Aaron Frazer shares the local haunts that inspired his love for L.A. on new album 'Into the Blue'


“I flew into LAX with a dream and my cardigan,” Aaron Frazer says with a laugh.

The singer and multi-instrumentalist has called Los Angeles home for the past year and change, settling in central L.A. after a decade in New York. And while Frazer has been in and out of L.A. for songwriting sessions and shows with his group, Durand Jones and the Indications, his West Coast setup heralds an entirely new era.

“Home is a funny word,” Frazer says of his move. “It was like a confluence of multiple destabilizing events: the end of a five-year relationship; we’d been living together for years. We were planning on moving to L.A. together, but I wound up heading west by myself. Landed in a new city where, sure, from music I’ve met people, but I don’t know people.”

From this conflicting and sometimes confounding swirl of excitement, grief, solitude and cautious optimism, Frazer created “Into the Blue.” Out Friday and co-produced by Grammy winner Alex Goose, Frazer’s second solo LP is the kind of reflective, true-to-self effort that can only be made in the nadir that follows a major life change.

“[I was] heading into this big sad unknown and that’s kind of what brought me to this image of the blue. It’s part desert, part ocean, just endless lonesome horizon, which also really calls to mind the cowboy,” Frazer says. “It’s at that nexus of a lot of big nature that contains loneliness but also possibility.”

“Into the Blue” features some of the sweet soul vibes and falsetto Frazer is known for but dives headfirst into his multifarious influences: ’90s R&B (“Far Away”), Black Keys-inspired dancefloor burners (“Payback”), disco (“Easy to Love”) and spaghetti western scores (“Into the Blue”). Frazer’s love of hip-hop is an undercurrent throughout the record and was buoyed by Goose’s influence.

Recently, Frazer spoke to The Times about how moving cross-country enabled his truest artistic statement and the L.A. haunts where he found community along the way.

Jeremy Sole’s loft, Boyle Heights

I spent my last two months in L.A in 2022 living in that loft, sharing a room with my partner, and Jeremy was my roommate. That was such a crazy loft; it used to be a fish market in the ’30s and now this artist was living there who does large installation work. In the middle of the warehouse there was a giant chrome submarine — like 40 feet long — and a three-legged cat named Arlene lived inside of it.

When I came back in [March] 2023, I asked to sublet there again. They were in the process of changing it into just a warehouse; Jeremy wasn’t there anymore and the artist was gone a lot, doing lots of different gigs. So I was there by myself, where I made these memories with my partner, and now I’m in this cold-ass stripped warehouse. I started [my new life in L.A.] where I left off. Except my life had fallen apart, basically.

Average pizza

The sort of “at home” foods of New York are obviously bagels, halal truck chicken and lamb over rice, and pizza — which I actually do think is fine out here.

I think people get too caught up in “nice pizza.” Never judge a city by its best pizza; judge it by its average pizza. Every city is gonna have one primo, artisan pizza or one old Italian man making one pizza at a time with his trembling hands that you have to wait in line for an hour. F– that. The measure of a city’s pizza is what you can get at like midnight for like $2.50. L.A. Quarter Sheets is delicious, but that’s more artisan. Prince Street is solid, it’s a little like cheaper drunk [food].

Little Tokyo

I collect vintage clothing and, for me, Space City vintage in Little Tokyo is great. You can find stuff on the cheaper end or, if you’re looking for some specific, authentic 1950s thing, the shop owner, Zac Vargas, will show you the goods.

For plants, Latinx With Plants. Andi Xoch is the owner and she’s an amazing small-business owner, artist and community organizer. That is in Boyle Heights, but they opened up a location inside the upstairs of Space City vintage.

Cafe Dulce, the coffee shop in Little Tokyo — and there’s one in the Row as well — has such a good blueberry matcha. I love matcha; coffee messes up my stomach.

I’ve been to Tokyo and Tokyo sushi is good. Granted, I only had it twice — it was a very short trip because of COVID restrictions — and I didn’t go looking for, like, the top thing. But L.A. sushi I do believe is just as good. I would shout out Hama Sushi in Little Tokyo.

Sonido del Valle

I love going to Sonido del Valle in Boyle Heights; that is such an amazing place to look for records. They specialize in Mexican music, and music that’s sung in Spanish, and I always get an education when I go in there. It’s almost like [records from] everyone’s grandparents in Boyle Heights who are getting rid of their vinyl collections.

Studio 5, Atwater Village

Most of the record was done at Alex’s home studio, Studio 5. I feel like it’s gonna get featured in Architectural Digest or something. It’s so beautiful. Alex has such a great eye for interior design and stuff; he went to school to be a graphic designer. [The apartment is] open, it’s airy. He’s an insane vinyl collector; one of Goose’s prized possessions is an original Arthur Verocai record.

We just spent days and days there; I spent this entire year holed up in [Studio 5]. We were able to really dig in and just not be rushed.

It is cool to be living in a place where there are a lot of people that I love and I admire, and we are able to spend real time together. I wasn’t between tours. I wasn’t on a system like Dan [Auerbach’s, who produced Frazer’s debut LP], which is like, you write it in a week and then you record really fast. It was just sort of like this giant open space for me to take my time with these various collaborations. Moving to L.A. definitely allowed me to make this record the way I wanted to.

The Troubadour

I get chills just thinking about [my sold-out show there in February 2023]. It’s hard not to get emotional playing on that stage, and I literally cried. All this emotional processing is needed to write these songs, but the next step is externalizing and actually performing these songs for people.

Just getting to play on the same stage where “Donny Hathaway Live” was laid down [and] knowing that you can, in some way, be a part of that history. There is a sense of conjuring ghosts, of magic, of witchcraft, when you do that. That’s how it feels to play on the Troubadour stage.

It’s a small stage but it feels amazing. I love two-tiered venues where it feels like the crowd is, like, above you. It’s almost like a wave crashing down on you just, like, people. I also do want to shout out to Paramount in Boyle Heights. That’s an amazing venue.





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