|Hard Rock Hideout Feature Interview : Sophia Ramos|
Sophia is one of the most power female singers that I have heard in years. She has the right look, attitude and most importantly, the talent that should take
her far in the music business.
In fact, Sophia has won the VH1’s best unsigned artist award, and still hasn’t earned the success she so right fully deserves.
Judging by the great sounds of her last disc, Her Majesty, Sophia’s amazing vocal talent isn’t going to allow her to stay undiscovered for long.
Sophia took some time out of her busy schedule for an Interview at the Hard Rock Hideout!
Rob Rockitt: Hi Sophia, How are you doing today?
Sophia Ramos: I am pretty swamped with work. I have been finishing up a bunch of interviews. Princess Tai Poe has been keeping me pretty busy.
Rob Rockitt: I would like to expose you and your music to the readers at the Hard Rock Hideout. I think your music is a great fit for that 70’s and 80’s Hard Rock sound that I keep my readers informed about.
Sophia Ramos: I take it as a compliment that people who like 80’s hard rock would even dig what I do. I think my stuff is more in line with 70’s hard rock. The tone of it is a lot warmer. I grew up on all that stuff, like Van Halen and the great music from the 80’s but my main influences came from Aerosmith, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
Rob Rockitt: I can hear some Janis Joplin style in your music.
Sophia Ramos: Most definitely. I think if you are a chick in Rock and Roll, and you want to perform with the big boys, Janis Joplin is your bible, or your starting point as a woman. To really see how a woman can get all blood guts and glory in her music. You have to give kudos to Janis.
Rob Rockitt: At what age did you start singing and recording music?
Sophia Ramos: I have been singing all my life. I discovered I could sing when I was 8 years old. I used to sing in church. I left home at 16 and
started doing gigs, and I first recorded when I was 17. It has been a lot of
Rob Rockitt: What drew you to Rock and Roll Music?
Sophia Ramos: I am just naturally rebellious and irreverent. Rock and Roll is the soundtrack for that type of personality. For someone who can see the hilarity in humanity and the sarcasm, but also the beauty and the rage. When you hear that guitar riff and the band is just thumping, and and you throw your hands in the air, and it just grabs your soul. That is what rock music has always done to me.
Rob Rockitt: I have been listening to your CD, Her Majesty, and have been enjoying it quite a bit. This CD rocks hard! I especially like the guitar riffs on Black Madonna and Esperanza. I think people will be blown away by the great tunes on your CD!
Sophia Ramos: I have been very lucky that I have had very positive reviews for Her Majesty. That powerful guitar riff was written by my producer and co-writer Billy White, who also had a stint in Don Dokken’s solo band.
Rob Rockitt: What kind of music are you listening to today?
Sophia Ramos: I listen to a lot of different stuff. Surprisingly, even though my music is hard rock, I like anything that is good. There haven’t really been a whole lot of new singers that made me go “Holy Shit”. I am listening to this R&B chick, Amy Winehouse, I love the quality of her voice. I am listening to this black rock band called The Family Stand, that is a mix between Bad Brains and Prince and Sly and the Family Stone. They are really great. There is this chick that has this incredible voice, that is a Country Western singer, Brandi Carlile that I have also been listening to.
Rob Rockitt: You were on tour with a bunch of rock bands on the 1996 Lalapalooza Tour. What was that experience like?
Sophia Ramos: My first instinct was I was going to have a sexual liberating experience but that didn’t happen. Rock stars are really shy, and not really as outrageous as they appear. I met all the guys from Soundgarden. I made friends with Joey Ramone and the Ramones. I made friends with Jason Newsted from Metallica, and the guys from Rancid and the Screaming Trees. I met Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. My favorite was meeting Rage Against the Machine. I have never seen that kind of audience response, in all the years I have gone to see concerts. I have never seen such a hypnotic response by a crowd. That was amazing!
Rob Rockitt: You recorded some songs with Jason Newsted on one of his projects.
Sophia Ramos: I love him. He is an incredible human being, a great musician and is very professional. When we met on the Lalapalooza tour and became friends. He invited me to jam in his studio in San Francisco. I went up there and we jammed and started writing on new stuff and co-existing stuff that he put down but didnt have any vocals on. He had some lyric ideas and I had some lyric ideas. We started recording some stuff, and next thing you know it became a 2 year project. We recorded about 10 – 12 songs. We had some interest from Elektra records. That all fizzled out because Jason had to get back on the road with Metallica. We are still friends. I hope one day he will still release it.
