Artist Interview: Robert Kramer
Tell us about yourself and your music
An accomplished stage and studio musician and composer, Robert Kramer has been a mainstay on the midwest music scene for over 20 years. His vocal and compositional styles have been compared to such artists as Sting, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen & others. He is skilled in keyboards, guitars, vocals and composition from many styles of music from rock and pop to blues, jazz, classical, orchestral and folk. Kramer has independently produced and released a number of solo projects, and has performed on and produced other artists releases. After a serious neck injury and surgery halted his performing career in the early 90’s, he continued to write music in his home studio, focusing his energy back to his original instrument, the keyboards. Fighting a series of personal health struggles, Kramer spent two years in recovery while beginning a whole new series of writing and recording projects, eventually leading him to expand his musical boundaries. In 2000, he went on to compose and record an all original classical renaissance album, “Songs Of Past Lives”, a collection of beautiful instrumental music that continues to garner high praise and airplay on new age, soundscape and classical broadcast and internet stations around the world.
It was also during this period he wrote and released his first commercial pop/rock record, “Blood On The Full Moon”. One of the songs on the album “Who Says?” (a song he wrote about his disillusionment with not becoming successful in the music business) represented an odd turning point for Kramers’ career, becoming the first song ever published, ultimately used in an indie film “Monkey Love”, which represented the debut film appearance of now A-list actor Jeremy Renner.
Driving his love of music was his continued fascination with the technical recording process, and after graduating from a series of recording classes, he opened up his own project studio to further use as a platform to create and release his own compositions as well as assist other bands recording efforts. He spent the years 2003 to 2005 working on his next project, “Legacy Of Love” which features premiere performances by the legendary Napoleon Murphy Brock, former lead vocalist & saxophone player for Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention. Kramer met Brock at a Zappa tribute concert some years before, and the two became fast friends and began working together on two songs from the album, “Water Into Wine” & “Place In My Heart”. The album, a combination of progressive rock, catchy upbeat pop, driving blues, acoustic, and soulful r & b, continues to break boundaries, attracting listeners from many age groups.
From 2007 to 2013, he targeted his songwriting skills towards composing tracks for film and tv, having music placed in the popular CBS soap opera “The Young & The Restless”, Byron Allens’ Entertainment Studios and various video and independent film projects.
His latest release for 2017, “Shadow Logic” is a musical smorgasbord variety of musical styles ranging from pop/rock to pop to jazz, to rhythm & blues to reggae and stadium rock
Talk to us more about your latest release
The new 2017 release by returning midwest indie artist/composer Robert Kramer, “Shadow Logic” is a tour-de-force of musical styles and approaches that bring to mind the classic rock/pop songwriting of major label acts such as Billy Joel, Sting/Police, Pink Floyd, Phil Collins and others.
Since his last release “Legacy Of Love”, which featured his collaboration with Frank Zappa musician/vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, Kramer returns with a strong, aggressive emotionally charged album that runs the gamut of musical styles from rock/pop, reggae, to soulful ballads and R&B pop.
Already getting positive raves with radio-friendly tunes such as “Just Another Piano Man”, “The Rhythm of The Thing”, & “My Confession”, the reviews coming in herald Robert Kramer as the return of the classic rock/pop songwriter.
A limited tour for 2017 is in the planning stages, along with a series of scheduled radio and cable tv appearances to promote the recording. In addition, two songs off the album have already charted, snuggled comfortably in between major artists as Taylor Swift & Demi Lovato, “The Human Element” reaching #25 on the DRT National Airplay Top 50 Adult Contemporary Charts. Also a film and tv composer, Roberts’ entire catalog of releases have recently been included in the Touchtunes Digital JukeBox System, available at over 50,000 venues across the US and Canada.
What inspired you to write this release?
My latest album, Shadow Logic, is a conscious effort to cover many different genres & styles of ,my compositional abilities in order to create a “musical resume’ ” to attract the attention of music supervisors and directors in the film and television industry.
Any plans to release a video?
Many of the songs I have composed already have a video for them. I’ve become a video producer as well, honing my craft with the first song that came thru over two years ago, “Strange Times”. I knew a little bit about the process of producing a video from the early days of my experience in public access television when I lived in Skokie, Illinois, but I needed to work with modern software in the digital realm, so I taught myself how to use programs such as Corel Video Studio and others. It actually worked out quite well, and I became quite proficient at it after a while. It helped me with my musical compositions because now I actually tend to compose with a visual component in mind. i.e., – “How could I show the visual meaning of what I’ve composed on film”? “What would this song LOOK LIKE if I had to explain it to someone visually? It has helped me quite a bit as a musical composer.
Any plans to hit the road?
A limited local midwest tour for 2017 is in the planning stages to promote the new album. I’m putting together a live band from some of the studio musicians I’ve worked with over the years. We’re exploring different options. I’ve got a small company I’ve formed to help with the details.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
I believe in starting with live performances as the basis for my branding. Many bands and artists think in terms of live performances to promote a recorded project. I believe it should work in REVERSE. The recording should be a PREVIEW of the ARTIST, NOT the other way around. That’s the main idea of how I differ in the mainstream industry, which has become, in my humble opinion, corrupted by the mainstream music industry as the need to SELL A PRODUCT instead of sharing inspired music with those who are willing to listen to it. I’m not in this to make a PROFIT. I’m in this to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. if people wish to buy my PRODUCT, (i.e. the recorded music of my compositions) then they need to know that ALL of the financial resources are put into helping spread the message of the MUSIC to as many people as possible. It’s not about the ARTIST, it’s about the MUSIC that the artist CREATES. There has been too much emphasis on the PERSONALITY, LOOKS and IMAGE of the ARTIST,and not enough about the MESSAGE of the MUSIC. Somewhere along the way, that basic message has been corrupted and forgotten. I mean to bring that ethic back to the indie music world. Yes, you have to get peoples attention, so I use the MEDIA to attract attention, but once I have your attention, THEN I can deliver the MESSAGE.
Who have you been listening to lately?
I like classical music a lot. Debussy, Mozart, Beethoven. I like edgy, experimental things. Composers who push the envelope… Zappa, Yes, Genesis, Asia, Edgar Varese…there aren’t too many left who do that in the mainstream nowadays. Those who dare to cross the line and be different. I like Sting a lot because he refuses to be his own tribute band. He takes his material and re-interprets it. I admire artists who understand that music can have a progressive element to it. It can evolve beyond its’ written script. An emotion isn’t static. It can evolve and grow. I like composers who understand that.
Tell us about your passions
Music is really my whole life, but the disciplines surrounding my career are also some of the things that fire me up! Using video to interpret various musical (and non-musical) ideas are one of my passions. Exploring religious concepts,
What else is happening next in your world?
New album for late 2017 release, “Beyond The Great Divide”, recording in the studio, forming new local touring band, doing radio and cable tv promotion for next album.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Robert!
Connect with Robert Kramer