As one of Brooklyn’s hottest bands, Legs has a bright future full of riveting music and a compelling live personality. I sat down with Legs’ singer Tito Ramsey, guitarist Charles Larson, keyboardist Jack Ramsey, and drummer Juan Miguel before one of their Brooklyn shows to try to uncover the secret to their success.
Alright, Legs. Tito, Charles, Jack, Juan… Isn’t there a fifth?
It’s five of us, yeah. My brother [Herman Marin] lives in Lima, so we’re coordinating the project long distance.
That’s quite a distance to cover…
Yeah, but we started the project with him being in New York, and since we’re brothers, these two guys [Tito and Jack] are brothers, Charlie is a brother at heart, so we wanted to keep it in the family.
Now you guys are from Seattle, right? Two of you are at least.
Outside of Seattle: a small town like an hour outside where we [Tito, Jack, Charlie] all grew up.
Then why Brooklyn? Why here?
Tito: Charlie came first out of the three of us.
Charles: No, Jack did.
Tito: Oh yeah, Jack came for music school.
Jack: Yeah, I came out here about nine years ago to go to the New School jazz program. I did that, then I just stayed out here after to try to play some music in the city. Tito moved out here and we all kinda met. Him and Juan met by happenstance…
Juan: Yeah it was some kind of Fourth of July party that both of us were kind of forced to go to, and we had a real good conversation and we realized that we both have brothers in the city and we both wanted to play music and we were on the same page.
Tito: Yeah I came for music, my wife came for art, Charlie, you came for…
Charles: Music. I was playing music back home in Seattle, but… I was bored.
Yeah and you guys had the same musical ideas…
Yeah it was a good vibe, for sure. And just a kind of camaraderie. I had spent a long time in Seattle trying to bring various music projects together. That worked out, and then for whatever reason didn’t continue. But right off the bat this kind of just came together.
How would you summarize Legs in one sentence?
Tito: I would say “interesting dance music.”
Charles: “Music for the body.”
Jack: I would just quote our manifesto: “Music for the body, music that makes you feel something.”
Tito: This is more than one sentence, but I mean we make music that we think will be fun to dance to, that kind of fits like an “indie dance” because we’re… it’s not straight ahead funk. We’re not pulling from the straight-ahead rhythms necessarily, but pulling from all of our interests. Jack studied jazz, Juan has varied, wide interests. When we first started hanging out, he had a huge set up of samplers and loop pedals and sound-making devices, so we incorporated that stuff. And Charlie has just played in a lot of bands, rock bands. He’s a songwriter, has interest in song forms…
Jack: One of the things that speaks to me about the music that we’re doing is that it is music to dance to and to feel good to and bring people together, but because it draws from these different influences, it feels different to me than just house music, or party music. It’s an outlet for other things, and we use language from other genres and make it something that means more as an expression than just house beats, which is a tricky line to walk. Especially writing little sketches of ideas on Garageband, everything I write turns into a house song, and you’re like “dammit, not that again!”
Juan: Not that there’s anything wrong with that music.
Tito: No, no, I actually really enjoy that music.
It’s just not what Legs is about.
Ian: Cool, so it’s dance music… which of you guys is the best dancer?
Tito: Probably me, probably. I don’t see these guys dance a whole lot. Juan has to be seated at the drums.
Charles: I don’t dance? [laughter]
Tito: Charlie moves…
But you [Tito] have to move to engage everybody.
Tito: Yeah it’s definitely part of the show, I think; moving because I’m able to. I don’t have a guitar strapped around me. Jack has two keyboards. I make a point to turn my keyboard so that I’m open to the audience.
Jack: I’m just waiting for the right moment. It’s like in a kung fu movie, you see the guy who’s not moving a whole lot, not fighting, but you wait ’til the end of the movie, he pulls out the best move out of everybody.
Charles: I’m still waiting on that…
Tito: Yeah well it’s not the end of the movie yet, is it?
That’s awesome. So you guys just released a new album; how is it different from your old stuff?
Juan: I think it was kind of an evolution off an EP that we put out in 2013 that was essentially a live EP. We were just going to the studio with the idea to make some demos, but they turned out nice enough that we decided to put them out as an EP. So it’s an evolution—there’s a little more production going into the record—but we’re still very much a band in development. We’re working on tweaks in the studio. We feel very comfortable playing live, so we try to keep it as live as possible without getting too crazy for the computer.
Charles: I think there’s more maturity in our songwriting. The give and the take of playing with one another, and that whole process.
So it’s kind of an organic development over time, that’s cool. I loved your music videos; where do you come up with ideas for that?
