With “Dragon”, a collection of opposites kicked off Ken Ramm’s first album. The juxtaposition of musicians from the “Jazz” world, somehow synced up with musicians from the “Rock” world. Excellent reviews followed and as one critic said, “Local boy deserves to make good.” Recorded at Grant Avenue Studio in Hamilton, Ontario and mixed by Daniel Lanois.
Determined to “make good” on the energy from “Dragon”, Ken reconnected with engineer, musician and Grant Avenue Studio owner Daniel Lanois to create the rhythmic, “Ramm” - “Spark The Universe”. Multiple mixes, both “Dance” & “Dub”, highlight the recording. Originally demoed as, “Pave My Way To Tibet”, the song has become a cult classic, later emerging in 2017 on Stuart Leath’s fine re release label “Emotional Rescue”. More on that later…
Ramm moves into his “Soap Opera Period”, composing feature songs for NBC Productions, including the retro, “Heart Full Of Dreams”, that featured Neil Peart of “Rush” on drums. Recorded at Grant Avenue Studio, with the brilliant Jim Frank (Peter Gabriel, Bob Seeger, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed) as recording engineer. Ramm: “We really did try and get this ‘dated’ sound on the drums. The song was for a character who had been a “one hit wonder” in the ’60’s. Using a small Gretsch drum kit, we managed to capture a bit of the flavour of the time.”
“Heart Full Of Dreams” led Ramm into contact with Jill Diamond, head of music for Proctor & Gamble daytime television. “Jill gave us the chance to compete on a song for “As The World Turns”. Somehow we won the raffle!” A “Daytime Emmy” nomination followed. Featuring a character portrayed by then actress Lauryn Hill, pre Fugees fame, the song “Miss Dis’” became a fitting conclusion to Ramm’s work in that medium.
Toronto-based guitarist/composer Ken Ramm forms Euphoria as a vehicle for his original compositions.
In November, Euphoria is signed to EMI Publishing. Ramm begins writing for the project with Byron Wong and Michael Stanutz, and later with Geddy Lee of Rush.
Euphoria is signed to Six Degrees Records, a San Francisco-based label dedicated to "crossing musical borders and breaking down walls between genres, creating unique, accessible recordings that combine elements from many worlds." Euphoria's music fits this mandate perfectly.
Writing and recording for the debut album continues. The recording takes place over two months in the summer at SARM Workshop in London, a studio owned by Trevor Horn (Art Of Noise, Frankie Goes To Hollywood). The recording process eventually migrates its way to SARM West in Notting Hill, London.
The self-titled album by Euphoria is released on July 13. The album is produced by Garry Hughes (Bjork, Sly and Robbie, Killing Joke), who also contributes keyboards and programming. Tom Elmhirst (David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Adele) steps up as the recording’s mix engineer. Notable guests on the record include Geddy Lee, Anne Dudley (Art of Noise), gospel singer Juliette Roberts, and Soft Machine bassist Roy Babbington. While praising the album profusely, critics struggle to define its innovative and eclectic sound. Ramm's simple definition: "My music is a fusion of forms."
“Delirium”, the opening track on Euphoria, becomes a hit after scoring high-rotation play on such influential American Triple-A radio stations as Los Angeles' KCRW, Denver's KBCO and San Francisco's KFOG. In Canada, "Delirium" also scored at modern rock radio thanks to Toronto radio station CFNY. As well as charting in the U.S. AAA Top 10, a remix of the track, by Fila Brazillia, hits No. 2 on the UK club charts.
Euphoria comes to the attention of Denzyl Feigelson at Apple. Ramm: “Denzyl was Steve Jobs’ music supervisor in North America. He took a liking to Euphoria, licensed ‘Delirium,’ and took it to Jobs, who was a very hands-on guy." The track passed muster and it was used to by Mr. Jobs in his famous ‘Keynotes’ presentations.
‘Delirium’ is placed in a commercial for Nissan. Ramm: "Eric Grunbaum, a creative director at [major ad agency) TBWA/Chiat/Day in L.A., was looking for a piece of music to use in a car ad he was doing for the Nissan Infiniti SUV. He was listening to KCRW in LA one night, heard ‘Delirium,’ called the station to find out about the song, and went on to license it. The commercial premiered in the NBA playoff finals, with the LA Lakers playing, so it was a very high-profile ad.” This placement was cited in a Business 2.0 feature story in 2003 as a pivotal moment in the use of music in commercials, one that spurred close links between Madison Avenue and tastemaker station KCRW. "A star soundtrack for an ad was born," they wrote.
