Lydia Ramsey, a native Washingtonian and fixture around the Seattle music scene is releasing her debut album this weekend! “Bandita” proves just what you can do in a year if you put your mind to it. The haunting vocals and melodies make this album a must own record. She took some time out of her schedule to talk about the CD, creativity, processes and to even help out young artist looking to get booked in Seattle clubs. Ramsey is throwing a big album release shindig this Saturday, February 25th at the Sunset Tavern! Get tickets here. Check out our interview and some of her music below.
Earle Dutton: What made you decide to go ahead and release an album as opposed to just singles?
Lydia Ramsey: Well I’ve been writing songs for a while now, without ever having a proper record to release. This newer body of work felt really special to me because it tapped into this new side of expression I was exploring that felt more free and more powerful. “Bandita” represents this idea of grabbing life by the horns and doing exactly what you want with the short time you’ve been given.
ED: What was your favorite part of the process? Why?
LR: My favorite part was watching and listening as these songs unfolded and took on a feel of their own. They were all written originally for just guitar and voice, so fleshing out the arrangements to add electric guitar, drums, bass, keys, trumpet was really exciting. I loved having so many friends play on the record too, each bringing such a quality and feel to their parts and a great extension of the music that I never could have reached on my own.
ED: How long did it take you to put it all together?
LR: I did a Kickstarter for the project last December (2015), so really about one year. I was very ambitious with my timeline at first, imagining I could wrap things up in 3-4 months, ha! There are certainly different ways to make a record and spend time in the studio, my approach was to get in there when I could find the time, in between work and playing in my other band, so things were stretched out a bit more. I kept walking this line of trying to stay motivated and focused, while allowing things to progress naturally without stressing out and forcing things. It was a fine amount of time in the end. But I sure am happy to have things coming to completion here.
ED: What is your favorite song to perform live right now?
LR: I’ve been loving “Weak in the Knees”, it’s this bluesy number that’s a real departure from my early singer-songwriter tunes, and it’s been feeling really good with the band.
ED: How would you describe your sound?
LR: I’d say folk/Americana/country/rock/love songs. Is that a genre?
ED: Who were your musical influences growing up?
LR: Early on our family had a lot of jazz and classical happening in the house, Bach, Debussy, and Bill Evans. I still feel like the harmonies, counter-melodies, the pace and emotion that comes across in jazz and classical have planted some deep roots in my musical heart. Everything I create is touched by them in some way. Then there were the folk and rock stuff like Gillian Welch, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Elliott Smith, and Tallest Man on Earth, to name a few.
ED: Who would you like to collaborate with?
LR: Gosh, honestly I’d love to do a Ramsey Family album, haha. We all play something and it just really needs to be done! My brothers have a band based out of Brooklyn called Legs, and my parents send home recordings they’ve done almost every week, many are accordion and piano tango duets.
ED: How do you stay creative?
LR: Well it can be super tough, especially with all the damn distractions from our phones and the craziness in the world right now. I try to be aware of what puts me in a creative space, and spend as much time nurturing my spirit with those activities, like hiking, swimming, being away from screens, exploring other great music, visually striking art, drinking wine, and just staring at the stars. I also like keeping my instruments out of their cases, ready to grab when even a flicker of a creative sentiment strikes.
ED: Since you are also a booking agent, do you have any hints for musical talents trying to get bookings?
LR: We’re solicited by a lot of artists who have written a song or two which might sound fine, but the rest of their presentation is just lacking. Their website is broken, all their pictures are blurry, their videos are shaky, they’ve got a quote on their website from just someone named “Bill.” You’ve really gotta put the work into the whole presentation or it’s hard to get your foot in the door. If you appear lazy about some aspects of your craft, then it’s hard for the industry to put trust in building a relationship with you. Also, if you’re making some art, make it because it’s your greatest passion and because you believe in the message.
ED: Do you have a message for young musicians?
LR: Listen to your heart. Shut out the haters, they’re always going to hate on something. Make your music your very own, find your own voice and sing loud. Music is a very powerful expression and can inspire, heal, and open you up throughout your entire life.
If you like our interview with Lydia Ramsey and her music get yourself down to her party this Saturday! Get tickets here.