Chilling With Anton Ramos

- Paolo Reyes of Young Star Magazine () - June 19, 2002 - 12:00am
Anton Ramos' newest chill CD, The Chillout Project: A Soundtrack to Modern City Life, is as calming and soothing as it is infectious. The tranquil rhythms of 15 well-selected chillout tracks serve as the perfect out-of-town sounds for the summer, as well as the best antidote to stress even in the most congested of traffic jams in the city. His third commercial release after The Lounge Story, this latest compilation offers cuts from Chicane, Jam and Spoon, Bliss, and Roger Sanchez, among others. It also boasts an original track, "Longing," composed and created by Anton himself. Young Star Magazine sat down with Manila’s chill pioneer to get the lowdown on his love for music, Boracay sunset sessions, and his favorite down-tempo beats. Listen up!

What is The Chillout Project and how did it begin?

The Chillout Project
originated from a radio show that I began in 1997 with 99.5 RT, almost at the same time I opened MusicOne. I met with some guys from RT, and they were doing this show called Acid Jazz every Wednesday afternoon, and they needed help with material. So I'd go every Wednesday and hand them CDs one by one. After a while, acid jazz became a bit dated and I heard a CD called Café del Mar while I was in the

States, and I loved it. Automatically I approached them about doing a new show that would play that kind of music, pumping it to a better time slot, and giving it a full two hours instead of one. The show still airs every Thursday on RT from 8 to 10 p.m. I eventually released a CD compilation with the same title, and it did really well. When the first Chillout Project sold 10,000 copies, it was mind blowing for me. I couldn't believe 10,000 people actually listened to something I put together in my computer!

How do you select the music for your compilations?

I have to admit that I have no real talent except for having taste. What I have is an ear for music, especially for the genre I prefer. I start by asking myself how I feel, and what is the general sentiment of my life at the moment, and then put something together in line with that. In my job, I come across a lot of material and I select the songs that do something for me. All the songs in my compilations have moved me one way or another, and there are no so-called "fillers."

For my new compilation, The Chillout Project: A Soundtrack to Modern City Life, I had to work with the Sony catalogue. The great thing about this is that Sony didn’t limit me to what was theirs; they actually licensed tracks from independents. And some of the songs we included are really difficult to get. But what makes this project really special is the original that I made with a couple of friends, the first song of the CD, "Longing."

Do you consider yourself a DJ?

No I don’t. Yes, I do gigs once in a while for Wasabi and just recently, in Boracay where I did the sunset sessions. But no, also, because I’m not a regular DJ. My music doesn’t get people to stand up and dance. I don't play for the crowd; it’s more of a personal thing for me. I just want people to sit back and listen and feel what I'm feeling. The kind of music I play is conducive to conversations. It’s supposed to encourage people to sit down and talk, relax and unwind, which is rare nowadays.

What’s the biggest compliment you’ve ever received?

It’s the best feeling when people tell you that your music touched and moved them. Just recently I had a friend who got married in Boracay at the spur of the moment. She told me that after such a blissful event in her life, after the reception, everyone just sat down and played my CD on the beach, and they were all mind blown. So its very emotional music if it’s in the right time and right place. Some people also tell they’ve gotten chicks because of my music.

Do you think the local scene is already receptive to your music?

I think they slowly are [getting receptive]. I remember when I put out my show in 1997, I think I was the only one who listened (laughs). It’s really not the kind of music that should be commercial — but it’s starting to be, and there are pros and cons to that. Things have changed over the last four years with chillout becoming more popular. There were days when I'd just go to small bars and play for a couple of friends. Now, in Wasabi for example, I play to a bunch of people I hardly know. But then again, because of those gigs, I got to play in Boracay the past two years for the sunset sessions, and that really changed my perspective. While I’m playing, I could just see people suddenly stopping in awe, obviously not because of me, but because of the whole environment the music, the beach, and the sunset creates. It’s cool to see everybody take a moment. I’ve been playing this music for a long time, but I believe it has found its natural place in Boracay.

What does your new compilation have to offer?

It has an original entitled "Longing" which I created with some friends. Just because of that, it’s a very special project. It came out of a highly emotional moment. It’s not easy, believe me, and after that experience, a have a renewed respect for musicians. Truth is, each CD out there — be it rock, heavy metal, or classical — is the product of somebody’s passion and love. It’s an art.

In my case, it’s subtitled A Soundtrack To Modern City Life so it’s really about taking a step back in everyday life. This is the kind of music you listen to when you want to calm down and relax. You know, we all live such fast-paced lives; every now and then we should step back and enjoy the journey, and appreciate the little things along the way. The Chillout Project should allow you to do that.
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