Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez
Growing up, most of us have no say in where we live. We live where are parents do and because of that we are somewhat forced to be influenced by our initial surroundings. Forced is a strong word, but that’s the reality but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Locale has a lot to do with how we view the world and whether or not you ever leave that hometown – it’s up to the individual, but those that do branch out get the opportunity to be influenced by a variety of places and when it comes to music and his sound, Todd Lewis Kramer pulled from where his parents put down roots and his new found home, Brooklyn, when he started writing and recording his latest, Fairground. We talked to him about his locational influences, his musical ones as well, what can be found on his latest release and so much more in this new interview.
Kendra: Seeing that you started writing songs back in high school, what changes have you noticed lyrically from then to now?
Todd Lewis Kramer: I think when I started writing songs, it was just the most basic, trite writing you could do. When I was starting out it was all about just finishing the song, and I’m sure lyrically they suffered because of it. And believe me, I’m no wordsmith now and it can take me a long time to come up with a song full of (in my opinion) strong lyrics, but I definitely give a lot more thought to what I’m saying, which I imagine translates into stronger/better lyrics. I’m also more than 10 years older now than I was then, so I definitely have a lot more experience to draw from.
“I Want Your Love”
Kendra: I’ve asked this to some other artists, because I’m still trying to understand – what is so great about the Beatles? Furthermore, how did they influence your writing?
Todd: The Beatles are pioneers in pop music, and clearly they knew what people wanted to hear, which is interesting to me. I think it’s sometimes underrated how hard it is to know what the masses want (maybe I’m alone in thinking that). And then to execute it like they did and do it that prolifically, that’s also amazing. I’m not sure how much they influenced my actual sound, but I certainly listened to them a lot with my family growing up. That’s just my two cents, though.
Kendra: On your latest Fairground, you said you drew inspiration from not only Brooklyn where you call home now, but also where you grew up in Connecticut. When listening, is it obvious which songs are inspired by each place?
Todd: Hmm, that’s an interesting question. I guess sonically, the overall sound of the record would probably more reflect the small town I’m from than the big city I live in now. But most, if not all of these songs were written in New York City — even when I’m reflecting maybe on my past– so I think my years living here since college and making that jump to “adulthood” had a huge impact on all these songs. So, to answer your question, I guess there’s a little bit of both in all of them.
Kendra: Fairground was the street you grew up on. What’s the most fondest memory you have from your childhood playing out there?
Todd: Hmm. Actually this will probably strike you as pretty random, but I used to host a weekly football game with some friends from Junior High School in my backyard. It’s making me laugh thinking about it now, but we took it pretty seriously, even had some injuries out there. That was a great time, even though I quickly realized a career as an athlete wasn’t in the cards for me.
Kendra: I personally thought it was an homage to a county fair or something, but it’s not. However, if you had to compare your album to a signature county fair food, which would it most be like and why?
Todd: I guess my sound is a little bit bittersweet, so something along those lines. Maybe dark chocolate covered strawberries? They must have those at county fairs, right?
Kendra: The idea behind “Tennessee” is beautiful to me; embracing what life throws at you. When did you learn to embrace, rather than let it tear you down?
Todd: I think I’m probably still learning that, but it helps when you realize that life is kind of crazy and you’re going deal with stuff all the time. I’m quite aware and thankful that I’ve been very fortunate to have the upbringing I had and I don’t have anything but fond memories of growing up, and my life has really been easy. But everyone deals with their own personal “real-world” issues and for me when I wrote that song I was just kind of freaking out because my music life and my work life were pretty unstable and I was kind of freaking out about everything. And now I’ve kind of learned to embrace that stuff, and other stuff – still working on it though.
Kendra: Your other song, “I Want Your Love” has this universal feel because let’s face it – who doesn’t want to be loved, right? When you were penning it – whose love were you thinking of in the back of your head?
Todd: There may have been someone on my mind, haha. But like you said, that song is pretty universal in its message and isn’t necessarily autobiographical. I just decided to write a happy song for once, and that’s what came out.
Kendra: Lastly, what are your music plans as of right now for the rest of the year?
Todd: Right now I’m just gearing up to support the record with three album release shows in three cities (NYC, Boston and CT), and right now I’m in the process of booking shows for the end of summer and fall. So stay tuned! I’m really looking forward to the rest of this year.