Tito: Juan is the major videographer force in the group, being that he produces videos. So “Jungle” came based on a sketch that he made. I work in a barbershop, and it’s a beautiful space, so that was a main trigger for Juan; he was like “if we could do something in there, that would make a great space.” And we have a lot of really great friends in film. Rafael Salazar…
Juan: …Javier Andrade. He did the “High Time” video for us a long time ago. So yeah, we pitch some ideas, we love collaborating with people—friends—when they’re in town. So whenever we can we go for it.
Jack: Yeah I think that’s another really cool thing about this project is that it’s allowed us to collaborate with some really talented people and kind of bring more people into the project, into the whole thing; it’s fun with such talented people.
Awesome. You guys have toured all over the world, including South American and North America; which is your favorite city to play in?
Juan: Seattle was a lot of fun for me. I don’t know though, I think we’ve experienced opposite things, because when we went to play in Seattle I was blown away, and I felt really loved by the Seattle crew.
Jack: It was kind of a homecoming for us. We hadn’t shown the band there yet.
Juan: And then we did the opposite; when we went to record the album in Quito, we went to play a show there and that was very special for me, but I think it was probably a different dimension for you guys because we were playing in a different country, and the idea of that in itself is weird.
Tito: The show we played there… When we went to Ecuador it was like a house party on a rooftop, and just the vibe of the people that were there… not like here. People were amped just to be involved. The party went until like 5 in the morning. It was really cool.
Your guys’ music was featured in the movie “Obvious Child.” How did you pull that off, and how did you feel about how they used your music? Did you see the movie?
Tito: Yeah of course, it was amazing. Juan was involved…
Juan: I was involved; I did the titles and the key art for the festival run, so before it was bought. Through that project for me as a designer I got to know Gillian and Elizabeth, the director and producer, and I think around the same time we were premiering our EP, and I was sharing it—more in terms of “Hey this is my band, just wanted to share the music”—without even thinking that Gillian was going to pick it for the movie. Through that process I had seen different cuts of the movie and was sort of a big fan, so when that came to be it was really awesome.
Yeah, and the song is called “So Obvious,” so it kind of is so obvious that it would be there.
Tito: Yeah, and it’s in one of my favorite scenes of the movie.
So you really like how they used it.
Tito: Yeah. But just to be in there was great.
Juan: It’s sort of like the thing that just happens in New York.
Yeah you meet people and…
Tito: Yeah, and Gillian supported our Kickstarter; it’s been a really nice connection.
Are you playing mostly in New York, or are you going out?
Tito: We’ll do several shows in New York, but trying not to overdo it. We’ll pick and choose the shows that we think’ll be really fun, because we play at a lot of little venues around town. We’re going to Ecuador next month, doing at least three shows out there so that’s a big summer thing. That’ll be, like, the release of the album in Ecuador, and there’s been a lot of support to make the record from Ecuador; social media support from there has been huge, bigger than here in a way.
Juan: …and even press there, in a way, because it’s different. I remember when we were recording the album down there, there were like two or three national TV stations coming to the studio for a little bit, and that sort of stuff gives you exposure that’s harder to get here. Plus there’s a lot of really good things happening in the music scene in Ecuador. There’s a lot of bands, so we kind of feel like we want to be a part of that.
Yeah and it’s cool that you can sort of permeate both the New York and Ecuadorian markets. And the Seattle market…
Tito: Yeah we want to go out there in the Fall… what else are we doing boys?
Jack: We’re playing a little festival upstate called the Wassaic Project. We’re playing that in July.
Juan: And then we wanna get back into writing, to get the new record as ready as possible.
The next record?
Jack: Yeah, we’re pretty diligent about keeping new material ready. We need to keep working.
How many songs do you have ready for that?
Juan: We have a lot of ideas.
Tito: It’s hard to tell at this point what’ll be a song. We record all of our rehearsals, so there’s a lot of material on the table already. Everyone’s got their own little demos at home too, so what’s gonna work actually brought in and played out with the group… There’s always lot of material.
Charles: Which is a good thing.
Jack: Twenty slow jams. [laughter]
Tito: To be a little more specific though, I think one of the big goals actually coming up for the group is just to get everyone singing. At this point it’s a lot of just me, but everyone sings, so I would look forward to that coming up, which I think will actually change the game a little bit for our live show.
Yeah you’ll have harmony and stuff on top of each other. I’m sure it’ll sound great, Atypical Sounds is looking forward to it! Thanks a lot guys!
Tito: Thank you!