By Alex Teitz
India Ramey should be a common name by now. She released 2 albums prior to Snake Handler. Snake Handler is a storied album mixing outlaw country and rock. The songs resonate about loss and remembrance. The video for the title track can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jMEyd-Z6nk
Ramey worked with producer Mark Petaccia to make Snake Handler. Petaccia is known for working with Jason Isbell, Kasey Musgraves, Lindi Ortega to name a small few. The completed work is a striking album of both ferocity and tenderness. For info visit http://indiaramey.com/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Snake Handler?
IR: Patience. It is not a virtue I normally possess but I exercised Jedi-like patience in crafting each song, finding the right producer, getting the album art figured out, etc. It took about a year longer to accomplish but it was worth the wait.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Mark Petaccia. How did you meet? Why did you decide to work with him on Snake Handler? What was he like to work with?
IR: I was introduced to Mark by my good friend and very talented musician, Will Stewart. Will had played with me before and knows my style and personality very well. He has also recorded some things with Mark and thought we would be a perfect fit. He was right. Working with Mark Petaccia was one of the best decisions I have ever made. He got me. He spent so much time and care in making sure this album was the truest expression me and my stories. The songs on this album are so intensely personal and he treated each one with special care. Mark also has an incredible work ethic. He works his ass off until each song is perfect and then works some more. He’s also one of the nicest, funniest people I have ever met.
FEMMUSIC: It sounds like studio time with Snake Handler was quick. What made things work in the studio easily? Did you have a lot of pre-production?
IR: I worked on the songs for a long time before I ever met with Mark and then we did a few pre-production meetings to hammer out the details. The rest developed organically in the studio. It was done quickly because Mark and I have obsessive focus on the work so there is not a lot of down time in the week.
FEMMUSIC: What was your vision for Snake Handler?
IR: I would like for Snake Handler to be a classic like Isbell’s Southeastern or Neko Case’s Fox Confessor but then I want that for all of my albums. That’s a high bar but you have to always be reaching.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How has it changed over time?
IR: It varies from song to song. Some songs write themselves in 20 minutes, others take a year or two to develop. When all I have is just an idea for a song, I usually just start writing down words or phrases that are relevant to the idea and then assemble them in to bigger statements.
FEMMUSIC: What lessons did you learn from making Junkyard Angel & Blood Crescent Moon that helped you in making Snake Handler? What do you wish you knew earlier?
IR: Patience. Again. I was just figuring things out on the first two albums and I didn’t take enough time to make sure they were put out into the world properly. I learned the process and the timeline for a proper release for Snake Handler and have tried very hard to make sure it was put out there in a way that would get it to as many ears as possible.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest impact on you and why?
IR: Probably “Things That Scare Me” by Neko Case. I just have a visceral reaction to that song and it says so much in so few words.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
IR: At times. I have encountered my share of mansplaining from male musicians that want to tell me how to sing or write. I have also been ostracized by groups of male musicians that had a fraternity type mind-set (no girls allowed, we only help out our bros, etc.) I also really really hate it when people offering guidance on my music career want to know my age. What the f-ck does it matter? Does my age make me less talented? Does my age affect my writing? No. I think female musicians are still perceived to have a shorter shelf life than their male counter parts and that pisses me off. I hope that changes.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to tour with, or collaborate with? Why?
IR: Neko Case because she is my hero and a genius.
FEMMUSIC: What’s one thing you’d change about the music industry?
IR: The cronyism. Relationships are important and they are a beautiful thing but sometimes folks don’t listen to anyone outside their bubble and miss out on some good stuff.