Aly & AJ have been around for more than a decade, but it wasn’t until around 2016 and 2017—more than 10 years after the band’s debut—that they really felt like themselves as artists. Another moment came more recently, in 2021, when Aly & AJ released their fourth studio album, A Touch of the Beat Gets You Up on Your Feet Gets You Out and Then Into the Sun.
“For the band, I think that that happened in like 2016/2017 when we started feeling like we had a grasp on the kind of artists that we wanted to be,” Aly said for StyleCaster’s “What She’s Having” interview series. “I do think there was another level-up after that when we made A Touch of the Beat. That was even more of a, ‘OK. We’re really ground in this place where we’re in as artists.'”
Aly & AJ—consisting of sisters Aly Michalka and AJ Michalka—are the cover of StyleCaster‘s May 2022 issue, the Festival Issue. In their “What She’s Having” interview for the issue, AJ explained that, for her personally, she didn’t come into her own until she was around the age of 20 and 21, filming The CW show Hellcats in Vancouver, Canada, on her own. “For me, personally, it was around the age of 20/21 when I first started living on my own and I was shooting a TV show in Vancouver at the time,” she said. “I feel that was really important for me to experience because I didn’t have my mom and my dad and my sister cooking, cleaning, picking me up. It was just me doing everything, like driving myself to work and grocery shopping. That was a very integral part in who I was.”
As for AJ, the younger of the Michalk sister explained that living on her own also helped her come into her own and find herself outside of Aly & AJ. “For me, I would say it was when we stopped living together. We had come from our family home to then being in a house just two sisters to then her husband moving in with us. It was total Three’s Company,” she said. “Aly had a home life with a husband, so I think for her the challenge was different because you’re just integrating your life with someone else. For me, it was learning to live completely alone, which it forced me to figure out, ‘OK. Who is AJ outside of Aly & AJ?’ And I actually think I’m still figuring that out.”
While both Aly and AJ are in their 30s now, they still look back fondly on their childhood. “As kids, we grew up watching a lot of animated movies. We kind of dove back into watching some animated films when we were at our mom’s house a few weeks ago,” Aly said. “I was like, ‘I feel like I’m a little kid again.’ I’m in my night gown, just chilling and she’s making us food and we’re watching Encanto and Luca back to back. I was like, ‘I’m 10 again.'”
For AJ, she’s proud of how she and Aly stayed true to theirselves and their bond to each other when their careers skyrocketed as teenagers. “Growing up, Aly and I, no matter how big our careers got when we were teens, we always stayed very earnest people and really honest and really open. I think that can be the not cool thing,” she said. “Now that I’m older, that’s just who we are, and if we do come off sometimes like a sisterly Hallmark card, whatever. That’s what’s so beautiful about a bond like this. You don’t have to be like, ‘Well, we don’t want to show it because it might not be cool if we do.’ Now that we’re older, I’m like, ‘Yeah, this is us. We’ve kind of always been this way.”