“Delirium” quickly attracts the attention of other music supervisors for film, television and commercials. It was featured as the international trailer for the 2001 Cameron Crowe / Tom Cruise movie Vanilla Sky and one of the “Delirium” remixes is used in a key episode of Malcolm In The Middle. Sci Fi show Roswell makes excellent use of “The Dreamer” and helps to showcase the diversity of licenses that Euphoria is capable of getting.
Six Degrees release a label compilation, Your Musical Passport. The radio edit of “Delirium” is selected as the opening track. Other artists featured include Willy Porter, Bob Holroyd, Banco de Gaia, and Roy Nathanson with Elvis Costello.
In October, Ken Ramm begins recording the second Euphoria album in London, Wales and at the SARM West studio. The album is produced by Garry Hughes (Bjork, Sly and Robbie, Killing Joke), who also contributes keyboards and programming, as well as co-writing “Beautiful My Child” and “Little Gem” with Ramm. The album is engineered by Donal Hodgson (Sting, Counting Crows). Prominent players on the record include programmer Sean Spuehler (Madonna, Blur, William Orbit), pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole (Eric Clapton, Brian Eno, Bjork), and vocalists Maddie Willis and Gayle Day.
The second Euphoria album, Beautiful My Child, is released by Six Degrees. As with Euphoria, its tracks are licensed extensively for film, television and commercial use. Ramm: "The album got me introduced to the people at [hit TV series] CSI. Their music supervisor Jason Alexander is a big Euphoria fan. He took the song 'Little Gem' to open a CSI episode. It eventually ended up on the soundtrack release, along with The Who, Robbie Robertson, Zero 7, The Chambers Brothers, New Order and other artists I admire so much.”
The first single from Beautiful My Child, "Sweet Rain" is remixed by such notable remixers as Fila Brazilia and Faze Action. A video for it was shot in L.A. by famed SFX company Rhythm & Hues Studios (Superman Returns, X-Men) and it featured the L.A. Gospel Choir. The track was used in the acclaimed documentary film, Melungeon Voices (2007) and as the high profile trailer. Documentary Down Home (2010) followed, with both projects marking the beginning of Ken’s relationship with North Carolinian director and cinematographer Warren Gentry. Under a special arrangement with EMI Publishing, a large number of tracks from Beautiful My Child and other Euphoria music were used as the score to both Melungeon Voices and, later, Down Home.
Sweet Rain" a song from Beautiful My Child, is selected by Steve Jobs at Apple to launch MacWorld 2002.
“Delirium” returns to the spotlight when Apple uses it to help launch the iTunes music store. Ramm: “The first ad for iTunes is narrated by Bono, Alanis Morissette and Wynton Marsalis, talking about this big moment in music history. The music playing in the background is ‘Delirium’.”
Writing and recording for the third Euphoria album begins. Studios used include Metropolis in London, The Sunset Marquis in L.A.., and EMI Publishing studios in London and Toronto.
Sync licenses for Ken’s material continue, this time it’s “Delirium” as the international trailer for Hidalgo starring Viggo Mortensen.
In part through the assistance of Rush frontman Geddy Lee, Euphoria scores a new record deal, with prestigious U.S. roots music label Rounder.
Precious Time is released on Zoe/Rounder. The album is produced by Ken Ramm, with co-production by Sean Spuehler (Madonna, William Orbit, Blur), Donal Hodgson and Steve Sidelnyk. Guests on the album include acclaimed vocalists Tina Dico (Zero 7) and Tracy Bonham and harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy (Bela Fleck and The Flecktones). Levy played on the first single, the driving "Back Against The Wall." Ramm: "Army guys really liked that song. There was a military base in Louisiana that had a Triple A station nearby, and they kept getting requests for it."
