RamonPang takes listeners on a journey through glimmering, experimental soundscapes in his latest single “Thin Sand”. We spoke to the up-and-coming producer about his new song and his unique approach to making music.
Tell me about yourself. What should our readers know about you?
My name is Ramon and I live in Los Angeles. I started dabbling with producing electronic music in 2017, making Flume-esque beats while I was president of the DJ club at University of California, Riverside. Moved back to Los Angeles in 2018 and started playing small shows, mainly as a DJ with leftfield taste. I get a kick out of dropping a big RL Grime trap banger into an Aphex Twin deep cut into a Playboi Carti banger into one of my own IDM-adjacent trap beats. It’s all music that I love. I’m also a sucker for the r/trap forum.
Describe your music in a sentence.
I’m on a mission to bring the leftfield sounds of electronica, IDM, ambient music, etc. to the youthful and energetic club and trap audiences.
What was the process of making “Thin Sand” like?
It came together in two parts. The first half with the harps and the house drums came together in an hour. Me and my friends at Soul Food Music Collective have been holding these internal beat challenges in quarantine called Producer Hour sessions. The synopsis is that you start a track, work on it for an hour and present what you made to the group. I smashed a rough cut together, presented it and felt it was something special. Like dancing at a beach-side cafe in Ibiza, but with a sentimental lens. Felt perfect for quarantine.
After sitting on it for a couple months, I started getting more into granular synthesis after attending a sound design class by bass producer Little Snake. I threw one of the pad samples of the track into a Pandora’s box of an instrument rack I developed and it spat out the mad modular-sounding percussion and feedback you get at the second half.
How do you approach creating a song?
The main way that I know I’ve “got it” in a song is if I’m playing the loop for hours and hours and don’t get tired of it. Those always turn out to be the fan favorites; the ones that have a loop that can go on forever without me getting bored of it. Everything about my approach is trying to find that perfect loop. Whether it’s manipulating and reversing loops I found on sites Splice, Looperman or freesound.org. Or creating my own long recordings with complex Ableton instrument racks using probability and other technical terms I barely understand. It all comes down to the perfect loop—then something clicks in my brain and I can hear the whole song in my head.
Your music has received support from Floating Points, Four Tet, and Baauer—all within the last six months. How does this affect you as an artist and a creator? Is the support intimidating or inspiring?
It’s overwhelming in the best possible way. They’re my heroes and inspirations. I always thought they were in a whole other universe of production compared to me—I would listen to tracks like Baauer’s “GoGo” or Four Tet’s “Sing” in college and think “I could never possibly make something like this”. On top of that, they’re all incredibly good DJs, pulling out tracks that may be leftfield but are also immediately powerful in a club.
I don’t really make music to impress anyone, not A&Rs, not even my idols; it’s all for my own enjoyment. To know that I can come up with the strangest ideas in isolation and that people with such high calibers of taste can latch onto it; that just means so much to me. Most importantly, it means what I’m doing is working. I don’t need to try to impress anyone anymore, not even my idols—I just have to please myself.
What is your overall creative vision for your project?
Like I said, I’m trying to bring leftfield music that I’m listening to and enjoying at the time into the clubs. But the way that I approach that vision is always evolving. It’s so funny, back in 2018, I was trying to make tracks that were meant for at-home listening. I couldn’t see anyone DJing those tracks honestly other than me. But now in quarantine, there’s nothing more I want to do than hear bangers on a loud club system. And my new music reflects that —I’ve been thinking in terms of drops and creating surprise and intrigue in someone who would be dancing. Or creating intros and outros that could be fun to blend with other songs. Creating music in this lens right now is extremely fun and I want to keep exploring it. I can start with an intro, go into a drop and then go into whatever experimental song structure or left turn that I want. For example, I like using the harp because it’s such a contextual instrument. It’s associated with relaxation and serenity, so placing it in a club context will always create something that people aren’t used to.
When did you first start making music? Why were you drawn to it?
I dabbled in bands when I was in high school; I used to be part of a melodic death metal band called Anima Error for a little bit with some members of my church choir. Before I found electronic music, the only way I could insert myself into my favorite music at the time was by covering it on guitar. I slowly realized I’m not that good at guitar. But when I discovered electronic music, I discovered how self-referential it was, with the nature of sampling and loops. And how people could be so creative with the sample, vocal or phrase. That spoke to me, that every sound could suddenly become music, and that music can turn into other music.
Do you express your creativity through any other outlets? If so, does it impact your music?
I do all the graphic design and cover art for my own music as well. I was big into forum culture around 2008, and an internet friend convinced me to download Photoshop to create forum signature art. Virtual Self’s visual image is the perfect tribute to this style that I’ve been creating since I was 12 years old. You would essentially take whatever images you wanted from the internet along with some metallic 3D renders, get some vaguely cool-sounding text and slap them on top of each other to create these bright abstract pieces. I feel these bright explosions and abstract shapes that appear out of nowhere are the perfect mirror to my music, which is created by slapping samples on top of each other. Which is why I often create the cover art first, put it on another monitor, then write a track that matches the mood I’ve gotten from it. Other times, while a track is in progress, I’ll edit the cover art to match the track I’ve “assigned” to it. They can evolve together.
What should we expect from you in the future?
I have a plan to put out way more music than ever before in 2021. The next couple singles are already lined up. While we’re still in quarantine, I’m trying to document as many ideas as I can and see them to completion. Thanks to all the Producer Hour sessions with Soul Food Music Collective in 2020 (we did over 150 last year), I have this large archive of one-hour ideas that I’ve been digging into more and more. I find myself finishing music a lot more quickly and with more confidence these days. It wouldn’t be fair to keep that all locked up.