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Aldo Ramirez was born in a working class ghetto on the outskirts of Mexico City, the result of two calamities- a man’s home carried away by the flooding of a river in a small town the railway had in turn created then forgotten and a candle factory overwhelmed by the industrial revolution sweeping Mexico and bringing with it illumination of a different kind. Both tragedies led to the same city and the eventual union of a man and woman that would one day be parents of a child they would name Aldo.

Spanning the distance between a life in the shadows of a hillside covered by shanty towns, Salsa echoing out of every doorway to a life in the shadows of the perpetually humming Japanese corporate machine, Aldo Ramirez has followed a twisting path of his own.

“Dub is the cornerstone”, says Aldo “it’s the origin and foundation simultaneously of all variations of electronic music, DJing and remixing.”

At age 13 his cousin, a self-trained tattoo artist and one of the pioneers of the art in Mexico, played Bauhaus’ version of Ziggy Stardust and Aldo’s understanding of music was changed forever.

“It was a moment of light. No longer the radio noise or the inevitable low quality coming out of the television” he explains, “I realized that music went far beyond. From that day I spent the next rambling years devouring all kinds of music; New Wave, Punk, Trip-Hop and IDM. I passed through Philip Glass and Herbie Hancock, Break beat and Drum & Bass. I discovered an entire universe of music. I found music for music’s sake, to be heard and not to sell sodas or beer or any of the nonsense they flash you with on MTV accompanied by girls in bikinis and luxury sports cars” he continues, “Not the music that breeds the uneasy dissatisfaction of not being a billionaire and winning Grammys on the red carpet”.

Self-taught by necessity Aldo learned to read and speak English by translating equipment manuals for gear he ordered from England and the United States, even taking a trip to Japan to seek out equipment that was not available in Mexico at the time.

“I remember the nightmare it was trying to understand how to program Midi on a Korg SQD1 in a different language”.
He describes learning as a required addiction to maintain an edge in a technological world that seems to be changing at an unimaginable rate a few decades ago.

“I decided not to use my money or time going to school. Instead I bought the equipment and learned to use it myself. Anyway the industry is moving so quickly, every month several updates are released and some new piece of gear or software emerges and I end up wanting to learn how to integrate it into my setup, in my own way. The way I see it technology is only the tool, it’s more important not to loose contact with the human element. To remember that it is the human mind and body controlling the machine not the other way around”.

“It may seem like it’s easier to “make music” but the truth is that I think sometimes it’s actually more difficult. With so much access to new gadgets people become fragmented and lose their ability to develop true soulfulness. It is so easy to be affected by the proximity of external distractions and they forget their own voice. It’s clear to see this when you consider the frightening similarity between popular and emerging artists”.

What interests me is the seduction of silence, the space between the air, note and frequency. I always start a piece of music with silence, not with sound. From there comes my capacity for abstraction, for music as a fine art phenomenon, a sonic surrealism, a texture and pulse”.

After a few years of performing live music, heavily influenced by the Bad Seeds, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, he began experimenting with electronic music. Typically producing Drum & Bass or Trip-Hop tracks with fellow Mexico City musician Tenochtitlan Sound System.

The two performed tracks, saved to floppy disks or zip drives, in seedy bars and underground clubs in the city’s infamous central district. Over the next decade his D.j style transformed into what could be called “Outernational” a mixture of Brazilian, Afro, Latin, Dub, Funk and Jazz.

Leaving Mexico City for Tokyo in 2009, he began working as an engineer and producer at one of the underground scene’s most cherished independent music studios helping to build their recording facilities and mastering the first tracks to be released by the studio professionally. Aldo has also collaborated with various Japanese musicians ranging from Dub Step to Crossover Jazz artists and worked on remixes for Root Soul and Baba Maal.

“Living in Tokyo has sculpted my sound in ways I never could have planned. When I came here my sound was more Down-Tempo and Jazz. I didn’t anticipate how living amid corporate skyscrapers, sterilized systems of mechanized comfort and economic “progress” would change me. Living in Tokyo has surprisingly led me closer to Dub than ever. Now I sit down to produce music to combat the coldness and isolation of the city, to challenge what most call progress to discard the status quo and in doing so I have found Dub as Punk, as revolution, as evolution”.

Aldo Ramírez is a music producer, audio engineer, remixer and D.j currently living and working with Loud Cloud Studios in Tokyo, Japan.

Dr Jix


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