"Blue," the second single from Precious Time, is named Single of the Week on iTunes Europe. As with the first two albums, many of the tracks were licensed. A remixed version of "Blue" was placed in Luck, a TV series created by Michael Mann (Thief, Manhunter) with HBO that starred Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte. Ramm: "It's a high-speed remix that they used in a club scene.” Mann also licensed "Devil May Care" from Beautiful My Child for the series. A bonus cut on the iTunes version of the album, "Sleeper" (also featuring Dico), was licensed to CSI. The high production quality of Precious Time meant that many high-end audiophile publications used it to test their equipment.
Ken Ramm begins writing material for a fourth Euphoria album. Ramm also begins working with noted producer Peter Denenberg. Co-producer and engineer on all the Spin Doctors hit albums, Denenberg’s extensive credits list includes work with Roger Glover and Deep Purple, John McLaughlin, Boz Scaggs, Mick Ronson, Dream Theater, Joan Osborne, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The two continue working together into 2014.
Ramm secures financing to record demos, and heads to London to team up once more with Donal Hodgson. The pair work on a mixture of instrumental and vocal material. Further recording later takes place in Mamaroneck (New York) and Toronto studio Vapor Music. Nashville singer/songwriter Kalisa Ewing contributes a new song, "Black Magic."
At the suggestion of EMI Publishing Canada, Ramm begins working with singer/songwriter Robyn Dell’Unto. She writes lyrics and sings on tunes based on Euphoria instrumental tracks.
Ramm had met with Denzyl Feigelson at noted digital distribution label AWAL (Radiohead, Moby) based in RAK Studios in London in 2011. Further dialogue leads to a deal with AWAL. Label ‘Music Consultant’ Sophie Townsend comes up with the idea of a simultaneous release for a Euphoria instrumental and vocal album.
In August (27th), Euphoria releases E4: The Instrumental Album and E4: The Vocal Album globally via AWAL. Ramm: “It’s a bit of an ‘odds & sods’ type of album. Tracks that were ‘in the can’ mixed with some originals. The most fun part of recording E4 was mixing at Twickenham Studios and spending time walking by the river in Richmond, London.”
In April, via his connection with Peter Denenberg, Ramm gives a Master Class at SUNY Purchase College, in New York State. “This was a great experience for me. The class was very knowledgable and Peter really gave me a boost at an opportune time when I needed it.”
In October, Ramm travels to North Carolina to work with cinematographer Warren Gentry and shoot two videos, “N'Awlins [The Lumber River Chronicles]” and the highly regarded “Back Against The Wall”. The Gentry shoot travels the course of the famous Cape Fear River through Raleigh, Lumberton County and Wilmington. “This shoot was an important turning point in my life, much like my experience with Peter. The “Back Against The Wall” video is still a visual high point for me. It set a standard of high quality visual work for Euphoria.”
Ramm Travels to NYC to meet with Anna Lomax Wood the daughter of esteemed American musicologist Alan Lomax and granddaughter of John Lomax at the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE). Trips later in the year to Los Angeles and San Francisco help cement Ramm’s focus and direction towards new material.
French record label Folistar releases the “Euphoria Remix EP” in 2016 with a track finding its way on to a compilation for highly regarded Paris based pop culture mag Tecknikart. As part of the same trip, Ramm travels to London U.K. for meetings with Apple and others. Connected by Denzyl Feigelson, Ramm jams with the superb U.K. musician Nitin Sawhney, at his studio in Brixton.
On November 4, 2016, Ramm hears an interview on Connecticut radio station WPKN. The radio show, called “Connections”, is hosted by WPKN DJ, Eric Cocks.
On that show, Ramm hears NYC musician, record producer and recording engineer Steve Addabbo in conversation with Cocks. Intrigued by the dialogue, Ramm makes a decision to track down Addabbo for further dialogue and the possibility of working together on new Euphoria material.
Ramm is contacted by Stuart Leath, head of a highly regarded UK reissue label, Emotional Rescue. Leath explains that “Spark the Universe”, a track that appeared on Ken Ramm’s 1984 EP, Ramm, had become an underground cult hit in England, after being featured at a high-end London listening room called ‘Brilliant Corners’. Ramm signs a deal with Emotional Rescue to release “Spark The Universe”.
