Oren Levin Releases New Music as He Returns to His Roots

Moving back home after living in Los Angeles helped this Ann Arbor native write songs that felt more honest to himself.

Oren Levin
Ann Arbor native Oren Levin releases the first single from his upcoming album "Gold Rush Kid." Image courtesy of Erez Levin and edited by Dylan Hancook.

Oren Levin is a self-proclaimed “gold rush kid,” a term he came up with to describe the midwestern dreamer who moves to Los Angeles, California in hope of fame and fortune. He has returned to his roots in Ann Arbor, where he has found the time to fully express his inner monologue in his newly developed sound.

Levin released his lead single “Prove” on May 7. The song is part of Levin’s upcoming album Gold Rush Kid. The last few years have been filled with various transitions as Levin moved to Los Angeles after graduating college and then came back to Ann Arbor once the pandemic hit. His new music brings the listener into his head as he sings about the anxieties he has experienced throughout the changes of the last few years.

He compares the pursuit of fame in Los Angeles to the Gold Rush of 1849, when people from all over were lured to California by the promise of wealth. Levin said it feels like the spirit of the Gold Rush is still present in Los Angeles as people are constantly searching for little pockets of gold. Except in a singer-songwriter’s case, striking gold is achieved in the form of a hit song.

The singer-songwriter was born and raised in Ann Arbor. Levin attended Community High School and stepped into the city’s music scene early on. He continued his momentum of Ann Arbor gigs while he studied Performing Arts Technology at the University of Michigan.

Levin’s debut album For When I Leave Home was released in 2019. This album is about his goal to move to Los Angeles after college which he thought would best set him up for success.

“The only thing I really wanted to do after college was move to LA,” Levin said. “I thought ‘what else am I gonna do?’ I thought you made it in the music industry by moving to the biggest city possible.”

An internship opportunity at a recording studio in Malibu sparked the move shortly after graduation.

While Levin said he could see himself eventually moving back to Los Angeles, there were some unexpected disadvantages to the big city for Levin at this point in his career. His days were booked with work and life did not leave room for personal projects such as developing an album. He said the album did not really come together until he moved back to Michigan.

“I quickly found that my time was being taken up and I didn’t really have the space to work and the emotional energy to make stuff on my own,” Levin said.

Another source of anxiety while living in Los Angeles was the constant feeling that he had to prove himself. Whether he was at the studio or at a house party, there was always the pressure of feeling like he had to show that he belongs there. His new song “Prove” revolves around his struggle of setting too high of expectations for himself and comparing himself to others.

“Writing ‘Prove’ was like a step of learning how to be comfortable with myself and that’s something I’m still trying to deal with.”

The Gold Rush Kid came together after a series of unexpected events, partially caused by the pandemic. Levin said he is appreciating the gift of time that he has now to dedicate his energy towards grounding himself in projects he cares about. Levin remains optimistic even when he does not know what his next step will be after this album.

Updates on upcoming projects can be found on Levin’s Instagram.