In music reviews and band profiles, the term “cult following” is normally used to describe an artist who has a small but dedicated following.
Columbus musician Michael Ramey said that with his solo project, Golden Death Music, he encountered a different kind of cult following.
In the earlier stages of the project, Ramey accompanied new musical releases with a satirical 13-step program to enlightenment, called the “13 Quessions.” To go along with the musical releases and writings, Ramey had his friend John Mallet produce trippy illustrations to go along with them.
“It started because my uncle got involved in a cult, where he thought the leader could like, talk to dolphins and he had this notepad … and if he wrote questions on it and went to sleep, when he woke up, God would have written the answers on the notepad,” Ramey said. “[The cult leader] had a fair amount of people who believed in him … [my aunt and uncle] ended up owing a lot of money to [the cult] and that’s kind of what inspired the whole cult aspect.”
Ramey said he thought the comedic element of “13 Quessions” would be obvious to listeners, so he was surprised when he started receiving letters and emails from people searching for guidance in their life.
“Ultimately, [that] was a little too scary for me, [so] I did away with that part of it,” Ramey said. “I think that element of mystery was what people responded to, because I was also intentionally a lot more obscure in my communications and everything … I think [that was] a little more interesting than a dad with an office job recording in the kitchen of his studio apartment.”
After abandoning the cult persona, Ramey continued to release solo music as Golden Death Music while performing and touring with his other bands around South America and the United States.
“It’s frustrating sometimes being in bands just because you have to coordinate so many people’s schedules and you have to have the right combination of musical taste and dedication,” Ramey said. “The writing [for Golden Death Music] is just me. No one else touches any of it, the videos or anything. It’s all me, for better or worse.”
Ramey wrote and released two Golden Death Music EPs this year, “Ghosts of Iron” and “Deadly Weather,” featuring the lush, psychedelic tones that define Raney’s sound.
In addition to the two EPs, Ramey has been working on recording a full-length Golden Death Music album in the little free time he has between working an office job and raising his newborn son.
“I finally have all the equipment and instruments together that I need to communicate what I’ve been going for throughout the previous releases,” Ramey said. “I feel like what I’m working on now is probably going to be the best, most definitive statement of this Golden Death Music thing.”