“I am for sure my own toughest critic.”
So you've chosen the path of higher education...good for you! What school are you attending and what's your major? What made you consider applying there?
I graduated from Berklee College of Music one year ago with a degree in Music Production & Engineering, and a minor in Commercial Record Production. As a 17-y.o. about to graduate high school, it seemed like the only logical step for me to take. I wanted to focus on music full-time, and felt like I wouldn't have been happy at any other school.
What was the audition process like? What do you think made your audition successful?
It was a 3-part process: interview, prepared piece, and some ear training/sight reading tests.
I was pretty prepared for my piece, bombed the sight reading, but had a great ear training test and a great interview. I think even if you don't have amazing chops yet, the school is genuinely more interested in what kind of work ethic you have and whether or not you'll make positive contributions to the school and its students.
What kind of preparation did you undergo for your audition?
My prepared piece was "Hottentot" by John Scofield, as recommended by my former Live! teacher and mentor Juan. I recorded the backing track with my friend Emily at her studio in Coral Gables, and I practiced it nonstop until the day of the audition. It's a tricky chord progression and I really wanted to make the solo section something more interesting than just a standard pentatonic... Juan helped me break through that threshold.
What kind of projects are you working on right now?
Right now I'm living in NYC, I've got a job at Electric Lady Studios (built by Hendrix in the 70's) as General Assistant trying to work my way up there. I'm also working as a recording/mix engineer for an NYC group called JIL. We've been working on their debut release for almost 2 years now and it's finally finished, so that should be released in the upcoming month.
One of your favorite musical moments so far
JIL going on tour with Maggie Rogers last spring. We played every night for two weeks to 600-700 capacity venues, and Maggie had sold out every single show. Our biggest show was for 1,000 in Montreal. Definitely highlight of my musical career thus far!
What do you do when you need some creative inspiration?
I love going for walks around New York with my headphones on. The energy this city gives off is unlike anything I've ever seen. Creativity instantly recharged.
Do you feel Live! has influenced your musical journey? If so, how?
100%. Every other music school I had tried in the area was leaning more on the "traditional" side. I'll always remember going to my first lesson and my teacher asking me what song I wanted to learn. I couldn't believe it! Live! was a safe haven for young kids to play whatever they wanted to play, while still getting the same top-quality education. It made learning an instrument much more fun!
What has been the most challenging thing for you as a musician?
To me, the hardest thing has been pleasing myself. I am for sure my own toughest critic, and sometimes finding the self-confidence to share your music with other people is tough. I'm sure this is something that every artist goes through from time to time. The key is to be stubborn enough to disregard your own reservations and see a project/piece all the way through; it's the only way to grow as a recording artist.
Fern Souza Ramos | 23 y/o
Berklee College of Music
LMSOM Alumni '09 - '13
Currently Listening To: D'Angelo, Floating Points, Frank Ocean, Burial, Flying Lotus, Radiohead, Marvin Gaye, 2 8 1 4, and Nick Hakim
Any Musical Guilty Pleasures? None. I'm proud of everything I listen to, it makes me who I am!
Dream music collaboration: Marvin 100%. I cry when I listen to his album "What's Going On"