photography by Carol Mckenzy
interview by Eva Davidová
Ramona Wouters intertwines magical beats that she discovers along her adventures and travels of life. She is constantly inspired by the energies of her audience and works in close proximity to nature and it’s gifts to humankind.
Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, music is when a thousand words can’t express itself. To many of us, music is a refuge, an escape from the realities of life and the unfolding of the new. Music is a marvellous complexity of expression, a universal language. It is one manifestation of our need to communicate with one another. It connects us to the beautiful culture of a place, to our roots, to the cultural and spiritual soul. We need to have music to help each individual’s body, mind, soul and spirit. Music is like a poetry of the air, when language aspires to transcend and when your soul wants to break free from life’s daily routine, that’s where music come in. It heals and soothes the soul, being the ultimate language of the soul.
Ramona’s music reminds us to tune up with the frequency that gives US well-being, good health and happiness and a desire to create wellbeing, good health and happiness for others. Let your consciousness expand with an open mind to the reality that life in itself is a miracle mysterious SOUND.
The Belgian artist, who is currently based in San Franciso, brings depth and heartfelt emotion to a music scene that is ripe for revolution, and that, more than anything, gives us, as listeners a tremendous amount of hope. If there’s one lesson for me in her music, it’s that with enough passions, beauty can be found anywhere – even in the darkest places. It shouldn’t be necessary to plumb those depths in order to create something of lasting importance, but those who do, should be commended for their bravery. Those artists have the courage to bare themselves emotionally naked and scream to the world, “This is me – this is me with all my first and grime and imperfection.”
She has recently traveled to Chile where she participated in a nomadic experiment that searches to generate a space for gathering, exchange, and promotion of cultural roots of Latin America by combining music, art and sustainable tourism. Festival Nómade takes place faraway from big cities where life is still lived according to ancestral beginnings, encouraging eco-tourism in remote places. It is built on the basis of respect and care for nature and is shaped to be a platform for artists with congruent musical explorations – those which rekindle the fire of folklore through the use of musical tools brought to us by new technology. We got the chance to chat with Ramona about her experiences from the festival as well as what currently inspires her as an artist.
“Most festivals or events I attend are forward thinking in that way and have a leave no trace policy, so people bring their own cups etc, or they provide one cup that gets refilled with the festival logo, people seem pretty aware these days, or perhaps it the places I seek out that cater to that, it’s a huge part of my reason to want to go or not.”
You have recently attended Festival Nómade in Chile, what was your most magical experience from the festival?
The whole Nomade experience was magic and still is, the connections that we’re made are still blossoming. It was a decision made from the gut, I just felt I wanted to be there and have that experience so everything just fell into place, it truly was magic.
Who are some dream artists you would love to collaborate with right now?
I feel a bit strange about naming anyone a dream artist to collaborate with. I feel lucky to be lined up with people who’s music I buy so I guess the promoters are doing a great job and matching and I feel honored to be recognized as so.
What do you think is the future of sustainable tourism and how can art and music help it grow?
Most festivals or events I attend are forward thinking in that way and have a leave no trace policy, so people bring their own cups etc, or they provide one cup that gets refilled with the festival logo, people seem pretty aware these days, or perhaps it the places I seek out that cater to that, it’s a huge part of my reason to want to go or not.
Thinking back through your life, was there a key experience or moment when you knew you wanted to work with music?
I grew up with grandparents who had a bar; I had to go to bed early, but could hear the juke box playing :) and remember LOVING the music and was always wondering what was going on down there. laughs. A couple of years later I had a boombox next to my bed that I would listen too with the sound very low as to not get busted by my parents, and I would sometimes do so till the early mornings like 4am or so and then went off to school at 7am. I think thats how my mouse ears got trained. Then at the age of about 14 or 15, this kid Mike gave me my first mixtape from a club called Boccocaccio in Belgium, the electronic music back then was called New Beat, and that was it! Hooked, I asked my parents to bring me there since I was too young to go on my own and they really did. laughs. I danced my little butt off from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. and once I was old enough I went to Belgium on my own and discovered more of the music scene over there as well as the Dutch house scene.
What influences your music the most?
It’s very moody, I guess it depends where I’m at in life. As far as buying music, I always go for layers with unexpected turns where possible, I like the unpredictable, like a tease, a prolonged orgasm, and to play for a long time.
In three words how would you describe yourself:
Unpredictable, honest, giving
What’s a quote that inspires you right now?
“There’s a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in”
Ramona carefully uses sound to work creatively with structures of time and space, challenge distinctions of nature and culture and balance her needs for productive solitude with collaboration and community. She is a paramount example of how music can connect others and help them seek the beauty within themselves and their everyday life. Proposing new ways of perceiving, of seeing, of hearing and feeling.
José Alarcón, the founder of Festival Nomade, also gave us an insight into his creative world and his astounding project and how it all humbly came together. During this gathering the first three days are dedicated to construction, consciousness and learning. Through workshops and lectures festival participants, along with the community, have the opportunity to connect with new friends and surroundings and also take part in constructing some of the infrastructure that will remain in the community to benefit the families of Manquemapu. The final three days of the festival are dedicated to music. Being a festival of folklore until the sun sets, with the appearance of the first stars and through the night until sunrise, this is a truly special festival of Latin American electronic music. The journey is based on the authentic and indigenous sounds of the continent, supported by musical tools that new technology had brought us.
How did the idea for Festival Nomade come together?
I have traveled throughout South America, listening to people´s music, and visiting small communities in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. I had never been to a big festival before the idea of Nomade came to be, but I wanted to create a space that acted as a trip through South America, a journey from the old to the new, connecting South American roots with modern music. I also wanted to be part of something that helped bring in some more income for these small, indigenous communities so they have the choice to stay in their homes. At the same time, I wanted to encourage people from the city to get out for a while, carry a pack, get far away, and reconnect with these roots.
How do you think we can encourage more of eco-tourism and sustainable practices in our daily lives?
People need to get out of the cities. We need more people who know how to work the soil, how to cultivate, who know the forest. I think people need to stop eating up all the trash of the media and educate themselves about the limit of our resources and our impact in this world. People can learn a lot by packing their bags and leaving home for new experiences. And realizing that they don’t have to be just one more in the world. Everyone can leave a positive impact.
“People need to get out of the cities. We need more people who know how to work the soil, how to cultivate, who know the forest. I think people need to stop eating up all the trash of the media and educate themselves about the limit of our resources and our impact in this world.”
What does music and art personally mean to you?
Music is a world without end. I started traveling looking for music when I was 20. I went down rivers, into jungles, explored a lot of new worlds for me. It was endless what there was to discover. And now that there are artists out there fusing traditional roots music with the modern creating whole new worlds. Music can transport you into worlds that are beyond this physical one we know. It’s a language, carrying you to new feelings, connecting you to emotional moments, to different people, to different cultures and experiences and bringing you back again.
What are words that inspire you currently:
If you think you’re crazy, there are thousands of crazy beautiful people just outside.