They caught each other's eyes across the room at church, became separated by geography, reconciled at a coffee shop in Nashville 4 years later, formed a band, got married, and have just released the kind of new album (Diamonds) that's sure to follow fans of passionate, folk-pop around all summer long. Meet Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramierz; the passionate, joyful, and energetic duo who go by the rather sleek moniker, Johnnyswim. We released a zealous new session with these lovebirds earlier this week. Learn a little more about their story with our in-depth interview.
- In the wake of every heartache In the death of every fear There were diamonds, diamonds waiting to break out of here Don't you think I hear the whispers - I grew up in Los Angeles, California. A little bit of Los Angeles, a little bit in New York and then a bunch of Nashville, and that's where I met this guy. - We met in Nashville. I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida from zero to 18 and had to find somewhere else to go in order to pursue, pursue music 'cause it wasn't gonna happen in Jacksonville for me. Well, I grew up on the west side of Jacksonville so it's very much it's own little community. I grew up two blocks from the Rodeo. The first week, we moved in to the neighborhood where the first people of color and the hood. We had a burning cross to walk 'em us in the yard. - The coming to the real story. - This just got real. - I'm sorry. We saw each other across a crowded room at church one Sunday morning and I got really nervous and avoided him for four years. - My side of that story is I was sitting next to a girl I was trying to date. Real story. I see a man to get up and I literally say out loud, "That's the girl I'm gonna marry. " The girl I'm sitting next to that I'm trying to date. - Did not like it? - Jazzed me in the ribs of her elbow, she said, "You better go talk to her. " - I thought, "You know what, absolutely should. " So I get up to talk to Amanda, get about this far away from her, she looks me in the eye for a second, rolls her eyes, and I sink into my seat. That's exactly what happened. I didn't see her again for four years. - I was looking for an exit because I'd seen him... Well I, I had seen him and he's always with like these girls- very popular and cool, and I was like, "Meeh. If he likes them, he's not gonna think I'm fun at all. " So I just decided I would avoid him at all cost, so I saw him walking towards me and I just thought, "I'm not gonna say anything smart so I'm gonna walk away. " - So I walked away and then four years later we met at a coffee shop. I just stopped going to church. - This one. I ruined her. - No, I actually moved to New York after that and so we were, we were separated by geography as well. - Ooh. Four years later, a friend of ours introduces us at a, at a coffee shop in Nashville. A couple accepted that on Myspace. I invited her to a concert of mine in Nashville as a solo artist at the time. She came up to me afterwards again, this is the most beautiful girl in the planet earth that I was committed to cyber stalking for decade almost. No, for four, five years I was cyber stalking her. She comes up to me after the show and says, "Would you want to get together to write a little bit?" And I of course saw that 100% is an opportunity to be alone in a closed space. So, I bought flowers and champagne. I think I brought a guitar that day. But it was all just a ruse to get her alone. Nothin', I don't think that day. - I don't think anything that day. I think we kinda finished some other like, random songs and we just kind of hang out and then we started making out, just-- - I just look at her mouth the whole time. - Oh my God! - Ohhh, you need you some home Yeah you, said you need you some home Her name was Peggy Sue And her daddy hung the moon In her eyes, he could do no wrong - The album "Diamonds" is a journey with us for about three years. We wrote, a couple of piece realistic, couple of piece in last three years. But Diamonds is the journey of laws, of really the beginning of a carer of it. Not just being we do on the side of serving coffees at Starbucks but it's the, it's our livelihood now. The highs, the lows and I think that's why even as many were saying we took a lot of time on the sequence of the album, the songs in the album but it's, I wouldn't say it's a diary, but it's as honest as we can be. It's... Each song is a song we had to write. There's nothing on it that we wrote as a single or that we wrote because radio would like it or because somebody else or 'cause our neighbor told us we need a song like this or that. - They're either cathartic or therapeutic for us as a couple or as individuals. - Even as we put the album together, we wanted it to feel like a journey, and we've gone through a bunch in the past three years. We both lost a parent, I lost my grandmother as well. All within about ten months and, and so we went through