Meet The 14-Year-Old Eddie Kramer Is Producing

by Carl Wiser

Eddie Kramer, the man who engineered Electric Ladyland and Led Zeppelin II, has a new project: a 14-year-old wunderkind named Ray Goren who sings, plays guitar and writes his own songs.

Kramer clearly hears something in the kid, which means a lot coming from his ears. In June, Goren released a 5-song EP called LA Sessions, which Kramer produced. We sent some questions to Ray to find out what it's like to be a teenager in love with music, and what it's like working with Kramer.
Carl Wiser (Songfacts): When did you realize that you heard music differently than most?

Ray Goren: For me I guess I didn't really realize it. To me music was always just music. However, when I felt it, the light bulb in my head went off and I thought to myself that I'm most definitely doing this as a career - that this is the only thing I want to do in life. Also, as I got late into elementary school I realized that I was listening to music that was very different than all the kids around me. They were listening to Disney pop stuff and I was into Monk... it is really funny that way but I did not really think much about it. It was natural - it was what I liked.

Songfacts: I see a lot of teenagers wearing The Who and Led Zeppelin T-shirts, which is encouraging. How much do most teens know about classic rock?

Ray: Honestly, I haven't seen too many teens in Southern California wearing shirts of that caliber. And some that wear 'em don't even know much about those bands. Yet slowly but surely their taste is being molded into enjoying this type of music. Bands who use real instruments with rock-driven songs are starting to be heard again. For example, the Black Keys.

Songfacts: How do you write a song?

Ray: It varies, but 85 percent of the time I play around with chords first, then I throw on a melody, then I write the lyrics. One of the questions that I get asked the most about my writing is if riffs then turn into songs. But that is not what I do.

Songfacts: Please describe a session working with Eddie Kramer.

Ray: Eddie is a legend for a reason. He is a master at his craft, and along with that he is extremely supportive. He is very down-to-earth, and is one of the funniest people I have ever met. We talk, we laugh, we listen and exchange ideas, the room is filled with sound and great vibe. Also, many times during breaks he shared pictures and stories from the '60s and '70s. Not just Hendrix... so many others.

Songfacts: Do you always defer to Kramer, or will you sometimes insist on doing it your way?

Ray: Eddie has one of the most open ears that I have seen. I always have something to say because at the end of the day it is my music. Eddie and I both work together and combine ideas. It's great because he lets me express myself and then puts his "Kramer Touch" on it.

Songfacts: Who is your favorite songwriter?

Ray: I have a list of them, but first and foremost is Leon Russell. I also love John Mayer and Stevie Wonder.

Songfacts: When you sing about love and loss, does that come from personal experience?

Ray: It comes from both personal experience, and witnessing other people experience things. When I see certain things they cause me pain. Real pain. I wish that was not the case.

Songfacts: Along these same lines, your songs have very mature themes. Where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?

Ray: I get inspired by many different things from my own personal experience to something that I read on the news and causes me to feel unusual pain. It varies, but as long as I get a message out I feel that I have lyrically done my job.

Songfacts: Please tell us about your song "You Gotta Learn."

Ray: Honestly, I don't talk about what my songs mean because many people have their own interpretation of what they mean, and I don't want to ruin that for them.

Songfacts: What song that you've written is your favorite, and why?

Ray: I enjoy writing all my songs. However, my favorite one has to be "Memories" because of what I wrote it about. The song means a lot to me.

Songfacts: Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel are just two of the talents who made disastrous business deals in their 20s. In an industry that preys on its young, how do you make sure your business decisions are sound?

Ray: Well my dad is one of the smartest business people in the entire world!!! With him on my side nobody will be able to take advantage of me. I love him with the bottom of my heart.

Songfacts: What is the best part of your job?

Ray: EVERYTHING!!! Making music for me is the biggest blessing. I don't really consider it a job, but a passion that exceeds its limits.

But what stands out the most for me has got to be playing live. There is not a better feeling than taking the crowd on an emotional ride (a good emotion), and have them sing the lyrics to your song. Also, I enjoy deeply playing guitar on stage and cranking up and playing really hard. That to me is the best part of my job.

Songfacts: What are your thoughts on technology when it comes to recording? You're too young to remember the analog days, but your producer certainly does.

Ray: I love old vintage sounds like analog, and I also love newer digital stuff too. There is room for it all. The old stuff has this sound that is just untouchable, but the newer recording gear has brilliant sounds that sound great. For example: On one of my songs with Eddie we were thinking of adding strings. Instead of calling a whole orchestra, we opened up sounds of strings and got just the thing we were searching for.

Songfacts: How do you feel about social media?

Ray: I feel that social media is very important. It is a great way of connecting to fans and also a great way of sharing music. However, at most I spend 30 minutes a day on it so it doesn't distract me from the important stuff like practicing guitar, vocals, and writing music.

Songfacts: Is there anything you had to give up to pursue your music career that you miss?

Ray: Nothing really. I usually do what I like to do, but after music. But thinking about it, sometimes I don't get to hang out with friends or stuff like that, but I love what I do and nothing beats playing and making music.

Songfacts: How do you get your schoolwork done?

Ray: It's a balance. Sometimes in the car I will get work done. However, there are times were I can't do it that night, but I wake up early the next morning and do it. Also, when I know that I'm going to be busy, instead of lunch and break I just use the computer lab and do my homework there.

July 16, 2014
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