1215 U Street NW
Washington, DC, 20009
Doors 6:30 PM
Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano Ramirez make up JOHNNYSWIM. The pair met in Nashville in 2005, instituting a songwriting partnership not long afterward. They clicked together musically and personally, beginning a romantic relationship along with their creative connection. The couple married in 2009 and relocated to Los Angeles. In addition to their 2014 debut full-length Diamonds, which has almost 30 million streams, they’ve released three EPs as well as a Christmas EP and a live album. They’ve performed on television shows including VH1’s “You Oughta Know Concert,” “The Tonight Show starring Jay Leno,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Today,” “Live with Kelly & Michael” and their song “Home” remains the theme for HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.”
Additionally, the band performed “First Try” on “CONAN” earlier this year. Watch here: http://bit.ly/2pKu715.
Georgica Pond was produced by JOHNNYSWIM’s Abner Ramirez and recorded at the couple’s home studio in Los Angeles, with bass and drum parts added at the Castle in Nashville, TN.
Of their process, Ramirez explains, “Any fear we had on album one has completely evaporated. We know the people that come to JOHNNYSWIM shows. We know it matters to them what we have to say. We realize that, much like ourselves, our fans appreciate honesty. We wanted that to be the cornerstone of this album.” Amanda Sudano Ramirez further highlights the themes on the album: “love, legacy, the past and the future all put into this bittersweet mixture that makes you fully appreciate the present.”
“This record took so long because when we were on tour, we felt that the energy of the shows was bringing something out in our songwriting,” says Justin Davis of Striking Matches. “We didn’t want to go back in to record until we felt something fresh, something that felt genuine.”
Shameless is the new EP by the acclaimed duo—made up of Davis and Sarah Zimmermann—and it was damn sure worth the wait. The four-song release, produced by Kennedy Karate (Børns), follows the success of their 2015 debut album, Nothing But The Silence—which has accumulated more than 10 million streams worldwide—and gives fans a taste of their ambitious, forthcoming full-length album, due out later in 2018.
“We knew that wanted to do something different,” says Zimmermann. “We made the first record in four days, all live to tape—which was an amazing challenge.
But this time, we had more than a month in the studio, which gave us a lot more leeway with time and ability to experiment.”
“We had time to listen and to tweak,” adds Davis, “with the discipline we learned from the first record. We could do whatever we wanted in constructing sonic spaces. If we wanted to compose and construct an arrangement or a solo, we could get it perfect—or close enough.”
The songs they selected for the Shameless EP are intended as a bridge between the two albums, an introduction to the new directions Striking Matches are pursuing while still retaining the bluesy, rootsy core and instrumental virtuosity of the debut. “Bad” is dramatic and reverb-heavy, with a Roy Orbison flavor, while “Ghost,” says Davis, takes the “direct inspiration of angst and aggression pent up from our first record.” The title track serves as a mission statement for the duo’s fearless approach to creativity, and “Medicine” offers a more rhythmic, groove-centric sound.
The songs represent the culmination of two musicians with eclectic tastes and diverse influences. Zimmermann grew up outside Philadelphia, and mastered the guitar, clarinet and violin before middle school. Davis, who is from Atlanta, began playing guitar at an early age. A professor at Belmont University in Nashville paired them up for class projects, and they soon starting writing together.
Nothing But The Silence, which was produced by T Bone Burnett, was praised in the U.S. and abroad. NPR's World Café hailed Striking Matches as an "Artist to Watch" and Buzzfeed named the duo as one of the "Artists You Need In Your Life.” On top of their own recordings, nine of their compositions were performed in the first four seasons of the hit television series Nashville.
Heading into the sessions for the new album, Davis and Zimmerman made a conscious decision to explore different music, as a means to push themselves into new territory. They mention Talking Heads, Alabama Shakes, John Mayer, Tame Impala, and Lorde as some of the artists whose work left an impact. “We wanted to tap into different parts of our voices,” says Davis. “More of these tunes are based around grooves and riffs, finding sounds in our guitars and applying that in ways that felt new to us.
“At several points, we wondered if we were crazy, because it was such a departure,” he continues. “It’s night and day from the last record, and that took breaking down the things that would inhibit that creative freedom. I think we’re on to something—but I also think we might be crazy!”
“We took a step back and looked at the ideas that we had together,” says Zimmermann. “And I think we saw that if we were to do things any other way, it would still come out sounding like this.”