Known in real life as the versatile multi-instrumentalists Dina Maccabee (also known as the violist for Julia Holter) and Jesse Olsen Bay (award-winning composer for dance and theater), Ramon & Jessica has been crafting their trademark offbeat sensibility and sweet vocal harmonies since their 2004 self-titled folk duo debut album, and each is also an accomplished songwriter with multiple solo albums. We developed complexity in our collaboration on the 2006 album Handyman’s Honeymoon, followed by 2012’s Fly South, released on PortoFranco Records, which featured a superb cast of musical guests. In 2012 we started down a rabbit hole of ambitious music for voices without instruments, creating virtuosic interlocking a cappella duets like their show-stealing Nick Drake cover “Free Ride,” and a ballet score in collaboration with San Francisco choreographer Amy Seiwert that earned a Meet The Composer award and an Isadora Duncan Award nomination.

Our work is driven by experimentation, challenging conventional forms, structures and aesthetics; expression, using lyrics and music to honestly and critically address our own experiences and observations; and minimalism, using the simplest possible tools to achieve our musical ends. We strive to elicit enjoyment, reflection, and surprise as we challenge listener’s expectations of what can be addressed within the scope of a single song, lyric, or melody. Our deeply collaborative creative process results in a sound that differs greatly from either of our individual work. Often subverting gendered vocal roles, our voices blend in intricate harmonies that draw on traditional American music, outsider pop, and experimentalist composers.

Sponsored by San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, our most recent creation is a collaboration with Berkeley’s Just Theater called Roses are Blue. Building on R&J’s irreverent mixing of folk, experimental, and children's music, this a cappella theater piece for 6 singers and narrator used Getrude Stein’s 1939 children’s book The World is Round as a springboard to create an intimate, all-ages production.

We have performed throughout the U.S., presented in the San Francisco Bay Area by Switchboard Music Festival, Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, Climate Theater’s Music Box series, and the U.C. Berkeley Redwood Grove, among many others, and garnering attention from local media including East Bay Express, SF Weekly, KALX Berkeley, KZSU Stanford, KALW, and The Bay Bridged.