Chelo Ramírez is in love with regional Mexican music. But that affection is exercised very much in his own style: he is Colombian and dresses as if he were interpreting the city with sweatshirts, jeans and a boyish haircut. He’s weird?
No, the 26-year-old singer says that it is part of making his project natural, of reaching the new generations and with an almost religious respect for the tones and the essence of the genre that was immortalized in Mexico.
In an interview with La-Lista , the interpreter of Suerte , his most popular song, narrates his aspirations to conquer a genre that he does not want to be pigeonholed so that it can be heard throughout the world. Plus, he reveals who he’d like to share a stage, a single, or any musical adventure with in the near future .
La-Lista: How healthy do you see the cultural relationship between Mexico and Colombia?
Chelo Ramírez: This relationship has been going on for a long time and cultural things and ways of life unite us. Mexico and Colombia have been sister countries and that allows many exponents to delve deeper into regional Mexican music.
What do you consider to be the best of Mexican culture and the best of Colombian culture?
The best thing about these cultures and, in general about Latinos, is the human quality. The ease of finding us, helping us and getting to know each other. Definitely human quality is what makes Mexicans and Colombians look alike.
Is it strange that a Colombian plays the Mexican regional instead of cumbia, salsa or reggaeton?
The Mexican regional theme is something that has been here in Colombia for many years. From Juan Gabriel, Joan Sebastian and Don Vicente Fernández. It is a genre with which we have grown up in Colombia and that since our parents or grandparents have heard this genre. It is something cultural, that is in us and we can contribute things to it, because music is universal. The Mexican regional has become something of ours too.
What song was it that got you hooked on regional Mexican music?
There are many songs that I really like. My favorite artist is Luis Miguel and he has a couple of ranchero albums. From there we found great songs. When you listen to a genre, it’s not just a song anymore, but you look at musical aspects. In addition, other exponents such as Christian Nodal have begun to emerge and that makes me like many songs, so it is difficult to opt for one in particular.
How to combine an urban style of dress with regional Mexican music and that seems completely natural?
Thinking about the naturalness of the project. We ignored what is classified in the genre. We wanted to do something that was in keeping with our generation, because we don’t dress the same as our grandparents or our parents. We are who we are, contributing to musicality and that our new generations continue listening to the Mexican regional. We also want to reach other cultures and be natural while respecting musicality. It’s more like a visual addition to the genre. We are used to seeing uniforms and no gender has a uniform. The style of each artist is unique and it is what allows me to talk about the subject.
I chose the genre because of my immense referents. It allows me to express myself as I am and they respect me very much the letters. The genre seems beautiful to me, that inclined me because I can feel comfortable and manage to contribute to the genre as we are doing.
What comments have you received from those who make regional Mexican music in Mexico, like Christian Nodal?
The feedback has been extremely positive . People listen to it in Colombia and we generate something culturally, because if we pigeonhole the genre, it won’t grow anymore. It is the opportunity for it to be different, for it to be international, with much more scope. It’s what happens with genre fusions that allows a genre to grow. This is for it to evolve, but respecting the roots, which is the challenge, the difficult part. If you go to the platforms where they can listen to us, we see everything very positive.
What is the most difficult thing about respecting the essence of this genre?
Everything has a pillar and the essence should not be lost, but it should allow a different sound: that it sounds young, that the arrangements are not flat, that there are technological alternatives for the instruments. It can be rejuvenated in many ways musically. You have to respect the way you talk about the genre, the instruments, the sound. It is the greatest virtue of what we are doing.
Is it necessary for the Mexican regional to be attached to songs ‘of hurt’ to have tequila in hand?
They talk about love, heartbreak, there are songs that refer to someone special. There is no specific theme, what is important is the essence that makes music important to people.
How much internationalization has regional Mexican music reached?
A lot and it is heard in the Southern Cone. Banda music, which was highly sectorized in Mexico, is now a worldwide phenomenon as well. Look at what happens with Natanael Cano, who is speaking to a young audience and mergers are being made. It is opening up to a global focus, we are getting closer to the Anglo and we are going to be an exponential genre in the world. We can do it.
Who would you like to share the stage with?
My musical idol and I don’t know if one day life gives me that surprise, but with Alejandro Fernández and Christian Nodal. Obviously it would be an impeccable dream for me to be able to share with them anywhere.