Interviews

An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Loren Kramar

Saint Audio had the opportunity to speak with indie artist Loren Kramar, about his new single, “Cover Girl.” The track and lyric video is available on YouTube now. Be sure to check out this imaginative artist and his exciting new single! 

What was the inspiration behind “Cover Girl”? 

I’ve always been attracted to stories about ambitious, fraught characters. Show business and the kinds of people who pursue careers in the spotlight fascinate me. Cover Girl was born out of that fascination. It’s a story about my own longing for love and intimacy while simultaneously pursuing the acceptance of an audience. 

“Cover Girl” has this really dreamy feel to it. How did you realize that concept and choose the instrumentals? 

It might sound vague but when I played the demo for my producer, Chris Taylor, I told him I wanted the song to feel the way a lit candle in your house in the middle of the day makes you feel. I consider myself a songwriter and a singer, not a musician. I enjoy making that distinction. So, when I’m working with experienced musicians, I tend to describe my ideas in metaphors or actions that convey attitudes. I remember once telling my drummer, Lemar Carter, that I wanted a section to feel like you’re bumping into someone while walking down the street in a terrible mood. I have ideas for sounds and instruments but my language when talking about them certainly leans toward the abstract. Cover Girl has a familiar, classic pop structure that we wanted to expand upon by only using live instruments and players with really strong individual styles. We were thinking a lot about Elton John’s records from the 70s. We ended up making something that’s sprinkled with flecks of nostalgia without falling too hard into full-blown retro cosplay. 

Can you talk about your influences? 

Nina Simone, Laura Nyro, Tracy Chapman, Randy Newman, and Jose Feliciano are a few of the artists who have played a significant role in the way I think about creating and performing my own music.

What drove the decision to make the video a lyric video?

There was one summer in New York when I went to a private karaoke room with my best friend almost every night. She’d drink Coca-Colas and chain smoke while I sang. The lyric video is a nod to that time and also to the music video I created with animator, Taylor Shields. We treated the sing-a-long lyrics like a “karaoke gif” along with a cartoon microphone. I love the idea of encouraging the listener to sing along with me in a virtual duet.

The most striking part of “Cover Girl” are the vocals. Can you talk about their prominence in the track? Especially the role of a male voice describing what seems like a very female experience? 

I approach songwriting as a singer and performer first. When I started recording with Chris, we were both very clear about creating songs that were vocally driven. We were thinking of people like Jeff Buckley, Mark Hollis, and Adele. God bless Chris for his patience because I’m a hellish perfectionist when it comes to deciding on vocal lines, effects, and melodies.

The song came to me very quickly. Almost all the lyrics arrived in one night. It was only afterwards that I asked myself why I wrote this particular story. I think there is a universality to the experience that I’m singing about— being ambitious, looking for validation, wanting a deep love that goes beyond the fickleness of success. Being a cover girl isn’t about being any one gender. As a cis man, I identify as a cover girl. 

Can you talk about the cover image? The elongated legs are quite striking. How does this connect to the track? 

I’ve always been drawn to caricatures and iconographic portraits of people. In 2014, I had an idea for a photograph of me sitting on a giraffe like a horse where I’d be wearing jeans long enough to touch the ground. That idea turned into sitting in a tree and on the front steps of Hollywood High School. When I wrote “Cover Girl,” I knew I wanted the cover art to be striking and romantic but also full of strangeness. We arrived at a picture that shows someone longing to go beyond their present reality—the legs are the dream of getting there.

What can we look forward to from you in the upcoming year?

More music. More visuals. 

You’ve worked in lots of different areas of the arts (as a visual artist and in conjunction with fashion designers). How do these other mediums contribute to your work in music? 

In addition to writing songs, I make drawings and have art directed photo shoots alongside really wonderful photographers and designers. I have a very strong love for fashion and art. I see my music as an opportunity to put forth my ideas about clothing, photography, humor, and design.

What do you feel is the role of music and art in these trying times of national division and the pandemic? 

Music and art have always played essential roles in culture as tools to share experiences, perspectives, and ideas. The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Oluwatoyin Salau, and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests demand change and acknowledgment of the myriad systems that oppress, discriminate against, and kill black people. This is a time to show support for black people through actions that fight racism—educating, protesting, signing petitions, donating, spreading awareness. This means listening to black people and supporting black businesses, artists, musicians—ALL black people, especially women and LGBTQIA+ folks. While music and art continue to provide profound opportunities for joy and revelation, let’s not forget to constantly examine and question the culture and conditions from which this work is produced. 

From “My Life” in 2015 to now with “Cover Girl,” how would you describe the development of your music? 

“My Life” was the first song I ever recorded in a studio with a producer [Jorge Elbrecht]. Leading up to that experience, I was writing and recording very free-form songs and monologues on GarageBand as well as performing around New York City as a self-declared lounge singer doing covers. By the time I recorded “Cover Girl” with Chris Taylor, I had a bit more experience in the studio thanks to those early sessions with Jorge. I wrote “My Life” with two sad little chords. I think and hope that “Cover Girl” reflects a more confident embrace of live musicianship, collaboration, and my own role as a performer. 

Follow Loren Kramar on Spotify.

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