LA by-way-of Houston indie pop artist Dror discusses new beginnings in the year ahead, including an upcoming EP, a new apartment to write and record in, and a return to making music that sounds authentically like himself.
Stream: “PEN15” – Dror
The end of 2022 signaled many new beginnings for LA-based musician Dror.
While the end of the year did mark the closure of old projects, old working relationships, and even an old apartment, the parts Dror is most excited about are yet to come. Going into the second month of 2023, the Houston native is getting ready to release an upcoming EP that he’s been privately and fastidiously working on for the past several months.
“The project was a way for me to reflect on everything I was experiencing; different friendships, themes of loyalty and trust,” Dror says. “As you get older, friendships and relationships change as you reevaluate who you are, what serves you and what you are fulfilled by. The project really reflects my arrival to LA and experiencing all new things. It gave me the confidence to dig deep into who I am through all the different encounters I had with people.”
It’s hard to put Dror in a box; his music has covered elements of melancholic pop, emotional soul, and even hip-hop. He’s amassed more than 17,000 followers on Instagram and stars and produces in his own professional-grade music videos on YouTube. His upcoming EP, whose name he’s keeping a surprise for his fans until its release, is self-described as going “back to the sound I originally set out to make.”
While he says the music is more advanced and the writing has improved on these records, Dror shares that these songs go back to the purest form of his original intention to make music, which could be due in part to the independence he’s gained living in his first apartment entirely alone. Many young professionals go through a similar transition, when they want to cling to the familiarity of a college social life, but eventually have to grow into creating an independent lifestyle, often away from old friends. Speaking with Dror, it’s clear that he’s an intentional person, trying to better himself, grow, and understand the world more.
“Living on my own now has been a great transition as I’m making music,” he explains. “I’m really able to tap into who I am and what I want to say. I meditate and feel more in tune with myself than when I was living with a bunch of people. I think a lot of people aren’t conscious of how everyone is affected by their own routine and things that they do. I try to be super conscious of that.”
Since Dror began publicly releasing music in 2018 with his debut single “Tryna Be,” he’s built up a portfolio of nearly a dozen additional tracks that reflect on his maturing views about love, success, and staying true to yourself in an increasingly dissonant digital world. “Tryna Be,” which is almost five years old now, proved that Dror had something meaningful to say.
Masquerading as an upbeat pop song, the track is actually a thoughtful meditation about trying to pursue your dreams as a young person even in the face of uncertainty and acting unauthentically on social media.
As often happens with every creative endeavor, when you set out to share your talent and make your dreams come true, people will inevitably have their own opinions to share—whether wanted or not. Dror shared that after receiving a good amount of initial feedback from many different people, his next few songs were a reflection of everything other people liked and thought that he should make.
“My first few songs I set out to be dark and moody—all my favorite artists are soulful, heartfelt artists, like Amy Winehouse. It was my first time writing, first time figuring out how to put out the different production elements. I had a lot of trial and error with my beginnings.”
Contrastingly, his latest single “PEN15” – which he debuted in May 2022 – is a brasher, more hip-hop inspired track that calls attention to his male bravado with a cheeky title. Dror has come into his own confidence with his songwriting, as a result of his experimentation for the past half-decade.
“I wanted to find a way to bring the more sad and happy parts of my past year and what I’ve felt, and present it in a more confident way,” Dror says. “In the past, I’ve made sad songs and happy songs. I’ve wanted to find a way to talk about something sad, or maybe not the best themes, and still not have the listener walk away feeling sad. To be able to talk about certain things and feel better about yourself was the big picture way to bring it all together.”
We previously featured Dror in Atwood Magazine over two years ago when premiering the single and video for his song, “Bloodline.” That was the profile of a fresh face; a new artist who was finding his footing in LA after leaving a different career path behind. Now, two years past the pandemic and more than 150K streams on Spotify for some of his top singles, Jonathan “Dror” has his feet firmly planted on the ground.
And they’re not just planted anywhere. Last year, he was firmly on the ground of his old apartment, writing and producing a lot of his music in the 1981 bungalow that he got with friends during his initial move from Houston to the Golden State. Tucked into the hills of Los Angeles’ Beverly Hills Post Office neighborhood, it was the type of place any young 20-something would dream of sharing with some of their best buddies; airy, sunny, tranquil, cozy.
“This home is the first place I lived when I moved to LA, so it was my first impression of the city. I had all sorts of roommates there, and met so many people there. It was a melting pot that exposed me to everything in the city, and it’s where I lived through COVID,” Dror reminisces. “With most of its original, retro architecture intact, it was the most incredible place to live ever since I moved to LA from Texas a few years ago. From intimate dinner parties to more wild New Year’s Eve celebrations, this home has seen at all and has been the perfect gathering spot for every occasion.”
But, like anything or place that gets too familiar and comfortable after a while, you have to let it go in order to move forward. After a memorable few years in his first apartment, Dror waved goodbye to his roommates and old rooms with nostalgia, in favor of a more grown-up place of his own. Dror’s move came just at the end of 2022, signaling the end of his last creative chapter in that home, and moving on to new beginnings.
“I’m a product of my environment; everyone is,” Dror says. “When you’re making art, you really have to dig deep and be hyper aware of yourself. If you’re feeling a certain way; why are you feeling that way? Wherever I live, I try to do things that will affect me in a positive way. Your mood is an active, daily effort.”
You can see photos of Dror in his old LA apartment below.
On the same goal of experimenting with different types of sound and embracing different styles in his music, next week, Dror will be releasing “Love Runs Out” with his friend Afinity on Tuesday, Feb 21 through Monstercat ahead of his EP. It’s an electronic track featuring soulful vocals. With this song and his overall upcoming EP, Dror is sticking to his goal of finding the positivity even in the dark times. Though his voice and lyrics may portray a serious-or even melancholy-tone, Dror is still trying to have fun, finding the magic in the hardships.
Inside Dror’s Old LA Apartment
photos by Nikoli Partiyeli
— — — —
? © Nikoli Partiyeli
:: Stream Dror ::