Music plays an enormous part in my life as an artist. Every time I go into the studio to begin a new piece I create a specific playlist for that session. None of my playlists have ever been the same. So my collection of musical styles, genres and time periods is quite broad and takes up about 1.5 TBs of room on a number of external hard drives. Every other week or so I go looking for new sounds, songwriters and bands to listen to in order to satisfy my taste, so when I eventually moved to Austin, TX, a place where music flows like water, I knew for the first time in over ten years that I was home.
In 2008 when my wife and I returned from living in China I heard about a musician by the name of David Ramirez out of Austin, TX. We had numerous friends in common, and he at times played small acoustic shows at their homes and favorite coffee houses or bars in Dallas (where we were living) from time to time, shows I was never able to attend. Time passed, and I continued to hear his name come up in conversation. I am a connoisseur of excellent singer-songwriters — I own the majority of Bob Dylan’s work, from albums to bootlegs and b-sides, the same for Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, Stevie Wonder, Patty Griffin, Lou Reed, and Sufjan Stevens (the list could go on forever so I will stop now). Whenever I discussed “local” Texas songwriters, I continued to hear the name David Ramirez.
One day while talking to my brother in-law, Austin musician Lamar Stockton (see: Lamar Stockton: A Little Hope Goes a Lone Way) about David, he told me he had just played a show with him a few nights previous and that David was amazing and absolutely impressed him. Lamar is a brilliant and educated musician so I had to make time to go see David Ramirez live but would have to wait another year.
I ran into David with a group of friends at SXSW in 2010 and enjoyed the few minutes we shared in conversation after an awe-inspiring Dawes and Delta Spirit show. (It wasn’t until SXSW 2011 that I first saw David play a live set). I had taken the time to watch everything David had up on youtube as well as getting his EP “Strangetown” so I knew his work was very, very good. But actually getting to watch him perform live is what sold me. I watched and recorded his set at the One Pulse Medium SXSW show, went home and watched it a few more times and knew I needed to add David to our already incredible Artist Collective.
The night that I was crafting an email to send David asking if he would be interested in being a part of our collective, my wife and I were perusing through I-tunes movie trailers and came across the preview for “Between Notes.” The preview buffered and the first thing to appear on the screen was the face of David Ramirez along with one of his tunes in the background. It was a confirmation to us to add him (if he was interested) to our Artist Collective. He answered yes, and this is the first time, here on HyperVocal, that we are announcing our latest addition to the Veritas Artist Collective, David Ramirez. Here is a recent interview that I had the opportunity to do with David about his music, his influences and his future. Enjoy!
What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
I’d love to say Americana or Folk but since, for some reason, I can’t loose my grip on my pop roots, I must name it Pop-Folk.
I’m influenced by a number of folks. There does not exist an art medium that hasn’t influenced my work and life in some way or another. My biggest influence though comes from my peers who are pursuing their own dreams and talents. They keep me afloat.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing?
I’m going to be very vulnerable here so be gentle with your judgment. When I first started writing I wanted so badly to be Dave Matthews. I wrote and sang in a manner that very was similar to his. Okay, I pretty much copied him verbatim. Since then I’ve fallen in love with simplicity and just honest, great story telling and I try very hard to make sure I’m doing that. As a kid I wanted to be flashy and impressive and that bled into my work but as I’ve grown I’ve thought less about how my work is perceived by others and more about what it does for me.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
A few years back I heard Ryan Adams say he writes for at least 5 hours a day. The thought was completely foreign to me. I’m butchering the quote but he said something along the lines of “I don’t deserve to be seen as a writer if I’m not putting in the work to be great”. I admire him. I admire anyone that adopts that mindset about his or her work.
What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?
I remember my very first concert ever outside the neighborhood pool. I asked several friends to join me in putting on a show and after zero rehearsals and piecing together a makeshift P.A. we managed to put on what was one of the worst performances ever. However, the redeeming moment for all of us was, despite the surface, we were filled with so much joy from the moment. For this reason I enjoy reflecting on my very first concerts and recordings. The process was completely pure. As far as present day goes, every show brings a fond memory. Whether the set is pulled off perfectly or is laced with mistakes I find something worthwhile to remember. The minute I stop doing that is the minute I should stop playing.
If you could of been born at any other time in history when and where would that have been, and why?
I’ve recently become enthralled by this show, Mad Men, that takes place in the ’60s. In our day and age we are surrounded by ads and even more options so it’s been interesting to see how that all begun. I often find myself being envious of the people that lived before those agencies came into play. I know it sounds strange to base my answer off a time without advertisements but that’s all I got at the moment. I’d love to drive without seeing billboards, while listening to a radio station without commercials, to a grocery store with only one option for milk and bread.
I recently watched the trailer for the film “Between Notes” that you star in. I was honestly blown away. (The film is directed by Christopher Grissom based on the screenplay by Matthew Austin Brown.) How did this experience change you as a person and musician?
Being a solo artist I don’t get to collaborate very often with a large group of people. Film, in my mind, takes the most collaborative effort and it was beautiful and inspiring to be a part of that. I left that project wanting to do more things with more people. I think I feel more satisfied when completely different people come together to make one great thing.
The soundtrack for “Between Notes” looks like an amazing group of Texas musicians, tell me about the process of writing songs to fit a story.
I wish I had an epic story to tell about that process but the truth is I was going through something very similar to the script so it all just kind of came together. Despite the simplicity of it all I really did have a great time going through the process.
What is on the radar for David Ramirez?
That’s a good question. Other than music I don’t have much going on. I’ll be releasing a full length next Spring (’12) and I’ll be touring a bunch. It’s a pretty simple gig really.
When are you completely satisfied with your work?
Unfortunately I doubt I’ll ever be fully satisfied with my work as a whole. I used to think I’d reach a place/mindset that would lead me to create the most wonderful things time after time and at any given moment. I don’t believe those things anymore and to be honest I’m okay with that. As far as the individual songs, I’m not sure if I’m satisfied in the same ways or for the same reasons with every tune. I guess I look for complete thoughts and if I feel that I’ve made one, I’m happy.
If you could emulate any musicians career, who would that be?
I have no desire to be world famous. My desire now is to create what I want and ride this life out with an audience that believes in me and I in them. I don’t know these people personally but I get that same feeling from Ryan Adams, Derek Webb, Gillian Welch (most folk artists), and even bigger bands like Modest Mouse, Wilco, and Arcade Fire.
What is the best movie you saw, book you read, album you listened to, and/or TV show you have watched recently?
– Movie: Kicking and Screaming by Noah Baumbach
– Books: The Bourne Trilogy by Ludlum
– Album: Son House
– Show: Friday Night Lights
What are your hopes and plans for this year?
Go on tour and open for a national act and Lord willing write my next album.
What 4 things would you like to do before you die?
I’d love to settle down with a lady and have some children, Make a positive impact on and help move forward the Art community as a whole, have a few drinks with Ryan Adams, and learn to like onions.
What do you predict will be the next big social change?
Unfortunately I think we’ll be in this social networking stage for quite some time. Maybe forever. But I do believe that we as people will learn how to balance it out in our lives. It may sound simple to think of “balance” being a big change but from where I stand the lack of “balance” has gotten us in trouble. I think we’ll catch on to how we’ve abused these networks and the desire that is within us all, to have true connection, will again rise to the surface and push us to interact in real space and time. At least that’s what I hope for.
For more information about David and his music please visit: www.davidramirezmusic.com. For more information about the film “Between Notes” please visit: betweennotesmovie.com. To find out more about the Veritas Artist Collective and it’s collection of talented Artist’s visit: www.liveveritas.com