Music News

For Pete's Sake

Long before 22-year-old Efren Ramirez was getting three feet of air on his Sledgehammer or making all of Preston High School's wildest dreams come true as Pedro Sanchez in Napoleon Dynamite, he was lugging crates of records around Los Angeles for his older brothers. Though he was well underage and forbidden to enter the clubs where they were spinning, his brothers rewarded his back-breaking labor by schooling him on the tables and letting him watch them in secret. That experience spawned a production company -- Nocturnal Rampage -- that Ramirez oversees with his friends, which led to raves, parties and a juggling act of deejaying and acting. On top of filming roles with Jack Black, Snatch's Jason Statham and the infamous Daniel Baldwin, as well as appearing in the music video for the Ashlee Simpson single "Boyfriend," in 2005 Ramirez launched his Vote for Pedro Party Tour, which has sent him zigzagging across the country to emcee and deejay. Each stop on the tour features a Napoleon Dynamite look-alike contest and dance-off, a ceremonial piñata-breaking at midnight and the presentation of a personalized cake to the night's hottest girl. Oh, and Efren plays music, too.

Westword: What kind of music do you play on the tour, and how do you choose your set each night?

Efren Ramirez: For my raves in Los Angeles, we used a drum machine and a keyboard as well as vinyl, and we liked to do stuff live. When I travel, I don't carry my equipment. So if the club prefers hip-hop, of course I do hip-hop. And if the club likes house music, I'll tear it up with house music. It's not about what I'm going to choose. It's always about the music; I got that from the rave scene. You have to feel it. You have to cater to the crowd. If the crowd wants polka, I'm going to play polka. You just have to feel the people.

Why do the DJ tour now, when your acting career is starting to take off?

I'm so grateful and thankful to everyone who watched Napoleon Dynamite. It changed my career -- it's amazing. So when I have time, I like to stop by the clubs and deejay. Why not? If you're really cool with everybody, people have a good response to that. There should be a connection. And not just by saying, "Well, I have to keep my status up." Fuck that. It's not about status. It's about being cool with everyone.

What's more fun for you -- acting or deejaying?

Acting is my passion. I love the art of creating films. But deejaying is good, too. It reminds me of theater, because you're on stage and you're creating something. And whatever vibes you feel in that moment, that's your next move -- that's your next record.

What's on your iPod these days?

One second I'm listening to the Beatles, the next, Kanye West. Then, I'll move from the Doors to Pearl Jam to Interpol. There's so much quality music out there.

Who decides on who the hottest girl will be to receive your cake each night?

I let all the guys in the club handle that. You get some girls on stage and go, "All right, guys, is she hot?" Yeah, dude. They can have the cake and eat it, too.