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Pride in the Name of Electro Pop
Long Beach's Century Blue Project Erasure to Please
Marss Ramos of "alt-house/techno-punk" band Century Blue Project makes music about life rather than lifestyles.
What is Century Blue Project?
Century Blue Project started as a side project for me. I was in a group called Digital Soldiers, which was a . . . we call it Europop, but we're not from Europe. Maybe pop would be the word, or electronic pop. I did that for 12 years and decided that I wanted to do something a little different. When Digital Soldiers broke up, it was the perfect opportunity. I kept recording and writing stuff. I eventually met up with "Stubs" [Esteban Ramirez], the guitarist of our group, at a benefit show at the Disneyland resort. We just really clicked. We had a different idea of what dance music could be. It didn't all have to be electronic and pop. It could also have some guitar and sound a little bit different. When it was time to start performing, we needed another vocalist. I'd performed previously with Lorie Madison, and it just took off from there. So Century Blue Project is a collective of three: two vocalists and one guitarist.
How do you re-create your music live?
We work with a producer in the studio, and at this point, we use live guitar over tracks and live lead and backing vocals. It's similar to something Erasure or Eurythmics would have done—backing tracks out of a computer.
How do you describe Century Blue Project's sound?
We describe our music as similar to Europop, or pop from the '80s with a modern edge to it. We haven't found a name for how we describe our music. There's a punk-rock and ska influence combined with dance music. It's a little bit of everything. I think that's the way music is heading now, too. That's something the Internet has done. You don't have to be in a specific genre anymore for someone to like your music. Someone out there is going to like what you're doing.
Despite the number of bands and musicians around here, do you find that your two-singer-guitar-player-plus-laptop setup is unique?
It is. At the Long Beach Pride show, there weren't any artists that performed the way that we did. There isn't anyone I've seen with the same type of setup we have, so it does make us a little bit unique. We stand out a little bit when we get onstage.
Are people open-minded to your uniqueness?
I believe so. We get good responses at the shows we've done. The first show we did was actually in Tucson, Arizona. They were very accepting of what we were doing. Most of the acts on that lineup were either, like, lip-synching drag queens or national acts. It was a range of artists, but we were very appreciated.
In your group's MySpace bio, it said you started by playing the "Pride Circuit."
We did that in Digital Soldiers, so I had connections to those. They book 15, 20 acts in a day, so they need something easy to set up. We got to play in Long Beach about three weeks ago, which is the second-largest Pride [event] in California.
While that gives you an audience, does it also create a situation in which some people might be predisposed against your band?
It hasn't yet, anyway. That's where I got my start. We've done a couple of local "straight bars." They've been accepting of the music. It's not a genre of music for a certain type of people. It's just dance music. If you go to Pride shows, you'll find national artists. It's not a specific type of artist or music. What these events are about is acceptance of everything, whether you're gay or straight, black or white. It's very accepting of culture and music. Those types of events are one of the most welcoming places we've performed.
Does your band self-identify as gay music?
Century Blue Project started as a side project and wasn't meant to be labeled. My last group was definitely labeled because all three of the artists are gay. In this one, Stubs is straight, so we don't want to put a label on it, and we hope not to be labeled. The songs are about everything. It's about life and not a specific type of lifestyle.
For more information, visit www.myspace.com/centuryblueproject.