Fourteen-year-old guitarist Ray Goren describes LA Sessions, his new EP, as a unique mixture of everything from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Wonder. Considering the fact that Hendrix’s producer, Eddie Kramer, worked on the EP, it’s hard to argue.
Goren’s guitar journey is slightly different from that of most players. He started out on keyboards, playing songs by Thelonious Monk, J.J. Johnson and Miles Davis as early as age 5.
But it wasn’t until a few years later while searching YouTube that he stumbled upon a video clip of B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and Albert Collins performing together. That’s when the fuse was lit, and Goren has never looked back.
Kramer, who "discovered" Goren, has a resume that includes such giants as Led Zeppelin and Kiss. The legendary producer/engineer was so impressed with Goren that he produced LA Sessions himself and even enlisted some other musical heavyweights, including drummer Able Laboriel, Jr. (Paul McCartney) and bassist Paul Bushnell (Tim McGraw) to lend a hand.
With guitar prowess that extends well beyond his 14 years, Goren is an explosive live performer. I recently got the chance to speak with Goren about his new album.
GUITAR WORLD: How exciting was it for you to get to work with Eddie Kramer?
Oh man, where do I even begin? [laughs]. Eddie is just unbelievable at what he does. He’s truly a master of sound and a very down-to-earth, humble guy.
How did you meet Eddie?
I was playing at a club and Eddie just happened to be there. I remember when I got off the stage he came up to me and we started to talk. At first, I didn’t even realize who I was talking to. Turns out, he was Eddie Kramer and I was like, “Oh, wow!” [laughs]. We ended up talking about music for a while and things just blew up from there.
Did he let you in on any Jimi Hendrix secrets?
He told me a few Jimi stories but nothing I can tell out loud [laughs]. It’s all kind of secretive. He did show me some pictures he had of Jimi, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Kiss, and for each picture he had a little story to go along with it. It was a really cool music history lesson.
What’s your songwriting method?
I don’t write by riffs at all. Usually I’ll write on piano. When I write, I’ll write chords first and then a melody and then the lyrics come last. For the song “Memories,” I had these chords I had worked out on the keyboard. As I was sitting there writing the melody, the lyrics just sort of flowed out of my mouth, and that’s what I ended up singing. It just kind of happened. Most of my songs just come spontaneously.
Can you tell me a little about the message behind your video for “Stop Waiting”?
I normally don’t like to talk about what my songs are about, but there was a teen who was shot and killed and I just remember thinking to myself, “Dang, what’s his mom going to think when she finds out that her son got killed by a gun?” I wondered if there was something I could do about it, other than just sitting down and shaking my head.
What was the moment you realized you wanted to be a guitarist?
I grew up playing piano and a few other instruments. But then I saw a video of B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins and Eric Clapton — all playing together on the same stage! Man, from that point on I just remember thinking, “OK, forget about all of these other instruments. I’m a guitar player now!” [laughs].
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.