Brooklyn’s Own Loren Beri Transcends New York City In Upcoming EP, “Stray Cat Kingdom”
Deep in the city of Stray Cat Kingdom, Loren Beri built a world around his mania, frustration, and self-awareness that was manifested amid an unrecognizable melting pot of indie-synth. In his debut EP “Stray Cat Kingdom” dropping on July 20th, Beri sorted through the chaos in his life to create a wildly cinematic universe. Having suffered episodes of mania soon after the death of his father, Beri searched for comfort in a mangled school bus from one coast to the next. In a whirlwind of hysteria, he found himself grounded in the streets of Brooklyn, where the seed of his album began to sprout.
During a period of dissociation, Beri stood at a crossroads with himself, his identity and his musicality. He disclosed, “I was having a tough time, artistically and otherwise, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to put myself out there anymore. But continuing to write songs was better for my mental health than not doing so.” Almost instantly, in the face of doubt, beneath the debilitating darkness of his brain, he found his light. His newfound friend, O Mer, who turned out to be a long lost cousin, poured the gas on his flame to spark the fire for his well-deserved motivation.
Having grown up under the impression that both sides of his descendants were primarily Jewish, discovering his Italian lineage played out like a script for a film, creating his beloved album protagonist, Zo. “I always thought my roots were just Jewish on both sides and from other countries besides Italy. What if the Italian version of me never left Italy? I wanted Zo to have a similar identity revelation, too—almost the inverse of mine, as if our ancestors never left Italy. So Zo grows up there, descends from conversos, moves to New York a classical composer, and in New York he finds out he’s Jewish and he likes synth-pop music.”
“Stray Cat Kingdom” encompasses a slew of characters each rooted in Beri himself, beneath an alternative, almost dystopian version of Brooklyn. Very few artists have the ability to layer their story between fiction and reality and that’s what makes this album so special. Each track, although very different in the storyline, connects in a way that is so well fabricated that it dances before your eardrums.
My Brooklyn (Is Better Than Yours)
With the character of Zo in motion, the idea behind the first track, “My Brooklyn (Is Better Than Yours)” screamed below Beri’s subconscious. From an outside perspective, this song pays a witty homage to a gentrified neighborhood combusting in creative competition. Almost satirical at times Beri stated that, “It was a joke song at first—it made me crack up. But then some time passed, and the idea in my mind became all these people talking along with an exaggerated version of myself—a careless jerk, some Bushwick hipster. It’s a satire of where I found myself.” In a lovely tune above a spunky, slightly eerie mixture of beats like raindrops, the track tells the story of Zo and his struggle with the self-perception of artists in New York, where “sell outs can’t be sold.”
Greta’s Inn (Featuring Kishi Bashi & Mauro Refosco)
As Zo exits his self-absorbed world he finds himself traipsing into an almost other-worldly pub where artists, past and present, are introduced through his eyes. With a twinkling commencement, Zo scans the deep, bleeding “Greta’s Inn.” In an environment where the distinction between reality and fantasy are blurred, “Greta’s Inn floats out of time and space/As if Escher designed with grace/Someplace downtown no one/Will ever find,” gently plunging Beri’s struggle with mania into the narrative. Beri writes, “Through my experience with manic episodes, at the end there’s always a shred of truth even when I’ve imagine other things.” Greta’s Inn is the cosmic mystery that is Beri’s brain. A place where real things are happening but the forceful energy of Zo’s imagination trips you up elegantly.
Prince V (Featuring Itamar)
As the record unfolds, “Prince V” brings Beri himself back into the story personified as, Prince Vladimir. The third track “Prince V,” serves as a reflection of his life before New York, a place of cynical skepticism. Battling between what he has versus what he deserves, Prince V mocks himself with “Poor, little, rich boy going broke in the rain/Rolling Stone more like blown out flame,” as he recounts on his abrupt decision to drive across the country with his inheritance in his pocket. Because he was settled in his fortune, it was hard for him to feel bad for the situation he was in, as it was more mental than physical. As a coping mechanism, Beri found comfort in pulling himself out of the picture as if he were watching a play about his life. It gave him a view of himself in a way he’s never seen before. Between a mixture of humor and guilt, Prince V finds himself on a stage, “Screaming at the paupers of Broadway/I’m the play.”
The romanticized melody of “Genesis 2.0” etches the feeling of grief among a playful set of verses that temper the emotion into a euphoric sense of tranquility. Beri disclosed that “Genesis 2.0 allowed me to cut through a song’s grief while still revealing it more plainly in the chorus.” Unlike the other tracks, the narrative created seems to be at a standstill traversing itself between Loren Beri himself and the cast he collected. Showing face as his father, mother, grandfather, and grandmother, Beri’s grief becomes personified and dignified. Recollecting on the qualities of his relatives in a way so fitting to himself allows Beri to understand how his persona was built around those who he has lost. Festering a sense of closure, “If you see Dad tell him I love him/And the next drinks on me,” connects his grief in a full circle–recounting where it began and how it finally ended.
In an electrified ballad, “YOLO Crayon” follows Beri as he writes an apology to a former self. Recounting on an identity who lived in a moving shadow, chasing fame for the wrong reasons. As he leaves this version in the dust, he conspicuously speaks a clean slate into the mix, “the idea of a self/the self having ideas.” His early struggle with his art becomes apparent in this track and is executed in a way that brings you into the equation–into the fundamentals of his style and artistic process. Although appearing as a simple handwritten note, the track transforms into who he wants to be and the struggles that come with finding that person.
Presenting himself as a musician, Beri shares his story in a way that unfolds like an anthology–mirroring a musical genius. “Stray Cat Kingdom” is a record that will be replayed and recognized long after its release, writing a proper ending for Zo, Prince Vladimir, and the rest of the characters in the alternate universe that is Beri’s brilliance.
Don’t miss the trip, preorder “Stray Cat Kingdom” here!