Interview: Hedras Ramos

Dan McAvinchey: Hedras, what led to your interest in the guitar, and what did you do you advance your technical abilities?

Hedras Ramos: I initially began playing drums when I was 6, but at 8 my dad gave me my first guitar, then I switched to guitar. Something interesting is that my dad used to listen to guys like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and other great guitar players and that's how I was hooked into guitar, so the guitar was like more fun to me than drums.

When I was 13, I started studying the instrument very seriously, I got interested on harmony, different techniques, chords, scales, etc., studying about 7 to 8 hours daily and 12 or more on vacations, from books, DVDs and lots of CDs and cool records like Satriani's discography and any thing I could put my hands into. We could say that I am pretty much a self-taught musician.

Dan McAvinchey: Your latest CD, "Atoms And Space", was self-released. Was that your intention from the beginning, or did you try different independent labels first?

Hedras Ramos: I definitely would love to get a record deal, but right now I'm in the process of getting exposed to people, my manager (my dad) and I are working very hard on that, but for the moment we are selling my music in a lot of digital stores on the internet with world wide coverage. We are also selling physical CDs from sites like Guitar 9, CD Baby, from our own website and also at our concerts. I believe the Internet is a great way to sell your music and get your album available to the world, I think musicians know how tough is the music industry today. Now I'm in the process of writing a new album and I hope to find the right team and people for this next one, and a label of course.

Dan McAvinchey: How did you write the songs for "Atoms And Space"?

Hedras Ramos: I composed and arranged everything on this album myself. The process of writing songs for "Atoms And Space" began in 2008, and there are even one or two songs I wrote in 2007 like "Sweet Mercy". My initial approach was to record everything in MIDI mode, like drum programming, synths, etc., and then real instruments played by great musicians replaced everything. I really love composing music; it's the most beautiful part of being a musician.

In general terms I'm very happy with this new album. Something really cool I'd like to mention here is the honor of having great guests like Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson), Andy James from the UK and other great musicians. On drums I have the collaboration of awesome drummer Billy Ashbaugh (Greg Howe, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears). I also had my dad as a co-producer and engineer of the album, and bass player as well.

Dan McAvinchey: Which of the tracks from your album do you enjoy playing the most?

Hedras Ramos: I really love playing all my songs live! It's so good to play live - the improvisations, the jams, the synergy that comes from playing with real musicians, and having a great crowd in front of you is just amazing! But if I had to choose a couple of tracks, I would have to say that I really enjoy playing "Virtual Tangles" and "Stellar Crash" because of the harmonies and level of difficulties. By the way you can watch the videos of those songs here.

I'd like to mention that I'm working on new material, not sure if this is going to be my next album or just an EP, but it's totally something different and new for me. I can't wait to play all this new material live!

Dan McAvinchey: Do you get the chance to play your instrumental music before a live audience?

Hedras Ramos: Yes! We've played with my band at almost all the important venues in Guatemala City; we've also played at many schools, universities, radio and TV stations. I also had the honor to open for bands like Kansas, Switchfoot, White Cross, and Die Toten Hosen. I also was invited to open for Guns N Roses in Guatemala when they were on tour in Latin America for their album "Chinese Democracy".

I recently had the honor of playing in California with my dad and drummer John Mader (drummer for Stu Hamm, Billy Sheehan and Jeff Berlin - BX3). We also have some promotional gigs coming soon in Europe, in November of 2011. Our first gig will be in Poland, then we'll move to other countries like Holland, the UK, Spain, and others to be confirmed, then in December 2011, the US again.

I'm very happy about this, and definitely we're working on some ideas for tours and concerts in other regions of the world. I really love the idea of hitting the road with a cool band and playing my music in front of a crowd! To share this love for music in different places and cultures. For sure, that's what I really want!

Dan McAvinchey: Are you using any social media sites to promote your CDs and music career?

Hedras Ramos: Oh yes! You can watch my videos on YouTube. I'd love to invite you to subscribe to my channel, it will make me happy for sure! For info on concerts, gigs, news, and relevant stuff you can like me at Facebook. I love to chat with my fans, it's a cool tool. There's another site I'd like to invite you to check since is virtually my press kit - Reverbnation.

Dan McAvinchey: You use the Internet in a big way to connect, don't you?

Hedras Ramos: I believe the Internet it's a great window to the world, it's a great tool to communicate with other musicians, and people who can help you with your career; it's definitely great for business! I've been recording guitars for a lot of people from Europe and the USA; it's also great for learning new stuff, I mean studying new music and discovering the world of music.

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Dan McAvinchey: Why do you think some music fans prefer instrumental music over traditional vocal oriented music?

Hedras Ramos: I have the impression that most instrumental music fans are musicians and that's why they value the beauty of it, and some special fans who have developed a trained ear appreciate it too.

I believe most people just want to have fun, drink, sing, dance and party! Which is fun, but instrumental music is more than that, there is something about this art that not everyone can understand or feel, it's like a gift that not everyone has. When I listen to Chopin, Lyadov and all those amazing piano players, I hear magic, I hear something beautiful that words can't express. When I listen to jazz, fusion or progressive metal my ears just listen to different sounds, colors and flavors that feed my soul, heart and mind, it's something beautiful and very strong, I can't explain it!

I have nothing against vocals, I believe the human voice it's something beautiful, and I have to be honest and clear, I believe styles and genres are just like colors from a big painting, and that painting is called music, that's why I love every style of music. Jazz is beautiful, blues is soulful, metal and rock are strong, I even listen to electronic music like this band called the Amplifetes and girls like Lissie or Florrie, but you know, most people want to hear and sing stuff that can understand, stuff about their lives, stuff that they are living right now, and music is not a language that all the people can speak, so I think that's why people want vocals on music.

Dan McAvinchey: Other than guitar-oriented music, what kind of music do you like to listen to?

Hedras Ramos: I've been listening to electronic pop like The Amplifetes from Sweden, also Skrillex which is very popular. I also like stuff from John Mayer, Maroon 5, Jamiroquai, and Corrine Bailey Rae. But honestly that's like kind of a break because I always try to listen to music that gives me new harmonic ideas. So when I'm bored or tired I listen to that, or maybe when I go out with girls.

Dan McAvinchey: Finally, what are some of your future plans?

Hedras Ramos: I just finished recording a new package of instructional videos for a company from London; this package contains videos, backing tracks, full tracks and tabs of some selected tunes of the "Atoms And Space" album. This package is going to be available on I hope people buy it - by the way you can watch these videos on my YouTube channel.

I've been also working with the people of ROCK BAND Games and have two songs already selling for the XBox console. We are discussing the inclusion of other songs to make a nice package that would even include my album "Atoms And Space" for a really low price.

Besides all that I'm working on a new album. I'm in the process of writing all the music. I hope to get an agency soon so we can be touring all year next 2012, and hopefully the years ahead. Playing music live is what I love! And of course we hope to get signed by a significant label!

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Hedras Ramos is a young prodigy and virtuoso guitarist born in Guatemala City in 1992. His all instrumental CD, "Atoms And Space", was first released in May of 2011, and features guest spots from such guitarists as Jennifer Batten and Andy James, among others. Also notable is the fact that Ramos was the second place finisher at the worldwide Guitar Idol competition in London, which took place on the 16th of June, in 2009,

Dan McAvinchey met up with Ramos in cyberspace to conduct this interview in which Ramos discussed his formative years, as well as his current activities.