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What makes Loren Kramar’s music beautiful is his voice: warm and confident , all glamor and ease and big, dramatic melody. What makes Loren Kramar great, though, is his sense of love and spectacle. Like Father John Misty or Lana Del Rey, Loren Kramar celebrates and indicts the complex mess that is fame, performance, passion, and art. He arrives to Secretly Canadian as the spotlit star of his Hollywood story, ascendant and armed with his best and most generous music to date.
“Hollywood Blvd” begins this new chapter. It is Kramar’s thesis statement, embodying his dreams and squaring up against his doubts. “It is a spell,” says Kramar, “an incantation to make what’s real in my mind real in the world. In some ways it has nothing to do with Hollywood or show business. Hollywood is just the costume the song wears to tell a story about wanting to believe that what you do has value.” Still, “Hollywood Blvd” seems to land like a perfect audition because it is, simultaneously, the attempt and the success all at once. He describes it as “What if, what if, what if?” crashing into “It is! It is! It is!” “What if this happened,” says Kramar, “and also, it’s happening right now.
“It’s a song about aspiration in all its ridiculousness,” he continues, “there’s almost a self-created fanfic that comes with imagining oneself as a star. It’s a coping mechanism,” he says, “against insecurity and shame– that I am enough, that I have value as a person outside of being an artist, that I can make art freed from superficial feelings of value and affirmation.”
That tangle of celebration and validation – who gets it, who gives it, who feels it and why – is on full display here. It is matched with horns, bells, and Kramar’s gorgeous voice singing crowd work to the front and double-dog dares to the very back row.
Loren Kramar grew up in Encino in the San Fernando Valley, where his decidedly non-industry family was surrounded by the art and artifice of Los Angeles. Everywhere he looked there were dazzling possibilities and dizzying stakes– judgment, rejection, attention, fame and tragedy, all of it public and oh so near, sometimes literally next door. The proximity made Kramar’s dreams of a creative life seem achievable. He started singing and writing music when he was a child; he wrote a holiday album at ten years old, and spent friday nights on the Warner lot with his best friend and her parents. Kramar joined choir and immersed himself in theater and dance. In high school, Kramar had a teenaged band and a teenaged manager, and they’d drive starry-eyed to LA’s beloved studios for a glimpse or a guided tour. Anything to peek behind that curtain.
Kramar went on to study fine art and his music became more conceptual, spoken word pieces that were more about their performance than about what got put to tape. “There have been these fractured identities,” says Kramar, “and they have always felt very real, but they were pieces of me. They were exclusive, private, they felt like they had to be.”
When Kramar began to record what would become his next collection of songs, the approach was “speak now, once and for all.” There had already been false starts and failures to launch, almost-breaks that almost broke him, and so there could be no middle, no half-measures. The music became urgent, an act of love for himself and anyone who’s been through it. “My friend used the word ‘permission’ and it’s a word that I love,” Kramar says. “I would hope, really hope, that a person listens and feels emboldened to be truthful with themselves. That they think ‘I cannot spend another minute denying my feelings, my ambitions, my anger or my dreams. No more of that.’”
After all this, Loren Kramar arrives with the crackling aliveness of a person who nearly flatlined. And so if Kramar’s story is a true Hollywood story, it’s one of triumph. It’s Rocky II, It’s Dirty Dancing: a silver-screen dreams-come-true tale filled with drama, a little love, a little sex, and just the right sparkle in just the right places.
There are currently no tour dates for Loren Kramar