Posted on December 27 2016
Ceschi Ramos is a rapper and singer from Connecticut who has been hopping genres and spilling guts for the better part of two decades. He has been seen outside venues at 3 am in Germany playing an acoustic guitar and singing to people that didn’t want the show to end. He has written poems to fans from behind bars while locked up on bogus marijuana charges. He has recorded with and toured alongside some of independent rap music’s most influential figures, including Sage Francis, Busdriver and Astronautalis. He has been in bands described as hardcore, crunk rap, lo-fi synth pop, Latin progressive and psych-jazz-rap. He has slept on countless floors when hotels weren’t in the touring budget and lost girlfriends and jobs all for the love of creating and performing.
Ceschi was born with four fingers on his right hand, which served as partial inspiration for the name of his DIY record label, Fake Four, Inc. Those who have worked with him describe Ceschi as one of the most artist-friendly label heads out there, a rare breed who values art over profit almost to a fault. Since 2008, he has curated a roster of wildly original and critically praised talent and put out albums from the likes of Open Mike Eagle, Buck 65, Sister Crayon and Dark Time Sunshine in addition to his solo records The One Man Band Broke Up and Broken Bone Ballads.
An engaging, theatrical live performer, Ceschi Ramos has treated entire venues like a stage, viewing the middle of the audience or an empty barstool as good a place as any to perform a soul-baring folk song or tongue-twisting rap track. Ceschi once described himself in song as “a martyr at most… a failure at least” and said that “In the eyes of history I’ll be no more than a leaf on a tree.” He knows what it is to suffer for his art and is aware that music exploring the ugliness and sorrow of the human condition will always exist on the fringes of a game dominated by disposable escapism and expensive publicists. Yet he still pours everything he has into his craft, and on any given night you can find him tracking vocals at his cousin’s New Haven studio, warmly greeting fans and friends at a dive bar merch booth or rapping double-time in Japan or Europe for audiences that often don’t speak his language, but can see the giant heart at the core of it all.
What have been the high and low moments of your career as a musician?
In all honesty – if somebody told me to check out a guy who plays guitar and raps – I’d likely ignore it. That sounds like a bad combo of Justin Bieber and Wyclef or some bullshit like that. The thing is….I really dislike most acoustic music and most rap – it tends to be dishonest or too safe. Somehow those are the simple musical backdrops I’ve used to vomit words all over. Life has been interesting. Music has brought me around the world….I’ve been lucky enough to tour All over North America, Europe, Asia & Australia. It still trips me out that the music has spread so far on an underground level. Luckily there have been some pretty great highlights…..
One of my favourite musical moments was sharing the stage with Freestyle Fellowship, my favourite hip-hop group of all time, at the Fake Four Fest that I curated along with a gang of great artist friends in Los Angeles.
Another highlight was the Broken Bone Ballads release show at Toads Place in March 2015 New Haven CT – Factor Chandelier & I performed the whole album with a 13 piece band & somehow I convinced my buddies Sage Francis & Pat The Bunny to perform as well. That was a very special show.
Happy to say that this list can be a lot longer….
Lowest musical moments –
Aside from many brutal nights performing in sports bars during big games….or playing to only my tour mates across the world…
A decade ago I was a lead singer in a metal-core band called Dead By Wednesday. We were finalists in a Psychopathic records competition and were eventually asked to tour with Insane Clown Posse & an artist called Boondox along with the Juggalo Championship Wrestling team. These were the biggest shows of my life but I was also sick for the majority of the tour. One night in Oklahoma an angry Juggalo really hated our set and decided to throw a bottle at my head while screaming “faggot”. I dodged the bottle, kept scream-singing, and hurled a rock hard bottle of ice water at this dude’s meth-riddled head. He was on the floor fast and the show went on. That was definitely a low/bizarre moment. Being a working class musician is a strange life.
When did you decide you wanted to be a musician, were you influenced in any way to do so by your friends or family?
Definitely influenced by my family before anything else. My parents were avid music listeners – big fans & collectors of Salsa music from the 1970s. My father is from Puerto Rico & my mother is Italian born in New Haven – but speaks Spanish fluently & has lived in Puerto Rico. They both made music a big part of our lives. I always just had a knack for it since I was a small child. From Beatles to Cuban folk records to Tracy Chapman to Talking Heads to Public Enemy….they kept us surrounded by really interesting art & thinkers. My older cousin Opus has also been in metal bands since he was 16 – some of those bands ended up playing shows with Rage Against The Machine & Woodstock 99 etc…he was the first to show me that underground music could be a job.
