Ramirez explores the lines between love and delusion
“Back to Earth” channels the blues spirit with stratocaster magic. | Chak Hee Lo/THE CHIMES
Junior music major Angel Ramirez sat with his friends in a recording studio working away at an EP when they decided to add one of Ramirez’s old songs to the album. A few roadblocks jumped up when they realized that the style of the song did not quite fit with the rest of the album. An air of frustration grew throughout the studio, caused by this one song they spent all day trying to get right. The day neared its end when Ramirez started messing around on his Fender Mexican Stratocaster. He played a random guitar lick, causing a breakthrough for the group. That lick quickly became the intro for “Back to Earth,” a single that Ramirez released on Spotify on Jan. 7, 2017.
The new single takes cues from musical experts like Jon Foreman, Matt Thiessen and John Mayer among others. Much of Mayer’s style can be heard in “Back to Earth,” and Ramirez cites him as his main influence. These artists provided Ramirez with direction and vision, but the roots of his music are found in the blues genre. Legends such as B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa and Eric Clapton serve as inspiration for Ramirez both in terms of guitar shredding prowess and songwriting.
“Blues is really simple, but it’s so soulful and it resonates so much with me,” Ramirez said. “It’s taught me how to pour what I’m feeling into music, whether it be a note, or lyrics, or whatever.”
However, the bluesy vibes in “Back to Earth” were not always so present. Ramirez has had the song rattling around in the back of his head for almost four years. It started off as a much faster paced rock song before he slowed the tempo to resemble a calmer contemporary tune. The lyrics also underwent massive change throughout the years. The only thing Ramirez kept was the chorus.
“Everything lyrically was just horrible,” Ramirez said. “I hated everything that I was writing.”
An idea struck Ramirez while discussing breakups with his friends while they were stuck in traffic on the freeway. He became fascinated by the tendency for young couples to view their relationship through “rose-colored glasses” despite an unhealthy or destructive relationship. He decided to use that idea as the subject for his song by showing a person coming from the clouds back down to earth and seeing things as they really are.
The song represents a culmination of years of songwriting and practice for Ramirez. He feels God’s calling on his life to reach people through his music. However, that sometimes proves a struggle for Ramirez because of his high standards. In the past, he has taken down his older music from Spotify because it did not meet his standards. He pours his heart into his music, so he wants to make sure that it will have positive reviews.
“It was exciting but scary. I’ve been a songwriter for a long time and this song was more of a psychological breakthrough for me. I’m always really scared to release something because I invest so much of my heart into it that if people don’t like it, it’s a huge blow to me,” Ramirez said. “It’s how I identify myself because God has given me this and [said] this is who you’re going to be, how you’re going to reach out to people.”