We’re sitting under the Texan sun and David Ramirez hides behind his black wayfarers. He says, between drags of Marlboros and swigs of lemonade, it’s been four years since he moved from Nashville to Austin. He originally moved here for a girl, but by the time the relationship was over, he’d found enough reasons to stay—mainly one: music. “I felt a lot of encouragement from the city,” he says. “Spaces I could share what I do, but mainly folks I ran into, other songwriters I could have a beer or two with, talk music and talk dreams.”
With the upcoming release of Apologies—out Aug. 28—Ramirez thinks back to how things have changed since he fell in love with performing. Ramirez didn’t grow up with music. He grew up in Houston, with a love for family and baseball. When he quit ball and joined choir, the music he knew was Top 40 and teen movie soundtracks like Clueless, Scream and Can’t Hardly Wait. That was his musical education. On his 20th birthday, his cousin gifted him a Ryan Adams record and Ramirez fell in love. “His honesty, his approach, how pure it was, doing what he loved to do and writing what was on his mind,” says Ramirez. “It wasn’t just what was gonna be a hit.” From Adams he moved to Dylan and Dave Rollins, and his own musical style grew through influences and personal experiences.
Ramirez says it’s easy to compare singer-songwriters, anyone “emotional with an acoustic guitar in hand” but he sticks to what he’s passionate about and what he feels is good work. So far he’s been successful, not only because his passion is also his job, but because by now people look for his shows, wait for his records and sing along with his songs. By now he’s achieved one of the most important things—if not, the most important—for an artist: He’s connected with his listeners.
Through touring and the release of American Soil and Strangetown, Ramirez has also learned the importance of discipline, which he says is a big difference between his previous work and Apologies. “I used to wait to be inspired before I sat down, but I’ve since grown past that and learned that if I’m going to call myself a writer I’m gonna write every day,” he says.
“This record deals a lot more with me, things I’ve been going through, struggles, regrets,” he continues. “I talk about my family a bit, and I think that’s going to come across as the most different. As for the approach, I’m just a little more grown up and have had a lot more experience in the studio and playing with the band.”
Ramirez sounds like a man who knows what he wants, which at the end of the day is making music, not money. “I don’t really have an ultimate goal,” he says. “I used to think about it a lot, used to think I wanna be signed by a label, make X amount of money each year, but I don’t really believe if you’re pursuing any medium of art that there’s an end to it.” He pauses, dark hair falling in his face. “If you’re creating and you want to create—then that’s the goal.”
Right now Ramirez is most excited about his upcoming tour with Noah Gundersen, which starts in October and of course, the Apologies release party Aug. 31 at The Parish. “Austin cultivates that attitude, you know, ‘Just play, wherever and whatever you want, but play’,” he says. “We have a community here that’s chasing something, and I’m really proud of this album. So I want to celebrate this moment, celebrate with my city.”