SXSW Music Interview: David Ramirez

Houston native tips his hat to Eighties pop


Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

A Wim Wenders film. A lonely night in a motel room. A drive through the desert contemplating life and death, love and heartbreak. Such vignettes come to mind when listening to David Ramirez, a Houston native who found his way to Austin by way of Nashville in 2010.

“Originally I moved here for a gal,” he shares via email. “Once that ended, I stayed for the tacos.”

Ramirez remains known for his tattered, Dylan-esque vocals and airy blend of country and folk rock. In less than a decade, the singer's churned out four full-lengths and two EPs. 2013 extended play The Rooster and Fables two years later stand out in particular, but last September, he transcended the so-called singer-songwriter genre with magnum opus We’re Not Going Anywhere.

“Lyrically, it’s a record about rebellion from corruption, death, and distance,” explains Ramirez. “Musically, I’m tipping my hat to Eighties pop.”

Citing influence from childhood faves such as the Cars and Journey, the Texan – with help from producer Sam Kassirer – added layers of keyboards and vintage effects to shake any banal troubadourisms from the album's sonic palette. As such, We’re Not Going Anywhere isn't kitsch. It has the empathy of Springsteen's lyrics, the melodic soul of Cohen, and the vocal heartache of Cash, yet it's all uniquely Ramirez. It's this agglomeration of sounds, and his ability to draw listeners into his quaint world, that makes him stand out when Americana dominates non-urban radio.

“Outside of a solo tour in June and July, the band and I will be spending a lot more time in the studio,” admits Ramirez.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
A smaller SXSW Music week still satisfies

Kevin Curtin, March 23, 2018

SXSW Music Review: Keith Urban
Live Shot: Keith Urban
Country superstar’s “Wasted Time”

Doug Freeman, March 17, 2018

More by Lauren Modery
Texas Platters
Kat Edmonson
Old Fashioned Gal (Record Review)

May 11, 2018

Top 10 Austin Albums of 2017
Top 10 Austin Albums of 2017
Consensus on the best local platters

Dec. 29, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

SXSW Music 2018, David Ramirez

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle