One of the cornerstones of being a DJ is reading your audience, and nobody knows how to get a crowd going like Ace Ramos. With 20 years of experience under his belt, it comes as no surprise that The Palace DJ is steadily growing his influence internationally. Whether he’s spinning at a warehouse throwdown in Jakarta or a beach rave in Phuket, Ace Ramos brings his A game wherever the music takes him. As Heineken and /ESCAPE’s DJ of the month, we sit down with Ace Ramos and find out how he’s taking over the world one gig at a time.
/ESCAPE: How did you get your start as a DJ?
Ace Ramos: I come from a musically-inclined family. Francis Magalona had a DJ, DJ MOD, and I saw him on TV one day at a DJ competition and thought I really wanted to be like him. I’ve been playing the piano since I was a kid so it wasn’t hard for me to become a DJ.
Who are the artists you look up to the most?
AR: DJ-wise, I look up to Avicii. He likes to experiment with his music, like how he made country collaborations in his last album. At first people hated it, but pretty soon people followed suit.
What can a clubber expect from a typical Ace Ramos set?
AR: Depends on where I’m playing. If I’m in a big room like Valkyrie Nightclub, they can expect me to play what they want to hear, but sometimes I like to goof around and play something unexpected, like Macarena. Just last Saturday I played The Backstreet Boys! Some people might find it baduy, but as long as majority of the crowd is singing along and having fun, I’m good with that.
How have your roots shaped your music?
AR: I’m rooted in hip hop and R&B, but I play whatever the trend is. We cater to the mainstream people and Filipinos are very westernized so they want to hear what’s “in”. Whenever I’m driving my car, that’s when I play the music that I really want, but if I’m at a club, I’ll play what the people want.
What’s the music culture of the country and where is it going?
AR: Like I said, it’s very westernized—it’s kinda like fashion where things go in and out of style. Before, bands were huge, then acoustic became popular, then hip hop, then EDM and all these big DJ music festivals started all over the country. Now EDM’s simmering down a bit, hip hop is coming back, it always changes.
How will you open your music to other cultures especially since you’re going global?
AR: There are a lot of Filipino producers that are great at what they do, so whenever I’m out of the country I make sure I play some local tracks.
Around the world, you’ll be exposed to a lot of cultures. How do you stay true to your roots?
AR: I’m actually hoping someday I can make an electronic track but using local instruments and give it that local flavor. That would be great.
How well are Filipinos being represented in the international music scene?
AR: I think we’re one of the best. But the problem is, instead of pushing for what’s ours, we tend to absorb what’s already out there and what’s “in”. Koreans love their music, the Japanese love their music, but why is there a stigma when it comes to Filipino music?
Now that you’re going international? Which culture do you plan on exploring?
AR: Japan. I find the Japanese people very pensive and interesting.
What’s your take on the Manila nightlife scene?
AR: We’re one of the best. The US is known for its party scene but clubs have a curfew! We don’t have that here.
Do you think local talent has what it takes to go global?
AR: Of course. 100%.
How many cities have you performed in internationally?
AR: I’ve performed in Dubai, San Francisco, LA, Singapore, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, Phuket, a lot so far.
What’s it like playing to a foreign crowd?
AR: Foreign crowds are fun! Local crowds can get boring sometimes because when there aren’t a lot of people on the dancefloor we get shy or get up and leave. Foreign crowds don’t really care if there aren’t a lot of people and dance when they’re really feeling the music. Here some people go out just to be seen.
What qualities must a DJ have in order to succeed internationally?
AR: You gotta have the right attitude and a good PR team. And you should know how to market yourself. If you don’t know how to do that, make sure you get somebody that does. But the most important of them all is attitude.
What’s your next step career-wise?
AR: Investing in partnerships. Right now I have one with The Nines PH and The Palace. You really have to think long-term. I’d also like to start my own club. I’ve been in this industry for almost 20 years, so I think I have a good idea of what goes on.
Describe your dream gig.
AR: If I can play in Tomorrowland, why not?
The life of a DJ is equal parts glamour and hard work. What keeps you going every day?
AR: When I started, of course I did it just for fun, but once I got out of school and stopped getting an allowance I really had to make it into a livelihood. It’s a way for me to save money for the future.
Fill in the blank: Music is ___________.
AR: Music is life.
We heard you love basketball. Could you tell us your favorite team?
AR: The New York Knicks.
How do usually cool down after an intense set?
AR: I hit up some friends I see at the club and enjoy a bottle of beer while catching up.
What does success mean to you?
AR: If you’re happy in life. It’s not about the material stuff, as long as you’re content, I think that in itself makes you successful.
Got a message for your loyal fans?
AR: Thank you for letting me do what I do.
What is your favorite /ESCAPE?
AR: I wasn’t a beach guy before but since I went to Siargao I think I’ve changed my mind. It’s so quiet and nice!
Ace Ramos, how do you Live Your Music?
AR: I make sure to always go hard at every set I play, wherever I am. My music will always be here as long as I’ve got a crowd willing to listen. Seeing people enjoy themselves is what keeps me going.
Produced and edited by Dan Buenaventura (@danbuen)
Photography by Karlo Torio (@karlotorio)
Words by Kimberly Lynch (@kimberlynch)
Styling by Kaye Pernia (@kayepernia)
Clothing pieces by The Nines PH (www.thenines.ph)
Stay updated on every Ace Ramos gig on Instagram via @djaceramos.
To know more about the Live Your Music campaign, follow Heineken on Instagram @heineken_ph. #GoingGlobalWithAceRamos #ESCAPExHeinekenMusic #LiveYourMusic