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.

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SXSW Music 2018, David Ramirez

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