erasing clouds

100 Musicians Answer the Same 10 Questions

Part Seventy-Six: Neal Ramirez of The Snow Fairies

instigated by dave heaton

Gone, but never forgotten...the energetic, melody-minded Philadelphia pop powerhouse the Snow Fairies might have broken up, but they've left behind plenty of fantastic music for us to enjoy. The two Snow Fairies albums -- Feel You Up (Red Square) and Get Married (Total Gaylord/Chocolate Hearts) have now been joined by a third. It's vinyl-only, limited-edition, self-released, just as fantastic as the others, and titled Voila!. Neal Ramirez played guitar/bass with the band. Check out the Snow Fairies' website and MySpace.


What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?

I am excited to have our own 12" album. The circumstances of the record are a little strange, so let me get into it. The Snow Fairies broke up in late 2005. Practices weren't fun. We couldn't agree on what shows to play. Everyone was super busy in their personal lives. The band was suffering. The world was bleak. Then we broke up. But we had an album's worth of songs that we didn't want to discard, so we decided to self-release our last album. It's called Voila! and we made 200 of them. Even though so few people will ever get to hear it, I think it's the best thing we've ever done. I'm also excited to see what all the Snow Fairies end up doing now that we're no longer a band.

What aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?

Musical instrument shops. I try to never go to them because the people are horrible and all the stuff is complete junk.

What are you up to right now, music-wise? (Current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc).

I'm playing with a new band but it's too early to give any details. I would like to be in a band that makes amazing music.

What's the most unusual place you've ever played a show or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

The most unusual shows were outside. We played a farm in southern Jersey and I took most of my clothes off. Then there was the time I played a barn in Cranberry, Pennsylvania with the Skywriters (the band that preceded the Snow Fairies). Kisswhistle set it up in the summer of '99. It was the first date of our first tour, and everything was so fresh and new. The way the wind was blowing that day really made me happy to be alive.

The weirdest recording was when The Snow Fairies recorded Voila! with Bill Moriarty. It was in a big old building called Art & Industry on American Avenue in Philadelphia. It was freezing and I got really depressed because I hate the cold. When we were finished, I rode my bicycle back to my home late at night and was chased by a gang of rabid dogs. It was really scary.

In what ways does the place where you live (or places where you have lived), affect the music you create, or your taste in music?

Philly is a tough city. Philadelphians are often considered cold and harsh, but they have a sweetness in them. I think that's why the Snow Fairies made tough music. People always thought we were so innocent and shy, but we fucked shit up.

As far as my personal tastes, I grew up in the suburbs of Philly. Perhaps this led me to enjoy music with themes of boredom, alienation and yearning. I remember when my mom took me to the mall to buy the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" cassingle. I really liked grunge.

When was the last time you wrote a song? What can you tell us about it?

The last song I wrote was called "Love Park." I wrote it after a fight with my girlfriend, so it's pretty sappy. But it's got a good beat and the lyrics go: "What would you do if your lover fled / Leaving only foolish thoughts in your head? / If you ever break a heart / Don't do it in Love Park."

As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people...and why do you think that is?

Less. I don't find much music because my Internet connection isn't working and I don't have time to go to record stores like I used to. What's more, most musicians that tour and come to Philly don't appeal to me. They are too rock or too aggro for me. But even more than that, they're usually just bad.

Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener? (Old or new music? Music like yours or different from yours?)

It's not a style, but I find myself becoming obsessed with vinyl records. I think vinyl sounds better than CDs and mp3s. You can't take vinyl music with you on the train, so there is something special about listening to music at home or a friend's house. I have a mental list of things I want to get on record someday. At the top of the list is "The Demonstration Tapes" by Dolly Mixture. If someone wants to trade a copy of that for the Snow Fairies LP, you should get a hold of me.

Name a musician or band, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What's one of your all-time favorite recordings by this musician/band?

I am particularly fond of "Faith"-era George Michael. I remember when he was all over MTV and my brother got the album. I think that music stands up to the test of time.

What's the saddest song you've ever heard?

"Basements" by Pipas.

To check out the rest of the Q&As, click here.

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