Above you mentioned you shared a stage with Pat the bunny which i could only imagine must have really been something, however you also released a split vinyl with him. Being a fan of both yourself, Pat the bunny and his many other side projects i must ask how did that come about?
I first played with Johnny Hobo & The Freight Trains in 2006 when my album “They Hate Francisco False” had just come out. Pat was a young & wild kid and brought his 15-year-old brother Michael along haha….They kind of reminded me of my brother (David Ramos) & myself. Back then I even felt there was something special about his songwriting. We traded cds & I followed him ever since. The first show we played – nobody really knew Pat’s music….by the second time we played every person in the room was singing along. We both individually ended up becoming very close friends with Pepe of the DIYBandits (who was the first person to ever release music by Pat). It was Pepe’s dream for us to make a record together and tour together. We reunited many years later because of Pepe and became quick friends. I can confidently say that we respect each other deeply – so it made a lot of sense to make the split. I really cherish the time I spent touring & making music with Pat and hope people like the record as much as I do. I’m proud of the work we did.
In a few of your songs such as This Won’t Last Forever and Say Something which I have linked below for our readers, you talk about having been in prison and your dislike for the police or in your own words “Back when I was 10 sang fuck the police, 20 years later know exactly what that means”, “Sorry that I never learned to respect authority” Would you say that you are an anarchist?
These days….I don’t like to label myself an anarchist or anything. I’ve been interested in Marxism & Anarchism since I was a young teen. I have deep love & respect for many folks who consider themselves Anarchists – and have learned a lot from those thinkers. The best part of anarchist thinking to me is the fact that there’s a constant criticism of what we consider to be “true” – there’s a constant battle against hegemonic thinking & there is never any settling. That is a difficult journey to go down – but I can’t imagine a better way to learn from past mistakes & attempt to better ourselves as humans. Marx once wrote in a letter,
“[A] ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.”
I see more Anarchists than Marxists actually taking that quote to heart. Anarchism, to me, is the purest model and goal to achieve for humanity. It’s dreaming of a world where we actually have mutual respect for one another and everybody is equally empowered. I don’t necessarily see Anarchy as any immediate answer….I think there’s long, difficult history to be lived ahead….a lot of battles to fight…a lot of ideologies to be unravelled. There cannot be true anarchy without deeper equality first – since “freedom” cannot exist only for a few while abandoning others. It’s likely that this kind of equality is impossible within the confines of this current civilisation. Maybe civilisation will have to be dismantled (by mother nature or through action) for any of these larger goals to actually happen? I’m trying to stay philosophically malleable & believe in anything that gets us closer to those giant goals of equality & freedom for all.
Police are henchmen of a state that does not represent its citizens properly. They are protectors of corporate capitalism, the elite & are humans used as weapons to defend against anybody who actively opposes the government they work for. Today when I quote NWA’s “fuck the police” – It’s not about “fuck your uncle Jim who’s a cop and is a nice dude who wanted a stable job”. Hopefully songs like that are helping you realize that your uncle Jim is being used & manipulated by a government that doesn’t care for him, that gave him a shitty middle class job & a gun, didn’t give him a proper education and made him spend most of his life disliked by many & living in fear – hunting people he thought he’d be helping.
I went to prison for Marijuana. I had guns pointed to the back of my head because of a plant. My entire family were threatened with prison & told their house was being taken away over Marijuana. No logical person would point a gun at a person’s head because of Marijuana. Anybody who thinks cops are acting out of their own desire to “protect others” is sorely mistaken.
You can check out the aforementioned songs here:
From what you’ve told me so far, you have worked with some great artists, is there anyone you would want to work with again or perhaps anyone you haven’t worked with that you would wish to?
I’d love to work with Yoni Wolf of Why? at some point….we almost did something back in the day – but it never happened. I’ve surprisingly never worked with my friends Open Mike Eagle or Milo either….that would be fun to do one day as well.
Broken Ballads was your last album release back in 2015, are you working on anything new? Any plans for an EP, album or perhaps another split even?
I have a few plans for a hip hop EP with a couple good friends (too early to announce yet), a collection of older hip hop songs with Dj Scientist revisited and another acoustic-band split vinyl with a great political folk-rap band from Richmond, VA called DRONES….nothing is coming out too soon but stuff is in the works
You can download Ceschi’s music here on his Bandcamp page:
And follow him at the links below:
Words by Annie Harris
Bio by Brett Uddenberg
Main image by Tim Mannle