I feel very lucky to be one of a few personally selected blogs to be granted an interview with recording artist Kramies before he takes some time off. As he puts it…”heading overseas for some few select shows and live video things…and before I hide away in my hobbit hole to start writing new stuff”.
I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I did talking with Kramies!
I read your Wikipedia page to find out a bit more about you…but I wanted to ask about your “Dutch/American” background. Can you tell me about where you you born and grew-up? (Wikipedia lists Ohio. I grew up in Columbus by the way.)Columbus! That’s a nice city. I used to sneak away to Columbus as a teen. I think the first day I was able to drive I headed to Columbus… I’m not sure when the ‘Dutch-American’ title started, but it is something I definitely hold dear to my heart. I am Dutch and have very close ties to the Dutch, but I was born here in a small town in Ohio. I have always been & felt very close to my roots in Europe. I believe that having such a strong connection to my ancestral history recent and past, has played a big roll in my sound & writing. It seems that almost every time I start to write I instantly start to dream and float over cobblestone streets, castles and old churches. I definitely have a nostalgic love for where my family and roots are from.
I remember a few stories and lessons from the past, one being from my great grandmother. She lived to be very old – around the age of 98, and when I was very young she called me to her and said she was going to tell me the key to living a long full life like she had. A plum of cigar smoke was coming out of her mouth and she took a drink of her full glass of whiskey she said, “Kramies if you want to live a long life like me – don’t drink and smoke”……. So confusing for a young kid….When do you remember being first really interested in music? Did music always come naturally to you? Did you study it in school?
I can remember first being interested in music when I would hear it in films.
The music composed for movies always moved me into a whole other world in my head.
Also, I was a shy kid and would spend more time listening to old Christmas records through my dad’s giant 1970s headphones then do normal kid stuff. I kind of remember wanting to be a writer or an artist but never knowing what that meant… I never thought about music I just felt it and how it moved through me with a kind of poetic vibration that affected me.
It wasn’t until my teens when I kind of figured out the connection between writing and music as possibly being art. To this day I’m still trying to figure it out.
I’ve never had any type of schooling and I can’t read or write music. I taught myself through emotion, and whimsical images and not knowing enough.I really like the artists I’ve heard on the label you are signed-to…Hidden Shoal Records. I also really like the video for ‘Clocks Were All Broken’ you made with label manager Cam Merton. How did you get signed with them? Any tips for aspiring artists?
Oh yes, Cam is a wizard when it comes to creating beautiful videos. He has such talent for producing & piecing together incredible scenes and images perfectly with music.
Hmmm Let’s see, the day we agreed to work together I remember was a really good day.
I was headed to the airport going to Ireland, when I got the email from Cam agreeing to do an EP with Hidden Shoal. I really loved the label and artists Hidden Shoal was releasing. They have a very eccentric yet unified sound. I was excited to be joining that group of artists. To this day Hidden Shoal has been a wonderful brilliant working experience The details of how it happened or how any of these things happen I’m not sure, I just remember moments really but there’s always a lot emailing and discussing and planning.
As far as tips, I would say to remember that’s it’s all about love, loving to create, and spreading a little emotion out into the world in waves. Great little things seem to always happen when your doing what you love.I personally discovered you from hearing about your work with Jason Lytle from Grandaddy. (I’m a big fan.) How did it come about working with him?
I too am a big fan of Jason’s music. Well it’s a short blurry story that starts in the late 1990′s… First, my bands back in the 90′s opened and played for a handful of great bands like Clexico, Spiritulized, Red House Painters etc, Grandaddy was also one of the bands. Jason and I had some mutual friends and hung out in groups a few times. It wasn’t until around 2012 that we reconnected and started chatting about him producing a few of the songs for my EP “The Wooden Heart“.
He is such a nice human and I was just blown away by how he turned all my simple little parts I recorded and songs into these bigger more emotionally exposed and matured pieces.Last question…on your new EP ‘The Folklore Sessions‘ you re-work some of your songs with some help from Grant Wilson from the TV show Ghost Hunters. I have to ask how you hooked-up with him as well.
Well that is a whole other story!
He was making cheese on a cheese farm in a tiny German town and I was passing through trying to sell my last goat when we meet… Ok that’s not the real story, it’s a little stranger than that. I was doing a small radio interview in Colorado on my album, Castle of Ghosts. During the interview the subject of inspiration came up and how I seem to be inspired by Castles, old stories, ghosts and spirits, which to this day I still am. I think the interviewer asked if I watch shows on ghosts and I said yes I watch Ghost Hunters…
When I was done with the interview I decided to drive to Estes Park and visit the Stanley Hotel. Well when I got there, believe it or not Grant was sitting in the lobby of the hotel – ha!
We chatted briefly but that was all. A few years later when I released “The Wooden Heart” I had heard and loved Grant’s piano composing and the music he was releasing so I sent him a few tracks from “The Wooden Heart”. Grant’s sound and style feels very familiar and emotionally similar to what I love in music. From there it was an easy decision to work together on “The Folklore Sessions”. We work really well together. Everything he created was so beautiful and made the emotion in the songs have more depth.
I’ve always had trouble listening to my own music especially after long days writing and recording, but these last two EPs getting to work with Jason Lytle and Grant Wilson have been amazing and that’s what this is all about…..
Lots of good shows/events added to our region recently…
- Free Slurpee Day is Friday July 11th. (Get it? 7/11? Happens every year.) at participating stores.
- Spoon with special opening guest Hamilton Leithauser (of The Walkmen) are playing a show on Saturday September 6th at The Norva in beautiful downtown Norfolk. Tickets are around $34 with the fees.
- Clutch are coming back to town to perform at The Norva on Friday September 26th. Tickets are about $27.
- über-hipster band Broken Bells are performing at The National Theater in Richmond, VA for those who would like to make a small road-trip. The show is Sunday September 28th and tickets are around $40. The opening guest is also Hamilton Leithauser.