With her power pop garage band OSO My Brain, veteran songwriter Holly Ramos released her latest single, “Better Now,” on October 16 (via Velvet Elk Records). This upbeat song is far from Ramos’ first foray into skillful songwriting, though: in the 1980s, as a teenager involved with the New York City hardcore punk scene, she co-wrote songs with Jesse Malin, then the frontman for the band Heart Attack. Since Malin has become a successful solo singer-songwriter in the 2000s, Ramos has continued to write at least one song with him for almost every one of his eight solo albums. In the 1990s, she also fronted the acclaimed punk band Fur, and also released her debut solo album, Racehorse, in 2006.
Ramos has advice for other songwriters hoping to have a long career, as well: “If you feel it and believe in it, if you think you have the gift, then proceed and don’t listen to anyone else,” she says, calling from her Los Angeles home. She speaks from her personal experience with having to disregard the naysayers early on in her career.
“I went to a songwriters conference one time, and they said so many negative things about my songs,” Ramos says. “It was a really interesting experience. All of my songs have some sort of Americana country feel. But they said basically, ‘This isn’t even country.’ That was it. The door closed right there.
“And then another [song], they looked at the lyric sheet and they were like, ‘This is interesting.’ Then I played it and they were like, ‘No, this isn’t going to happen. It’s not commercial,’” Ramos continues. “It was a big red stop sign.”
But Ramos refused to stop believing in herself, and her subsequent successful career proves that her persistence was the right call. When asked how she was able to overcome such negativity from others (particularly from people who are held up as “experts” at the craft), she says, “You have to sort of take that with a grain of salt. I think every artist experiences rejection. Particularly now, [when] there’s just so much stuff out there and there are so many styles. Just because you’re not somebody’s sensibility doesn’t mean that your song doesn’t count.”