Cefe Flynn Mastering

Interview with

RAMY

Artist Name: RAMY
Nationality: Chinese-Canadian
Release title: Can I Write You a Song?
Release Genre: Bedroom Pop, Electronic, Pop

If you enjoyed these thoughts by RAMY and would like to find out more about their work, visit their official channels below.

Because my relationship with singing is a long one, but also a very tumultuous one, it’s the step I dread most. At the same time, it’s also always the part that matters the most to me. It’s where I crystallise the song into something other people can understand. It’s something like: I wrote this about how I felt; and now I want to make sure it’s communicated to you exactly in the way I want you to feel when you hear it. Which is impossible, and very greedy. But I try to get as close as I can!

Ramy Zhang - Album Cover

Listen

RAMY music on Spotify. Enjoy while reading the interview.

About the Artist

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started singing when I was 11, in choir, then in local singing competitions, then in national and international competitions. Once things started to become overwhelming and my progress stagnated, I freaked out, stopped singing entirely for a year or two, and then began learning how to produce my own music instead during a gap year between highschool and university. It’s been 3 years since then! 

In terms of influences, I think there’s a part of me that will never stop being amazed by Beyoncé. She’s my hero. I’m also really inspired by a lot of K-pop writers and producers. I think their work challenges pop in ways that really inform how I think about textures and form when I make music. 

I like being onstage, and I like telling people how I feel without actually telling them how I feel, and I like stepping into different emotions and experiences. Writing songs is kind of like creating a soundtrack for a moment, whether it’s one from your memory or one from your imagination. That’s something I’ll never really get tired of, the escapism of it.

Could you describe what part of the creative process is particularly dear to you?

I always feel like I’m an over dramatic Shakespearan character in her death throes whenever I record vocals. It’s kind of crazy! 

Because my relationship with singing is a long one, but also a very tumultuous one, it’s the step I dread most. At the same time, it’s also always the part that matters the most to me. It’s where I crystallise the song into something other people can understand. It’s something like: I wrote this about how I felt; and now I want to make sure it’s communicated to you exactly in the way I want you to feel when you hear it. Which is impossible, and very greedy. But I try to get as close as I can!

The voice is such an unstable, versatile instrument; one note could be sung a billion different ways. It’s hard to do decision making at that level, especially when you’re in some neurotic pursuit of perfection that the skill level you’re currently at can’t ever hope to physically achieve. I try to take breaks when I’m recording. I love it all the same. 🙂

About the Single

Tell us about your new single “Can I Write You a Song?”. Is there a story behind it? What were the influences or inspirations to write it?

It’s funny, because whenever I showed the demo to friends, they always asked me if it was a love song. I mean, it is, but not really, not in the sense that it’s for my significant other—I actually wrote it for myself, at the time. 

I tend to be a really solitary person by nature, and I internalise a lot of things without realising that there’s people who love me who would love to hear what I have to say. I wrote this song during a time when I really needed comfort, when I needed to reassure myself that I could be there for myself. That I could bring myself the warmth I needed, that I could tell myself that I did do my best, that I tried really hard, that things would all turn out to be okay. Honestly, it’s one of the cheesiest things I’ve written, but I feel quite happy with it.

Could you describe your creative process behind the single? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into a finished song?

I always start with lyrics. I’m continuously writing random ideas in my notes app as I go about my life. I think this song was pieced together from 3-5 different notes written over the course of a few months during the pandemic. 

After finishing lyrics, I think of a melody, or of a musical palette that I think would match well with the feeling I had when I wrote it. I was listening to this gorgeous adaptation of “Pure Imagination” sung by 王若琳 (Joanna Wang) all the time during that month, and so I really wanted to bring in those fairytale-like orchestral details, and structure the song so it sounded like a long sigh being released. 

Finally, I recorded some vocals, absolutely hated them, and had a draft that sat in my projects folder for another few months (or year…) until I was done battling with myself over it. I fished it back out after that, and finished it in one breath. Thank God I did, otherwise I think it never would have seen the light of day!

What’s your view of lyrics with “messages”? Is there a main message you want to be delivered within the single?

Any kind of music written with intention and care makes for great music, in my opinion. It’s a gift to listen to a mere three or four-minute piece and realise that the artists behind it put their all into creating this 180-second story for you to hear. 

As for me, I wanted this song to feel like a nice hug, or a summer breeze coming in through an open window, or a loved one pouring a hot cup of tea for you. The lyrics are filled with more florid imagery than anything really concrete, but I hope that those warm images come to the listener when they need them the most, and that hopefully, it reassures them the same way they did for me.

Releasing music is such a mammoth effort. What are the biggest challenges? What things did you learn in the process?

I think a part of the difficulty with this project was that I wanted to really surpass my previous efforts, both on a technical level and an artistic level (at least by my own personal metrics). I realise now that this is kind of a dangerous goal to have when you start a musical project. 

I spent about 3 months in between school thinking and trying out different variations on that first beat drop until I got to an idea that felt satisfying enough. I remember reaching out to someone for help for the very first time, because I was just so frustrated about not getting it right. I only finalised the execution of the drop several weeks ago after a long break away from the song! (Breaks are really good, by the way. We should all take more breaks.) 

Prior to this, because of my rudimentary skill in music production, my process mostly involved free-form trial and error until I stumbled across something I found interesting. This time, since I had a specific vision in mind for the song, it was a lot more difficult to satisfy myself. Of course, the whole thing is still far from my ideals, whether that’s in the sound design, the mix, or the composition, but I definitely think it’s a step up from my previous work.

What's next?

What’s next for you?

More music! My goal is to release at least one work a year, and I have several songs ready to be massaged out. One of my goals for this next work is to get out of my comfort zone and collaborate with more musicians, so I’m really looking forward to starting on that! 🙂

Where can we check for upcoming gigs? Links?

I’m playing a Toronto show with my band, the DMC, at the Drake Underground in January 2023! Stay tuned to our Instagram @deezedmancollective to be updated on logistic details.