Abner Ramirez almost got himself into trouble when I asked him how long he and Amanda Sudano have been married.
“Great question, let me do the math,” said Ramirez during a phone interview. He paused briefly, stalling for time. “Eight years.”
But he’s unsure. “No! Nine years!” he corrected. But that still didn’t seem right. “Eight years?”
I hear Sudano answer for him. “Eight years,” she said.
Sudano and Ramirez, together, are the music duo Johnnyswim. The two formed a partnership in 2005. The couple’s first gig was certainly a memorable one.
“We were introduced as ‘Jimmy Swings,’” said Ramirez. “So the first thing I ever said into a microphone as Johnnyswim was, ‘Actually, we’re Johnnyswim.’”
That slight hiccup didn’t deter the two artists, thankfully. It’s a day the couple looks back upon fondly. Four years after their first gig, Ramirez and Sudano married. They enjoy the dynamic marriage brings to a Johnnyswim show.
“For us, it’s just really a lot of fun,” said Sudano. “There aren't too much cons about it. We sing a lot of love songs, a lot of breakup songs. So even if we’re really mad at each other, we go onstage and we can’t really stay mad at each other for very long.”
By the end of the show, they’re back to how they were before an argument or a disagreement. Going to the show might just be the best way to forget little disputes between couples. While I was speaking with the duo during a phone interview, Ramirez commented that he needed a show at that very instant.
No, he wasn’t in trouble for almost forgetting how long the two had been married. Ramirez admitted he was acting a little too lazy around the house. Sudano asked her spouse to write a letter for his mother for Mother’s Day.
“I said, ‘No, not right now. I’m watching my show,’” said Ramirez. I could hear Sudano laughing in the background. “So now I need to write her a song.”
In relationships, partners often adopt certain roles or duties. Onstage and offstage, the couple will take on responsibilities. One will be take charge of booking hotels and making travel plans; the other will arrange the band’s set list.
“It’s a true collaboration,” said Ramirez.
One person’s strengths can balance another’s weaknesses or negate them entirely. The writing process, Sudano said, is always give and take.
“On a higher, more ethereal level, I think Abner is super, super passionate all the time… except for when he’s watching his show,” said Sudano with a laugh. “And I’m much more of an introvert and much more quiet. I feel that comes out in our music. We build off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
They worked together seamlessly. Ramirez said that's because he and Sudano are the youngest in their families.
“Our perspectives of the world are really similar in that we bend way before we break,” he said. “We are much happier to have the world be this [moldable] substance, this enigma that you really don’t care to solve. We don’t spend a whole lot of time trying to solve problems.
“We’ve learned through being the babies of the family that life is an adventure. You have to learn to brace the adventure. For that reason, we work really well together.”
Sudano added, “When you’re the baby of the family, you have older siblings sort of showing you the ropes and showing you what should be done.”
There was a safety net, of sorts. Ramirez and Sudano both grew up with three older sisters – Sudano, in fact, is the daughter of singer Donna Summer and composer Bruce Sudano. Having that reassurance, has allowed both artists to try new things and be adventurous.
When it comes to work ethic, Ramirez and Sudano work best when there’s a short deadline. As long as they’re working together, they know the work will get done. Sudano said the motto on the road is “teamwork makes the dream work.”
“When it comes to our career, I think our motto is ‘never ever, ever, ever, ever give up,’” said Ramirez. “We’ve always been happy to work. We love to work. It’s not about fame, it’s not about fortune. We just love to work. It’s about each other.”