as well as her use of live instruments, and her ability to create emotion. I’d definitively love to collaborate with her.
Sharon: Which are you planning to lean towards more, music or acting? And how do you plan to balance the two?
AJAY FRIESE: I’m still exploring the balance – sometimes I get so into music and just want to forget about acting for a few months, and other times I get so inspired and passionate about acting, and weeks pass without me picking up my guitar. The wonderful thing about the two is they feed into each other creatively and emotionally. I am also lucky to have such a varied fan base, which I hope enjoys getting exposed to both aspects of my work!