this, this journey together. We were both experiencing loss and also spending all the time thinking what we wanted our own legacy to be, and what we wanted our lives to be because suddenly you're faced with the fact that, "Oh, we're not gonna live forever. " And, what do we want our marriage to be, what do we want our songs to be, what do we want to be remembered for, what do we want our kids to know about us, you know, if something should happen to us, you know and they listen to our record like, what do we wish that we could tell them, you know? - Yeah, and I think, even the title of the album, "Diamonds" is really a statement that we've committed to as a family and as a musical duo that whatever we go through, whatever hard times come, they're gonna make us... Those things are gonna make us better, not worst, just like a diamond, cold gets crushed and under the pressure becomes a diamond. - I'm a diamond In the rough and wild You're a heart that's just too wild and and free I am looking for a hand to hold me You're just looking for a chance to bring me to my knees - We were... I remember like, playing the first show together, we were so excited to play this like, tiny little room next to a bar in Nashville and there's like, it's actually a venue but we weren't even in the main venue. It was like the, like a makeshift. - The acoustic lounge. - Yeah, a like in a makeshift stage. - And the guy introduced us a "Jimmy swings" - Yah, yah, and, and we still have fun. - In their first ever concert, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, "Jimmy swings" - Yes, so we've, you know, we've really enjoyed the process the whole way and there has really the... I think there was maybe one moment in time where we didn't know what to do next so we're kinda like playing shows. You know, we're, we're trying to make, to, to do this as long as possible what do we do next. And we've definitely had a bunch of those crossroads but no, I don't know that there has been a part that we haven't really enjoyed and I think the big part of that is that we're together and we clearly like each other and want to be together when we wanna get married. - I hope when people hear especially this album, I hope they're encouraged when they hear Diamonds, I hope that everybody's got a moment, something in their life that they're pushing through, that can either, that there's a countless choice as it's gonna make you better, you're gonna kinda just settle under this weight of life or whatever. And I hope you learn courage, I hope people cry at the sad songs. I want, I dream of people listening to this album and fully enjoying the journey. The highs and lows, the agony, the breakthrough, the greatness, the whatever like just, in every song that they find their own story within it, that's what I hope. You'd like to be less than a wounded soul like me That's what you'll get fallin' for me - Hey, we're Johnnyswim. - And you're watching Baeble Music.
Los Angeles-based duo Johnnyswim has been selected as VH1s first-ever "You Oughta Know +" artist. The husband and wife team will receive long-term video support for their single "Heart Beats" and participate in VH1s Creative Music Integration initiative, where their music will be placed into a selection of VH1 programs. The duo will also be highlighted in custom on-air promotional spots, included in the "Top 20 Video Countdown" and numerous other VH1 outlets. Visit http://www.vh1.com/music/you_oughta_know/johnnyswim/main.jhtml for more information.
Heart Beats, the highly anticipated new music from Johnnyswim, is available now on the independent label Big Picnic Records. The 6-song EP, which is currently #8 on iTunes New Artist Chart, follows the couples first release Home, Vol. 1 (2008) that garnered critical praise from The Tennessean explaining they "complement each other in both tone and aesthetic." Furthermore, the twosome was invited to perform on the "Today Show" stage in Charleston to promote the citys Spoleto Festival. See the performance here: http://on.today.com/13TnNSZ. To support the release, the pair performed at Bonnaroo and will continue to tour throughout the summer. See below for details.
Johnnyswim is Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez. Sudano was exposed to music at a young age with musicians as parents, while Ramirez studied music at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in his native Jacksonville, Florida. Now based in Los Angeles, by way of Nashville, the two began writing and singing together in 2006 with similar influences of folk, soul, and rock. Of the new music Ramirez notes, "We wanted to honor some of the voices that have helped us find our own. Not just musically. A lot of the lyrical content was inspired by words and stories of ones we love. From 'Adelina, a song about the life of my mother, to 'Heart Beats, written during the time when Amanda lost her ownwe hope that every moment on this EP is colored with honesty and authenticity."