Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, photographer, videographer and musician, Andreas Ramirez has had a burning passion for the arts. Touring with both Sublime with Rome and Dirty Heads, capturing each through his lens, exposed him to a vast new world, while providing opportunities for each of his outlets. Under his San Andreas stage name, Ramirez’s music is jam packed with catchy melodies that’ll have you singing along during the first listen. Inspired by the music of Mo-Town and Roots Reggae, influenced by the attitudes of Rage Against the Machine and NWA, he just dropped his debut single “Emergency,” embedded below.
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Sean Ritchie: Starting off with your home of the Bay Area in California. What makes it special and home to you?
Andreas Ramirez: Where I’m from in the Bay Area is a town called Fremont off the east bay. It’s an interesting place. It’s right outside of Silicon Valley and tech-boom industry. But, when I was born and raised there, it wasn’t really as popular. It wasn’t a bunch of the tech industries blowing up. The cool thing about it is that it’s really tight niche. Who you hang out with are people that you’ll spend the rest of your lives with. The friends that I grew up with still are continually close to me. I feel like a lot of that has to do with the culture of being from the Bay Area. You just surrounded yourself with everybody that was near you. You’d then gain really tight relationships with them.
That kind of inspired me to go about doing a lot of artistic things with my life. It was a lot about the people I surrounded myself with. Some of the interesting parts about living there was that we were one of the only places in the Bay Area that didn’t have a downtown. We didn’t really have an area to go out bar hopping, unless we left the city and went to San Jose, Oakland or San Francisco. It was kind of cool having an environment to go to a lot of house parties, or jamming out with your friends, instead of going out to different clubs or bars to seek entertainment.
SR: Where would you send a first-time visitor around that area?
AR: There’s this amazing Indian food spot called Shalimar Restaurant. It’s a little hole in the wall, but it’s delicious, delicious food. Aside from that, I would say Fremont is really close to a train station. From there, you can hop to Oakland and San Francisco. I hear that it’s going all the way down to San Jose now too. So, it’s kind of a hub to reach all of the different spots of the Bay Area.
SR: It’s great when cities have proper public transportation. Turning it on you a bit more, when did you first pick up a camera? You just talked about how the area you grew up in bred creativity, but was it something that you always did or had an interest for? How did it evolve over time?
AR: I started, interestingly enough, shooting with an iPhone. I started getting a cellphone camera when they started getting really good. I really got inspired by some of the photos that I took. I wanted to take it to the next level. I figured that the only way to do it was to jump head first into the water. So, I saved up a bunch of money, bought myself nice camera gear and started interning for a radio station called LIVE 105. It’s a radio station in the Bay Area — great spot, great radio station.
They’re the only alternative rock station in the Bay Area that I’m aware of. I started interning for this guy Dennis, who I’m still buddies with, and he started showing me some of the ropes. He also had a camera that he would give me to shoot with, but not really on a professional level. He would do it more for like radio station’s social media. He offered me a lot of time on the weekends or at whatever venue the station would have a concert. He would tell me, “Hey, would you like to go out and shoot the photos for social media and press?” I was always like, “Of course!”
I was doing this all for free, just trying to get sharp and get my feel tight. As I was doing it, I fell in love with it. It became something that I wanted to be the best at it. I feel that really pushed my skills to higher and higher levels. I saw my career advancing faster than I could keep up with it. So, now it’s just a race of trying to perfect the art.
SR: That’s really cool to hear. I wanted to touch on your debut “Emergency” single. Talk about your thought process dropping your first track. What did you set out to achieve with the single? Describe your excitement for it to be released and share it with the world.
AR: Oh man, I’m so excited! There’s just a part of me that has had a passion for music my whole life. It was really what I started doing before photography and videography. I would just play guitar, write music with the buddies and jam out. Its just always been something that I feel like I had to say. Being a creative person, I have a lot to say and I can do that. I can express myself through my photos, through my videos, through my music or through the designs that I create for my clothing — album artworks. I just feel like I need to express myself as much as possible, and be as vocal as possible. My music has always been one of the strongest points of that. I want to inspire the youth to make them want to do their thing and be just as artistic. Or, to have them feel like nothings in the way to hold them back. That whole feeling brings so much excitement. It keeps me up at night.
SR: I have the same feeling with SCP. I’ve been doing it for five-plus years now, and it’s sometimes hard to go to bed, because I just want to keep working.
AR: Heck yeah man, that’s amazing! Happy to be a part of it, brother.
SR: Thank you, really appreciate that! Now, switching into your images, the first two you sent over were of a pink house with a nice lit up sky, and a forest with the bare trees. Talk about your thoughts behind these pictures.
AR: Those two landscape photographs are actually from the same location. It’s a recording studio in El Paso, Texas called Sonic Ranch. The photos were shot during the recording of Sublime with Rome’s “Yours Truly” album. I shot these photos to kind of display the amount of creativity that goes into an album, aside from just the thought process of writing and recording music. Surrounding yourself with beautiful elements, in an environment that really inspires you, can really transcend the music you come up with. I feel like Sonic Ranch does a really great job of creating your own escape.
SR: That sounds like a really interesting place to record music.
