By Michael Aushenker
“We either get ‘Japanese war cry’ or ‘feng shui,’” drummer Gabby Pozon, 19, says of what people guess is the meaning behind the name of her band, RAMEKEGA, who travel from San Bernardino tonight to rock The Talking Stick in Venice.
What the name really has become is a mantra for this band of four sisters — headed by chief singer and lyricist Kelli Pozon, 24, and eldest sister Melissa, 26 — sticking together in the aftermath of a family tragedy.
RAMEKEGA emerged from a defining moment in 2007, when Marie Pozon, mother of the band members, died of a brain aneurism. While the older sisters had already begun noodling on writing music, their parent’s sudden death galvanized the girls to turn to the therapeutic properties of music for solace. The creative process quickly gained momentum when the Pozons decided to form a band.
RAMEKEGA hit the road later that year playing all-original material in shows through Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, including stops at The Talking Stick and the Tenth and California open mic night in Santa Monica.
In 2008 they recorded their first album, “Me and My Shadow.”
The Chino Hills outfit released its second album, “Normalcy,” in 2010, which was also produced by their father, Rey Pozon, a skilled sound engineer.
“I’m the one who got roped in!” Rey said.
The band also recently added a fourth member — Rey’s youngest daughter, Kaira, who is only 10.
Kaira received a bass guitar on her eighth birthday in 2011 and “she picked it up really quickly,” Kelli said.
When RAMEKEGA last played the Talking Stick, Kaira impressed bassist John Cartright, who has performed with Harry Belafonte, with her playing. Martin Yardborough of Earth, Wind and Fire has also enjoyed the band.
The amount of new material these young ladies create together could easily fill another five albums. For now, they plan to settle for a dozen tracks when they re-enter the studio with Dad to record their as-of-yet untitled third release this spring. Lyrics of those new songs, Kelli said, will continue to address “love and dreams.” Rey added that his daughters play their songs in one take to try to capture their live sound.
Despite their age, the Pozon sisters seem disinterested in the Biebers, Cyruses and Gagas of the day. They’ve inherited Rey’s musical DNA — via his ‘70s record collection — and light up when talking about The Beatles, The Bee-Gees, ABBA, Pat Benatar and The Carpenters. Kelli also name-checks Gershwin and Porter. When pressed for contemporary music they enjoy, Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse and Plain White Tees pop up. RAMEKEGA may very well be the youngest musicians on record to gush over meeting Peter Frampton, which they did at a Guitar Center earlier this year.
Kelli chalks up their old-soul musical taste to how melodic the bands of the 1970s were.
“They were more innocent, more joyful. All they wanted to do is sing,” she said.
Much like RAMEKEGA themselves, it appears.
In addition to their mother’s passing and their band, the sisters have bonded during home-schooling, first under the direction of their parents, but now they home-school each other. They read Marvel and DC Comics but also enjoy Dickens, Dumas and especially Austen.
Although described by Kelli as an objective and sometimes tough critic, her father expressed pride in his family’s musical accomplishments.
Rey said he knew something serious was happening when strangers began connecting with RAMEKEGA’s original tunes. Last time the sisters performed at the Talking Stick, they were told to keep playing and the concert ran on until 2 a.m. On Jan. 9, The band will perform on the local Filipino television program “Kababayan Today.”
“When I see them up there, I know they’re my kids,” Rey said, “but they’re somebody else I don’t really know!”
Long supportive of their professional goals, he now wants his daughters to go forward without looking back.
“You can’t un-jump a cliff,” he said. “You’ve got to go for it.”
As for what exactly RAMEKEGA means, it’s an amalgam of initials from each girl’s name — originally created as their password to play the “Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego?” video game online. Once again, four sisters sticking together.
RAMEKEGA play from 7 to 11:45 p.m. (or longer) tonight at The Talking Stick, 1411 Lincoln Blvd., Ste. C, Venice. Call (310) 450-6052 or visit ramekega.com.