Anthony Ramos Digital Covershoot and Interview with FAULT Magazine

Anthony Ramos X FAULT Magazine

Anthony Ramos In The Heights Hamilton For FAULT Magazine
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Photographer: Sydney Claire
Fashion Editor: Chaunielle Brown
 Hair: Isaac Davidson @ The Industry
Makeup: Emily Amick
Videographer: Miguel Gallardo
Location: The Craic Brooklyn 

Special Thank You To The Team Of The Craic Brooklyn 

 

Words: Miles Holder

Like many great artists, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all box that we can place Anthony Ramos in – nor does he wish there to be one. 

Whether it be his heart-wrenching portrayals of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in the acclaimed stageplay ‘Hamilton’, his full of life take on Mars in Spike Lee’s series ‘She’s Gotta Have’ or his open and honest album ‘The Good & The Bad’ laced with viewing windows into his earlier years – no matter where you stumble across Ramos’ work – you’re always intrigued to know where he’ll go next. 

While music has always played a large part in his career, from the stageplays and soon to the big screen with his role of Usnavi in the upcoming film adaptation of In the Heights – his album finally let us appreciate Anthony for his most genuine and vulnerable performance yet – himself. 

We caught up with Anthony to discuss his music, career progression and the risks involved in not fitting into the proverbial box.

 

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The album opens with Dear Diary – which is an incredibly honest track to start and you discuss your family and your younger years, was it difficult to be this truthful with your audience?

I remember sitting in my A&R’s office and her saying to treat it like the first date and just say what you want people to know but I wanted to go deeper and say things I’m too scared to say without the music. 

It was hard to be that open especially to talk about my Dad and what it was like leaving home. In the track ‘Woman’ I talk about relationships I messed up and in ‘Figure It Out’ I talk about loneliness which is probably the hardest song for me to sing. 

It was tough to share that but easy at the same time because it was in me and I wanted to get it out and say that I do feel lonely. I haven’t been particularly open about things in my life so it wasn’t easy to be open until I decided I had to be open. We wrote 21 songs in 30 days because it was in me and dying to get out.

Anthony Ramos In The Heights Hamilton For FAULT Magazine
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In your track ‘Women’ you discuss wishing you could “love like a woman does” and how special a woman’s love can be – what was the origin story of the song. 

The day we wrote that song I was on a call with the other amazing songwriters and Amy Wadge was the only female voice in the room and she was talking about her love for her husband and her kid. I didn’t know what to write about that day and here was the only woman in the room going into detail about the ways she loves and my mind was blown. I thought “it must be crazy to give that kind of love.” and it made me think about how special and how important that type of love is. 

It made me think of the ways that men love and how we often fall short of giving the love that deeply. “I wanna be the ground that you land on, I wanna be the rock you can stand on” this kind of love is solid, unbreakable, strong and the women in my life have always loved me unconditionally as opposed to some of the men in my life. And it made me think about my own love, why have I always been the one to run in the past and I wish my love was so strong that it made me stay like a woman’s love is. 

When I was a young man I think I learned very much the “way a man should love” and I want to go back and unlearn that.

Anthony Ramos In The Heights Hamilton For FAULT Magazine
Sunglasses Coco Luxe Vintage Shop | Jacket Coco Luxe Vintage Shop | Shirt Ermenegildo Zegna | Pants Perry Ellis | Shoes Dr Martens | Socks Falke

 

You mention wanting to try a bit bit of everything, does it ever scare you that if you become a jack of all trades you’re doomed to be a master of none? 

I feel that “master” is subjective and it’s a different thing for different people. What I try to do is only focus on one thing. If I’m focusing on my album then I’m only working on that album if I’m focussing on a movie then that movie is my sole focus. 

I’m not trying to be a master at anything. I just like making art and doing stuff that gets me excited. If that means I’ll never become a master at one particular craft, so be it. At least I know that I’m doing what I love at a high level – I still strive to be the best I can be with everything that I do. 

Over time I am getting better at all of these individual practices that have my heart. I like taking chances, I don’t want to do one thing because I’m good at something or stick to one project because it’s working. I’m okay with something not working because chances are what make life and art so awesome. 

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After you take a chance and it works, how do you know when it’s time to leave and move on to the next thing?

I think you just feel it. You don’t need to hit a home run on all the projects before leaving but I think I’ve spent my whole life seeing the people around me live safely and I didn’t want to live that way. I’m going to go for my dreams and that’s going to involve me taking chances. 

It might be intimidating to audition for a movie with a certain director and it might be intimidating to get in certain rooms with certain people and I was nervous before I started making music but you’ve got to decide for yourself. 

There’s a story I want to tell and I’m going to tell it. I follow that instinct and I believe in God so I follow my gut. It can be scary to take on certain roles or to do certain things, I stopped acting and I went to LA to focus on my craft. I could have continued my acting but there was something inside of me that made me want to go and make music. 

My team didn’t understand it and sometimes they won’t but I knew I had to do it. I’d be lying if I said I understand the decisions I had to make but I’ve lived a lot of my life on feeling and I think somethings feel right and somethings feel wrong and you just gotta go with what feels right. 

 

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You discussed knowing when to leave a project and to take She’s Gotta Have It – did you feel that Mars’ character progression had come to an end or your progression as the actor playing him had ended.

The project finished because Netflix wanted it to be done but I feel like I would have continued. I think after the first season we were all hoping for a second but even if that didn’t come I was always going to stop acting to do my music. I had to take that chance and it cost me money and time but I was very focussed on the studio. 

You can do both and meet the right people in the day and studio at night but the album was always number 1 and I wasn’t trying to do anything else.

As far as ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ and any other role, I take it and once it’s done I search for what else is going to move me. Spike Lee was one of the biggest champions of me going to write – he kept asking me “are you going to write, where’s the album?!”

Spike gave me my first chance to share my music on the show and the track wasn’t even mixed but he liked the music and he didn’t care – he just wanted to support me. He took me to meet people who could help my music and he pushed me a lot to keep writing. 

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‘In the Heights’ is set to drop this summer and having performed in the stageplay too, I wondered what were the new challenges you faced bringing the production to the big screen. 

The Musical is about real people who are living their lives, who have big dreams like so many of us. Life circumstances have made it harder for my character ‘Usnavi de la Vega’ to achieve his dreams but he wants to run away because home is in the Dominican Republic. 

I think I struggled with really letting go and trusting my ability. I think it was learning how to pace myself and it goes back to what you saying about being the “master”. I shot two music videos and mixed an album while shooting the movie and that was hard. I didn’t grasp how much work it was to do that task and be doing a secondary project at the same time. I did it and I’m so glad I did because I achieved what I tried to achieve but my emotional and mental state suffered in the process. 

I think that was the greatest lesson from that project. I think to become the best you can do you need to be super focused and I think I was a bit scattered during the project. But the opportunity was a dream and one of the greatest experiences of my life. Everyone on the cast lifted each other and we supported one another. 

 

What is your FAULT?

I need to communicate better with my loved one – I have a therapy session today and it’s all about making me a better communicator. I need to work on that and I will continue to work on that.