AR: Yeah! If you zoom in real close above the door of the pink house, I believe it says, “It’s a new dawn.” It’s a quote written in chalk. It’s just there to inspire everybody that comes by. It keeps you working and your mind going.
SR: I see. Then, the next two images you have are from Red Rocks [Amphitheater]. The one behind the mic is absolutely legit dude. Talk about that location and being able to shoot there. Describe that concert experience. I’m guessing that was at a Sublime with Rome concert?
AR: Those were actually from Dirty Heads’ past tour. The first shot with the microphone is a really, really inspiring photo to me. It’s kind of like almost looking at the future. That’s the way I look at it. I look at the microphone and I see the emptiness that will be the crowd. I see the possibilities, and you [could be] the person holding the microphone. It’s one of the things that makes me fall in love with the photo.
Red Rocks is one of the most gorgeous venues. Everyone is familiar with its beauty. What a lot of people don’t [experience] as an artist, is typically you look out into the audience and it’s very flat, like a general-admission crowd. The amphitheater set up at Red Rocks makes the crowd feel right on top of your face, all the way up to the top. It’s always been inspiring to me every time I go there.
SR: I’ve never been, but I’ve heard the acoustics are insane. That’s one of my top concert venues I’ve got to hit. Moving on to the next two, we have the shot of Eric Wilson drinking out of the Patron bottle, and the close-up of his guitar next to the keyboard setup. Talk about being able to shoot, and have access to, someone as prevalent in music as him.
AR: Eric Wilson is amazing. He’s a really cool guy. Growing up Sublime was one of my favorite bands, if not the favorite. Being able to shoot these guys just didn’t seem real. They were my idols growing up. He’s such an interesting character. We were in Boston the other day and he’s setting up a backstage jam room just so the guys can play. If you know Eric, he loves to jam. It just shows that you’ll get results if you put a lot into it. It’s definitely shown with him being the star that he is.
Touring with the guys, they may not realize it, but some of the things they say will send ripples through people’s lives, which is really important. For instance, a couple years back, I was talking to Eric as we were playing guitar, and he turns to me saying, “You have a really good voice. You can’t let that go to waste.” That pushed me to want to release music and move forward in that side of things.
Oh, and the shot with the Patron! That is Eric to chug a bottle of Patron, but the funny thing is he wanted a big glass of water for his side stage, and we couldn’t find a big enough cup, so we filled the bottle up.
SR: That’s great! It’s so cool to see someone so well known not think anything of his fame. He’s just one of the guys. That’s really, really cool to hear.
AR: Straight up! I think that’s actually one of the things that made Sublime so liked. They were very relatable to everyone. Everybody did the house parties. They all jammed. They made you feel like you were a part of it. They weren’t trying to put themselves on a pedestal. That is who the guys are.
SR: The next three images you have are of a Dirty Heads concert, and two of Jared Watson. Talk about being able to work so close with a band as prominent as them. A while back I interviewed Matt Ochoa, and again I was just taken aback at how down to earth they are – just welcoming.
AR: The guys are super funny. They are just five high-spirited, energized guys. They have so much character. As a photographer and videographer, it’s really easy to work with them, because their personalities are so colorful. It’s almost like I pick a color and they paint the picture. I’ll just switch the colors and get a little taste of each one. Their characters have so much to do with who they are.
The one with Jared standing out in the field next to their percussion player Jon-Jon [Olazabal] with the sunset, was one of the highlights of the tour. I want to say we were either in Delaware or North Carolina. We were just in the middle of nowhere in this field with nothing. But, when life gives you lemons you make lemonade. That’s kind of the attitude the guys have. We pulled out the golf equipment, frisbees, footballs, soccer balls and golf carts. We just had a whole activity day. It felt like summer camp. We were hitting golf balls and catching footballs at the same time. It was a chance to have some of the other bands on tour really get to know each other. We had our instruments out, so the bands were jamming too. Had the barbecue going too. Those guys are a really good time. It really reflects in their shows and music.
SR: That’s cool that photo really captures part of what happens off the stage. The last two photos you sent over were there industrial shot and the close-up of the foot. Want to just talk a little about those two?
AR: The industrial shot is a really cool venue. It’s a place called Bethlehem. That place is the opposite of most venues. That steel plant was one of the main suppliers of work for the community. Now that it’s shut down, it’s become a place to fill their hearts with art. That’s one of the things I love about it.
If we continue to the shot with the foot, that was also shot at Sonic Ranch. I wanted to use it for the importance of using brands in shots. This one has Vans, Disney and Stance Socks incorporated in it. As a photographer, it’s really important to capitalize on branding and social media. One of the easiest ways to do that is by building relationships with certain brands through your creative art.
SR: Lastly, to wrap this up focusing on a broader level, talk about how special it is to travel the world promoting your photography while creating music at the same time.
AR: It is a blessing. It really is. Traveling the world has been amazing, because it lets you see all the beautiful parts of the world. You really get an idea for which places you want to go back to. It also reflects in my art and passions. It allows me to never get bored of a photograph. I’ll never be at the same beach more than a couple of times. Musically, it allows me to go out and perform at different locations that I’d never be able to do on my own financial income. On my days off, I’ll regularly go play open mics to gain more fans. It’s awesome, and something I want to use to inspire a younger generation.