Rob Rockitt: Your band Sophia’s Toy was once signed to Sony’s Epic Records. What happened there?
Sophia Ramos: I almost don’t want to tell this story, because I don’t want to show myself in a negative image, that I don’t feel part of anymore. I don’t(Laughs) I got signed and it was a big deal, and all this hype. I did this really kick ass record. Before the record could come out, my A & R guy took me to breakfast and said they were not releasing the record. The marketing people felt that it was be too costly to market my record because I am a woman of color. We don’t think kids in Iowa will get who you are. I had to sit with that for a few years and it that was kind of devastating to me. I do realize that experience taught me a lot about the issues in this country that we still need to deal with. Nobody wants to talk about them. People get uncomfortable. I really do understand. I don’t feel like I subscribe to any of that. I do my music. I don’t care what my color is. The guys in my band don’t care what I look like. The audience doesn’t care what I look like. They care about the musical content. In the music industry in America and probably the world, your looks are what really defines you and not what you are saying or your content. That is kind of sad.
Rob Rockitt: Were you able to reuse any of that material that you recorded with Sony on Her Majesty?
Sophia Ramos: No, Her Majesty is all new material that I wrote with Billy White. I do have re-recording rights for the disc I did with Sony. You might really dig that. It was pretty heavy stuff mixed with some fusion.
Rob Rockitt: Do you have any intentions of re-recording that disc some day?
Sophia Ramos: No, but I have been in contact with Beau Hill who was the producer within the last month. We might have to see about releasing that material.
Rob Rockitt: What are some of your favorite songs off of Her Majesty?
Sophia Ramos: Oh Man, I really dig Kill Your Pain. It has one of the funkiest drum grooves, and the bridge is so rockin’. And then I love Torn Down. It such arena rock and roll. Black Madonna, because of the story that it tells. I like the last tune (Stay Here With You) because it is a very personal kind of song. I really put my heart into it when I was singing it.
Rob Rockitt: What is a typical day for you now?
Sophia Ramos: I am currently in Arizona doing this Love Janis show. It is a theater production of the life of Janis Joplin. It was all written by Janis Joplin by her and letters that she has written. I have one show left and will be going home to New York soon.
Rob Rockitt: What are you currently working on?
Sophia Ramos: I wanted to make another rocking album. I have gotten together with Billy White and recorded the album in Austin, TX. We wrote a bunch of songs together. It is a bit of departure from Her Majesty. There are some rocking heavy guitar based songs. We kind of went a little bit in another place, because we were just having fun. It was laid back, and we didn’t have the hectic New York City vibe that we usually have when we record. I noticed when I was writing and recording that there was a theme and the songs were tying together. The songs are about what was happening politically now in the world, what it is like to live in the modern age with the Internet, and Internet dating, and what it is like to live in a world that is not homogeneous to live in a society with all these different cultures. The second album is called Revelator. I don’t want to give away too much, but I hope you dig it.
Rob Rockitt: When do you expect Revelator to be released?
Sophia Ramos: It is 95% complete. I go back to New York next week to do some tweaking and remixing and master it. I don’t have the artwork and stuff ready. I am working with a great rock and roll artist, Justin Hampton We are trying to create something very unique for the record’s visuals. I am hoping by September that we can release it.
Rob Rockitt: On your new record, do you have any special guests?
Sophia Ramos: Me and Billy White recorded the tunes in Austin, and used some local Austin guys. My drummer wasn’t available. He is drumming on the new Chris Cornell record. We wanted to go kind of low-fi on this record. We wanted to get away from that bombastic sound. It is still hard driving rock and roll. There is more of an organic feel on this record. There is a vibe to this record that is really great. I do have a special guest, Kate Russo, she is the baddest rock and roll violin player out there. She kicks ass.
Rob Rockitt: Do you have plans to tour for Revelator?
Sophia Ramos: (Laughs) If I make any money! If there is a budget for it, for sure. I will let you know!
Rob Rockitt: Sophia, Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to me today!
Sophia Ramos: Thank you for supporting me and my music!