Yarin Glam was just 14 years old when she moved with her family from a small town in Israel called Arad to the sprawling majesty of Los Angeles. As a child, she had watched and listened to so much American TV and music, that she couldn’t wait to make the move. 

“The American Dream,” she says. “So my parents decided to give it a chance for a year. I could go and see what I always dreamed of. My sister can try the acting stuff. See how it is for a year. In my head, a year is a long time. That’s how we got here.”

Arad, she says, is a small town with a population in the realm of 25,000. Moving from a “homey” place to something as gloriously insane as L.A. made the whole process all the more stark. 

“I was like, ‘I’m gonna move to L.A., it’s gonna be like High School Musical’,” Glam says. “I’m gonna meet my Troy Bolton. But then it was moving to a whole different country, the culture, the language. I thought I spoke great English but it turned out I didn’t. I came here and had to struggle with my accent. You have all the insecurities of a normal teen but add the pressure of trying to find friends and fitting in with your language and everything. It was insane.”

Glam spent her first year trying to deal with high school, and struggling with friends encouraging her to take the “easy route” and return home to Israel. But she was determined to get through school, and kickstart a career.

“All my life, I was a very shy kid,” she says. “When I moved here and barely had any friends and stuff, I just listened to music, watched my favorite artist’s interviews and concerts, imagining myself doing that. Then when I was 17, I was at IHOP with my friend at 2 a.m. I was always that kid who dreamed very big and always talked about her dream. So I was like, ‘I feel it, I’m gonna make music now, it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna be amazing, we’re going to be at Madison Square Garden, it’s gonna be the time of our lives.’ I didn’t even finish the sentence, and this guy comes up to me and goes, ‘Hey, are you interested in doing commercials and stuff?’” 

That chance late night encounter in a diner led to Glam sending over a voice memo of her singing, which was in turn passed to a producer. She was already working with a producer in L.A., and the cumulative result is that she released three songs when she was 17. The ball was rolling, but she was learning on the job. Back in Israel, she had big dreams, but her shyness held her back from performing.

“Ever since I can remember, I always knew that I wanted to do music,” she says. “I remember being six years old, going to people and being like, ‘Hey, I’m going to be a singer.’ But I was very shy, and I would tell people that but wouldn’t perform to anyone. It puts that doubt in your head, because all of the artists you listen to and look up to were performers, performing at their school and whatever. I was like, ‘How the hell am I going to do that?’ But a part of me knew that when the moment would come, I’d do it.”

Glam describes her sound as a blend of pop, urban and Middle Eastern music. The latter in particular she wanted to bring to the forefront on her new EP, Realness.

“I really wanted to concentrate on being honest with my lyrics, and the stuff that I’m talking about, the story behind it,” she says. “I was always like, I don’t want to do music to just do music, I wanted to do music with a message. Be vulnerable and share stories that are harder to talk about usually but with my music I can express myself and hopefully help other people that might go through the same stuff that I have.”

The EP isn’t being released in the traditional way. There’ll be no one-drop EP release. Rather, four singles will be dropped, each forming a quarter of the EP.

“Two of the EP’s singles are already out,” she says. “The first one was ‘Free,’ the second is ‘Realness.’ The third single is called ‘Shut Up’ and the fourth is ‘Unbothered.’ They should all be out by February 26. I’m calling those four singles the EP. They’re released every few weeks but they’re cohesive as one project.”

The title track, she says, is about being your true self, letting your real self out. 

“It’s very fun,” she says. “It’s upbeat. I wanted to bring out celebrating our own uniqueness. Society always tells guys if they’re not manly enough, or for women there are so many boxes they try to put us in instead of letting us discover our true self and celebrate our uniqueness. This whole project is about that – bringing your true self to the surface.”

The EP, of course, was recorded during the COVID lockdown, though she says the creative process has been therapeutic.

“It let me be more creative,” she says. “We’re all at home most of the time, so I was writing more, expressing myself more, and I was really sitting down with my feelings and what I wanted the message to be. I really sang about subjects that I’ve never talked about. I didn’t even share with my family the stuff that I was going through. To come out, put it in a song and share it with the world is definitely a crazy step for me and a place where I was very vulnerable, but I feel like the whole lockdown stuff let us sit down with ourselves more. Educating ourselves about stuff that’s going on with the world, and for me it let me be more creative for sure.”

As for 2021, Glam is planning a livestreamed show to celebrate the EP release, before the vaccine hopefully allows her to perform properly later in the year. Whatever happens, Yarin Glam will be keeping it real.

Yarin Glam’s single “Realness” is out now. 

LA Weekly