Every so often we come across an artist that ever so slightly breaks the mould. Sony Music’s/Masterworks latest offering Ramin is just one such artist. Having come from the most astounding background in musical theatre, Ramin has previously played high profile roles including Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and as the iconic Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, including the 25th anniversary spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall, and that’s just the start of it. Now making a break for mainstream music success, hitting the airwaves and releasing an album on the 9th of April. Vocally, Ramin is in a league of his own, and now having an album produced by Tom Nichols (Celine Dion, Hayley Westenra) it includes covers of Bryan Adams and Muse songs that effectively demonstrate his vocal ability, as not just limited to theatre but as someone who can take on contemporary classics and make them his own.
We caught up with Ramin and got the lowdown on his break into the music industry, and what we can expect to see from this star on the rise.
MUZU: You’ve a strong history in musical theatre. What has made you swap the theatre for the concert hall?
Ramin: I didn’t have another show to go to. Also it’s so much a swap as it was just another opportunity to further myself and my craft. The idea of playing gigs again was exciting, creating music and become a better musician were a positive things. I’ve done theatre solidly for ten years and it’s been amazing.
MUZU: Did you find the transition from stage to recording studio an easy one?
Ramin: Not really. I love live performances. I love when my favourite bands record live albums, especially acoustically, or as acoustic as they can get. Such as Nirvana Unplugged, one of my favourite albums. Being used to live theatre made it difficult for me to stand in front of a mic with big headphones on. But heck, it’s something you get used to quick when you’re enjoying yourself.
MUZU: You’ve performed at the Royal Variety Show infront of the Queen, if you were to choose one person to be in the audience at one of your gigs, who would it be?
Ramin: Putting aside mushy family selections, at this point, I would love someone like legendary producers T-Bone Burnett or Rick Rubin to be at one of my gigs. Wouldn’t mind working with them on some of my songs. Then again that would shoot the nerves up a notch.
MUZU: Is your musical performance and style influenced by theatre?
Ramin: Not at all. Well, not consciously. I liked doing the shows I’ve done because I like living in those characters’ shoes. I don’t listen to
theatre outside of work. I’d rather be in them. I listen to folk, bluegrass and rock. My influences are The Tragically Hip, Counting
Crows, The Avett Brothers, Johnny Cash, Dan Tyminski … to name but a few.
MUZU:You have wide and varied influences, tell us five albums that were important to you growing up?
Ramin: Up to Here by The Tragically Hip. Their song 38 Years Old haunted me. Gordie’s voice and the atmosphere of the song was chilling. That lead to one of the greastest songs, New Orleans’s in Sinking, which is on the same album. August and Everything After by Counting Crows for me is one of the best albums ever. Lyrically it’s so intimate and the album is put together in such a way that you have to listen to it from start to finish in one sitting. Amazing. Nirvana Unplugged brings back so many amazing memories. I love how they did a Lead Belly cover. O Brother Where Art Thou struck huge chords with me. It made me find folk and bluegrass. Allison Krauss has the most beautiful voice and that soundtrack led me to learn about Dan Tyminski, Ralph Stanely and Emmylou Harris. I’d have to say my 5th album is a more recent one because musically I’m still growing up and that’s I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers. Amazing story telling in the lyrics and also inspired me to start writing more and playing the banjo.
MUZU: You grew up in Canada but came from Iran, have these diverse geographical locations influenced your music at all?
Ramin: Definitely in the songwriting but possibly in the music too. I’m still growing as a musician but there are influences from all the
places I’ve had to call home. Another favourite band of mine was The Tea Party and their album Splendor Solis was another influential
album. Love the slightly middle eastern guitar riffs and hooks he has on some of his songs. Also, Jeff Martin’s voice is one of the best
MUZU: What are your plans for 2012, what can we expect to see from you?
Ramin: Lots of touring and album promotion. I’m looking forward to hitting the road in the UK in May and North America hopefully from July but September for sure. I’m going to use that time to learn what it’s
like to be myself without a character to hide behind which actually ain’t a cliche, it’s true. I’m going to write a lot this year and
perhaps find some time to shoot a couple of films I’m lined up to do. But with my schedule and the productions’ schedule, things are always changing.
MUZU: What do you hope to achieve from your musical career?
Ramin: Well I’m hoping for longevity. If I achieve that then I know I’m constantly growing as a songwriter and musician.
MUZU: Who are you listening to in 2012, any tips for the top?
Ramin: Funny enough I’m still listening to those I grew up listening to. I figure I’d go back to what originally influenced me to go back to
MUZU: Tell us why we should come see a Ramin show?
Ramin: It’s going to be fun, eclectic and intimate. I’ve got an album now which will add to the set list but the show itself has an internal
story line running through it. It’s taken me a long time to put together a show that’s not just a selection of songs to fill time. I wanted an emotional through line and I’m using the Album, Folk and theatre to tell that story. Many of which I’ve written and co-written. So I’m excited to tell that story.