Album of the Week: Ziggy Ramo - Sugar Coated Lies | 2023 Week 4

Album of the Week: Ziggy Ramo - Sugar Coated Lies | 2023 Week 4

Award-winning musician, rapper, actor and activist drops powerful sophomore album + new records from Kimbra, Fucked Up, Popcaan and more

We've already talke about our Album of the Week, Ziggy Ramo's powerful new album Sugar Coated Lies, a little bit over here so instead of further giving our thoughts and interpretation of the record, we decided to publish Ziggy's full thoughts on the album and its process - have a read and listen to this incredible album below!

"I wrote the album Sugar Coated Lies in 2018/19 after I moved to Sydney. I had relocated to Sydney after BIGSOUND in 2017 where a label executive had asked me why I was so angry. He was confused by my showcase and further confused by my album Black Thoughts that I was shopping around. I was unable to find anyone to help me get it out in the world. My thought process was that I needed to move from Perth to Sydney to figure out how to do it myself. I wasn’t able to find anyone at the time to help me distribute it, and at the time I still thought you needed a label. I didn’t have many connections, but I didn’t want to sit on my hands so I started to teach myself how to produce. 

That’s how I ended up writing a lot of the demos for Sugar Coated Lies alone in my apartment. These demos laid the groundwork for the album. Once I had had some sessions with other writers and producers I got to work on finishing the record. Through that process I met Lewis Mitchell, and he agreed to come on board to mix, engineer and executive produce the record. I had intended on releasing it in 2020, but ended up shelving it after I had a gut feeling that with or without a label Black Thoughts urgently needed to be out in the world. My focus moved away from Sugar Coated Lies and it sat on my computer. 

That was until the end of 2022. I made my acting and scoring debut in the Stan Original Series Black Snow. When I was asked to come on board for the project in June 2022, what drew me to it was that it was exploring the Australian South Sea Islander experience in a very nuanced way. It was using the genre of murder mystery to help bring to light a darker untold story. This is exactly what I was trying to do in the writing process of Sugar Coated Lies. I took the trauma of coming from slaves and sugar coated it in pop/hip hop so that these untold stories could go far and wide. It’s not only sugarcoating in theory, but also in practice. 

Black Thoughts was explicit and unmissable, whereas Sugar Coated Lies is insidious, and hidden; Australian South Sea Islanders are the forgotten people. My ancestor Kwailiu was stolen and brought to Far North Queensland. That is how my bloodlines crossed, Wik and Solomon Islander. Ramo is my Solomon Islander name, that’s why I carry it as my artist name, I wanted to bring attention to our community’s truth. Over 62,000 South Sea Islanders were enslaved in Australia to establish the sugar industry. A dark stain on our history that we have never meaningfully acknowledged. This is the reason I wanted people to be able to listen to Sugar Coated Lies and miss what is going on underneath the surface. I personified all my feelings about our history into relationship songs. That is why the framing of the record through the artwork became so pivotal. 

I met Jasmine Togo-Brisby while working on Black Snow. Jasmine created the title credits which I had the joy of co-scoring with Jed Palmer. Years earlier my brother had brought Jasmine to my attention for her work called ‘Colonial Sugar’. The image of her art had stuck with me; it was skulls piled on top of each other, and the skulls were made of sugar. It was so evocative and felt like it completely captured the essence of Sugar Coated Lies. So I reached out, and Jasmine was kind enough to create a new skull specifically for this album. On the surface, this album is made up of journal entries, starting and ending with my hospitalization after being on suicide watch. Beneath that lies heavy intergenerational trauma that has sunk its hooks into my every thought and action. I had to go through a lot of therapy to deal with the all-encompassing weight of this intergenerational trauma, and putting it in an album became incredibly therapeutic. 

As I was wrapping up working on Black Snow in November, my brother called me and told me that Sugar Coated Lies needed to be out in the world. Aunty Kaylene Butler, who is an executive producer of Black Snow, has been saying that our story is rising from the cane. There is a reason and a season, and the season is now. So when I got the call from my brother it felt fitting. Black Snow and Sugar Coated Lies were created separately but had become completely connected. I called Lewis and we got back to work on finishing a 4- year-old album. We worked day and night through November, December and January to get it ready. Sugar Coated Lies will be released on January 26th 2023. I don’t put music out to further my career, I put out art that I hope speaks to people. I picked this date to demonstrate that every day is Invasion Day until we deal with what is going on beneath the surface of this fabricated country. – “Sugar Coated Lies and we just wanna dance around it’."

- Ziggy Ramo, 2022

The best of the rest of this week's records:

Bumpy - Morning Sun [Astral People Recordings] AUS

Soul / R&B

Fucked Up - One Day [Merge Records] CAN

Punk / Rock

Jonah Yano - Portrait of a Dog [Innovative Leisure] CAN

Jazz

Kimbra - A Reckoning [KIMBRA] NZL

Pop

 

King Tuff - Smalltown Stardust [Sub Pop] USA

Alternative / Country

Oozing Wound - We Cater To Cowards [Thrill Jockey] USA

Metal

Popcaan - Great Is He [OVO Sound] JAM

Dancehall / R&B

R. Ring - War Poems, We Rested [Don Giovanni Records] USA

Alt Rock

SG Lewis - AudioLust & HigherLove [Virgin Music Australia] ENG

Indie / Pop

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