10 Questions with ... Kelvin Ramirez
September 16, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1) How did you get started in Internet radio?
It all started in 2005. Reeling from the loss of Party 93.1 being taken off the airwaves, I was looking for a new Dance radio station to call home and came across XM's BPM. I was a fan for years but as time went on, the quality of the channel declined. I'd often take to the XMFan forums to vent my frustrations with BPM. This went on for years until finally 2009 rolled around and I got sick and tired of hearing myself complain about it. I figured, if I thought I could do a better job then why not do it myself? That's when Ascendance Radio was born.
2) Your wife is also your partner and MD for Elevation, does that make for some interesting dinner conversations about music?
It really does. We always find ourselves talking about station-related topics, whether it's a song we should add or an artist we're going to interview. Dance music is something we both love and being able to work on it together is something I never could have imagined but am eternally grateful for.
3) What was the first song you played when you launched Elevation?
The first song we ever played on Elevation was 4 Strings "High On Life." That's partly where we get the name from ... the natural high that dance music is able to give you.
4) What would you say is the music programming philosophy of Elevation?
The music programming philosophy of Elevation is to play what's good, not always what's popular. It sounds ridiculous because what radio station out there aims to play crappy music? A lot if you tune into FM, in my opinion. As an Internet radio station, we have the luxury of not having to play it safe like FM. By safe I mean we don't have to worry about a new artist not being familiar for our audience or if a track is old/familiar enough with our listeners. We don't have to worry about F bombs or corporate breathing down our necks if the ratings go down.
Many times at Dance radio conferences like the Promo Only Summer Sessions, you'll hear the people who work at FM talk about people meters and research and on how difficult it is to break tracks because of the state the industry is in. Internet radio doesn't have that problem. We're the ones taking chances on the new artists. We're the ones taking risks on the new sounds. We may not have the millions of listeners that FM has but at the same time we're the only ones who pay to run a station instead of the other way around. So to go back to the original point, we play what we think is good whether it's a new artist, new sound, an untested track or whatever is going on with the song. Quality over popularity.
5) You've just launched a new station; can you tell us a little bit more about that station and the other stations you are running?
We just launched The Electronic Dance Experience, or EDE for short. It's a pop-dance station focusing on what's popular in dance right now. Far too many times when programming our current station, Elevation, we run into the issue of wanting to play deeper tracks from a variety of different Dance genres (deep house, tech house, uplifting trance, drum n bass, etc.) but not having the room because we're trying to keep up with the flood of EDM tracks coming out every week. So we decided to essentially split Elevation into two, forming a station that focuses on what's popular (EDE) and another one that focuses more on what's good (Elevation, soon to be renamed to Escape). That way, if you're in the mood for more of the Dance tracks you'd hear on FM and at festivals, you have EDE. When you're ready to expand your Dance music horizons and go deeper, you'll have an Escape. We also have a third channel called Daybreak, which focuses more on trance and progressive. All together we have a great group of stations and once we recuperate mentally, physically and monetarily, we'll look into launching more.
6) You recently took pictures as an official Summer Sessions photographer. What got you into photography?
Photographing the Promo Only Summer Sessions was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The event is always so intimate and to be able to go backstage and get close and personal with artists such as Steve Angello and Dillon Francis, as well as all the panels that were held, it was something else. As for what got me into photography? Honestly? I wanted not only free access to events (South Beach clubs aren't cheap, especially for guys) but also backstage access. That, and as much as I love Dance music, I don't like to dance and photography provided me with an excuse not to. I do enjoy it a lot and plan on upgrading my gear over time to improve my pictures. There's no greater feeling than taking a really good picture and having an artist share it on social media to all their fans.
7) Do you have any favorite restaurants that we should check out next we hit South Florida?
There's a great Italian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale called Nick's. It's right on the beach and has the best Italian food I've ever had in my life.
8) How much time do you spend checking out new music for your stations each week?
New music is a 24/7 job. My Facebook feed is full of posts from artists, labels, blogs and friends with good music taste. There's just so much Dance music being made right now; new artists are always springing up. It's tough to keep up. Not to mention on a weekly basis I go through a list of international charts looking for new music. It's not easy but I fully enjoy it.
9) Is one song that you never grow tired of hearing over and over again?
Not a song specifically but rather an artist. Delerium. I'm talking their original work, not their remixed stuff. It's more Electronica than Dance, but it never gets old, no matter how many times you listen.
10) What was the first album that you purchased?
The first album I purchased was actually from those TV infomercials back in 1995 when I was 10 years old. Montell Jordan -- "This Is How We Do It" was my absolute favorite song of the time and "Dance Mix USA Vol. 4" had it and many memorable dance tracks on it and after weeks of begging my parents to buy it, they bought it for me. So technically it's the first album my parents purchased for me.
Is there any artist that you would like to interview that you haven't had the chance to speak with?
I've been lucky enough to interview some of the world's biggest dance artists but there's one artist that has always alluded me and that's Kaskade. Every time he's in town we try for an interview but for one reason or another it doesn't work out. One day, Kaskade, one day!