In April, after a jam session, Ramm begins working with Grammy-winning producer and recording engineer Steve Addabbo at his New York City studio, Shelter Island Sound Studios. Addabbo helped launch the careers of Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin, and has produced and/or engineered for artists including Bobby McFerrin, Bob Dylan, Eric Andersen, Loudon Wainwright III, Jeff Buckley, Gary Lucas, Jane Olivor, Olivia Newton-John, The Manhattans and Dar Williams. An acclaimed mix engineer, he earned a Grammy for his work on the Bob Dylan box set Bootleg 12: The Cutting Edge.
“Spark The Universe” is reissued in October, along with a Dance and Dub remix, plus a Discomix from the label’s own Chuggy.
Leath recommends that Ramm contact dublab, an L.A.-based internet and terrestrial radio station with a global reach and a stellar reputation that included The Guardian terming it the best such station in the world. Ramm connects with dublab Program Director Alejandro Cohen, and a very productive relationship ensues.
In November 2017, Ramm guests with Alejandro Cohen on the dublab show “Elevation Through Sound”. “This was a thoroughly enjoyable two hour interview with Ale. I got to feature a number of Euphoria tracks that I always wanted to hear on the radio, remixes that were very rare and in some cases, underexposed. There are also musical moments of what is to come in the future,” Ramm says.
In November 2018, Ramm is interviewed by top British radio host Steve Lamacq for a show on BBC Radio 6, called Good Day Bad Day.The theme of the program is music to play on good days and bad days, and Ramm chose, respectively, Aretha Franklin’s “Spirit In The Dark” and The Who’s “I Can See For Miles.” Lamacq is intrigued by Ramm’s list of memorable shows he has seen in Toronto, from the Beatles to The Who, MC5 and The Troggs. Ramm: “Steve was very gracious, giving me air time to promote myself and Euphoria. I know it was not the ’norm’ for that part of the show to have musicians on. I made the most of it and got some very good response from listeners and Steve himself.”
Ramm makes multiple trips to NYC to work with Steve Addabbo on new Euphoria material. “Steve has a tremendous collection of vintage gear, in and outside the box, and I wanted to do things out of the box,” Ramm explains. “For the upcoming Euphoria record I’ve aimed to do things old-school, working together in the same room.”
Ramm is invited to dublab’s 20th anniversary party in Los Angeles on September 21, 2020. This is a ‘full on’ event for dublab, with at least ten stages at the Bedrock studio and rehearsal space going on simultaneously throughout the event. Ken performs a set of original compositions, solo, on guitar, to a well received response. Ramm: “I had always wanted to do a solo set of my material. I rehearsed for a month beforehand, picking the material to make it flow like one continuous thirty minute piece. Magically it all went well. Practise and preparation cannot be denied as an important key to any successful performance.”
In January, Ramm returns to LA to be featured on the dublab show In His Own Words, hosted by Alejandro Cohen. The two hour show features Ramm reflecting upon his musical influences. Ken also records music for Euphoria with Patrick Gleeson, the legendary synthesist, famous for his work with Herbie Hancock and for his sonic collaborations on the score for the Francis Ford Coppola film, “Apocalypse Now”.
In July, Ramm interviews pioneering electronic musician and composer Patrick Gleeson for dublab. The two artists hit it off when collaborating musically. Gleeson is featured on the upcoming Ramm/Euphoria track, “Deep Calls Out”. “Patrick is a fascinating person to converse with, one with a huge range of experience and deep knowledge,” says Ramm.
As well as working on new Euphoria material, Ramm continues to explore his earlier material and plans reissues. “I’ll be doing what they call ‘Deep Dives’, and re-releasing my back catalogue of music,” he explains. “That includes Euphoria music that has not been released, as well as going back to the beginnings of my career with my 1980 solo debut album, “Dragon.” That critically-acclaimed record, featuring elements of jazz-rock fusion and prog rock, has never been released digitally.
A highly-regarded label and distributor is in place for these upcoming reissues. Ramm is also planning a revised reissue of his Ramm EP, one including a previously unreleased track, that had never been released digitally, from those sessions, “Pave My Way To Tibet.” Ramm: “Pave…” was being bootlegged at ridiculous prices. I wanted to step up and release a high quality version. For that I enlisted Steve Addabbo, who’s mastering experience at Sterling Sound in NYC, made him the perfect person to take both “Pave My Way To Tibet” and “Dragon” to 21st century sonic heights.”
Ramm notes that “these reissues will lead to my new Euphoria recordings, to come out in 2021.”