From dual roles in Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Hamilton as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton to becoming Lady Gaga's pal Ramon in one of the year's biggest movies, A Star Is Born, Anthony Ramos is now sharing his next project, his debut album The Good & the Bad.
The Good & the Bad showcases twelve very personal songs for Ramos, and while he managed to write 21 songs in a mere 30 days as part of the album-making process, the full-length record has been a long time coming, giving him plenty of material to work with — these tracks are all true stories about the singer/actor's life. "Aunty's Basement" is about Anthony's first experience at an industry party while "One More Hour" paints a picture of the first time he and his fiancé kissed. The title track, "The Good & the Bad" is a reflection on life, while the last song on the album, "Come Back Home" is a humbling song describing a big realization.
Ramos exclusively explains to iHeartRadio of The Good & the Bad, "I took a trip to L.A. at the top of 2019, at the top of the year, and I was like, 'All right, here we go.' Straight six-day weeks — like you take a Sunday off, and we just kind of wrote every day. It was incredible. I had so much inside of me that had to come out that I didn't know was in there. And in telling all these true stories about my life, this album became a narrative. This album became about a guy who decided [he] wanted to leave home to figure out who he wanted to be in life, and then realizes at the end. He goes through the good and the bad. That's where the title comes from. Because I think the best things in life and all the things that make our lives full are what's in between the good and the bad."
With the subject matter in these songs being so personal to Anthony, some of the tracks are about his fiancé Jasmine Cephas Jones, who also stars along side him in his "Mind Over Matter" music video. The two met while appearing in Hamilton together — she also played dual roles (Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds) — and as Anthony says, "She's my favorite scene partner." He tells us of working with Jasmine on the visual:
"We had a 14 hour day that day and it was just so awesome. We walked in, and she's been working so hard in her play, and obviously, we had an amazing choreographer, Dana Wilson, who worked on In the Heights with me, and she danced with Justin Timberlake for years. And we were just choreographing it together. We came in, boom, boom, boom, we taught Jazz and everything, she just picked it up like that. And you can't fake that chemistry. We've been together for almost five years and we don't gotta act. That song was written about her. 'Mind Over Matter' is about making love to someone you actually love. We hear a lot of songs about people just having one night stands or maybe like a frivolous night or whatever, and I'm like, 'Yeah, that's cool, and there's a space for that, but I don't live that life.' I live a normal life."
He adds, "When you make love to somebody you actually love, it becomes less about you and more about them every single time. And it becomes less of a physical act and more about the mental. I'm only going to your body to get to your mind. 'I wanna be generous/ A little more tenderness/ Feel you feelin' better than you did before/I'm takin' it serious/ A little more time with it/ Emotional, physical, it's so much more/ 'Cause when we makin' love, real love/ We take it deeper, mind over matter.' You can't fake that, you know? So we had to have her in the video."
Having appeared in a major Broadway show like Hamilton and an award-winning movie like A Star Is Born, Ramos has now taken his experiences with him from the stage and the big screen into his music and how he visualizes his songs. In fact, he calls them "mini musicals."
"I mean it helps to do movies, and it helps to have been on Broadway and do all of that first before I made this album, because I think I see the stories in my head like that. They're all plays in my head. They're all mini musicals. They're all movies in my mind. In 'One More Hour,' I pictured it as, at the end of the song we hear birds chirping at the end of the video, and we hear this dreamy piano at the end, this outro. And in my mind, I was like, 'Okay, so, now let's make this piano real dreamy. Let's put these birds at the end, and if I was shooting this film, we'd pan up to the sky and the birds are chirping, because the sun's coming up, because we had this long, amazing night. And then boom, boom, boom, sky changes. It's daytime and now we're on the beach. We pan down, and boom, now we're on the beach. And those same birds are in the sky, but now they're just in a different place on the beach. It helps to do movies and it helps to do plays because it's how I visualize. Every song on this album is a mini movie to me. These things actually happened to me too. So doing A Star is Born was awesome and getting to watch people like Bradley Cooper direct and working with Spike Lee and watching Spike direct and Jon Chu in In the Heights, and working with Stephanie [Lady Gaga] in A Star is Born and working alongside her and doing scenes with her. Watching her perform, you just learn. Like Lin-Manuel [Miranda]— Lin's been one of my mentors for years and so I think I've been fortunate to have some good teachers."
Speaking of good teachers, Ramos shared exactly what he learned from working with Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born. He tells us, "I think the biggest thing I took away from Stephanie from doing this film was there's no substitute for hard work. She works so hard. And, she knows where she's from, and she knows who she is. And, the most beautiful thing about her was how open and vulnerable she was. Like we didn't know each other really like that, and I got to see that. And people were like, 'Did you guys hang out a lot before you filmed?' And I was like, 'Naw.' They were like, 'Wow, 'cause your chemistry was so amazing.' And I was like, 'Yeah, because she just like was like, 'Here we go. Here's my heart, bro. Don't mess wit it.' To be like, 'Here, I'm opening it up. Here. Let's go,' and I was like, 'All right, let's do it.' And it's amazing to work with artists who are open like that because it just forces you to open up in that way, which in turn, hopefully, gives the audience the freedom to do that when they watch the film."
Photos: Adrianna Casiano