PRO-PORTRAIT: Roem Baur is saying what he needs to say in his music

Roem Baur is a classically trained singer. His mom loved opera and classical music, his dad would spend time in the garage working on motorcycles and listening to late sixties/early seventies Blues, Rock ‘n Roll, Soul and Motown. So it is no surprise that Roem’s music has its roots in this eclectic mix.

Last June he released his first record, The Thief, which reflected his collaboration with another performer, The Family Crest’s Liam McCormick, who produced the record with Roem, providing arrangements for his music, a co-author for two of his songs, and a vision for the record.

“I hadn’t had a whole lot of musicians that understood where I was coming from and what I wanted to do. Once Liam and I met, and after a few beers and a few laughs, he agreed to write the string arrangements for the record. So, I sent him 30 songs, some of which were ideas, things I had written while living in Nashville. Some were written in Argentina, where I lived for a month and wrote and recorded with some local musicians down there. Some came from my journals, while traveling in Southeast Asia and all over the world.”

The Thief is a record of love and loss—“mostly loss,” as Roem puts it. The vision for the record, and the collaboration with Liam allowed Roem to challenge himself and call out some demons—as music will often do. The album was record in St. Luke’s Church in San Francisco, on a cold winter’s night. Roem thought they we heading in to produce a sparse record, but when all was said and done, “the recording was actually really dense and I think that says a lot about the nature of the project. It was more of a call and response, a counter melody, with an additional dialogue that helped the songs along in a way that I might not have done for this concept.”

Roem says The Thief wasn’t perhaps the smartest record to release as a first album. “It’s not the most accessible record from a pop music standpoint, and when you’re an independent musician trying to make your way, it’s a lot easier to have that happy-go-lucky single, or something with strong hooks rather than something people listen to in the dark by themselves.”

The Thief was released last year, with songs introduced live at SXSW, the annual music festival in Austin, Texas, to critical acclaim, which helped Roem push himself even deeper into what his passions are, not just what the music industry expects of him, or what he thinks they think of him. “It was satisfying to give the people who had supported me—my fans, and my family, something that they could take home and say, this is art, this is Roem’s record. He was inspired by how people responded to the personal nature of the songs, and performance. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, that’s what I’m hoping for, but it’s still humbling, every time I hear people talk about the record. I’ve even had ex girlfriends who swore to never talk to me again email me and say, ‘No More Sunsets” is one of the most beautiful and sad songs I’ve ever heard, and I just want you to know that I’m claiming it as mine.”

He sees recording as the opportunity to overcome fear, and to use it as a giant magnifying glass point at himself. “I’m not afraid of a million eyeballs on me, I’m afraid of my own. Delivering a piece of myself into the music is soul revealing. It’s absolutely frightening, but it’s also empowering.”

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