Interview with John Van Ness:
My Own Little World Records proudly announces the release of The Great Escape, the long awaited solo debut album from John Van Ness. The Great Escape is an eclectic, 13 song collection of original compositions that seamlessly fuses neo-soul/RnB, pop, rock and Jazz.
Where are you from?
Edison NJ – born and raised in Somerville, NJ
How long have you been making music?
My musical journey started in 1990 when I decided to learn how to play guitar during my freshman year in college. I developed his chops as a guitarist and song writer during my formidable years as a co-founding member of the band VAN NESS (with brother Joshua) during the mid 90”s through 2002.
When VAN NESS disbanded in 2002, I stepped away from live performances to focus on writing and producing. In 2011. I created My Own little World Records. The motivation for starting MOLWR was to keep diveristy, quality and integrity alive in today’s music. I returned to the stage playing guitar and keys with MOR (Men of Rock – gigging band created by brother Joshua Van Ness).
How many songs /albums have you released to date?
The Great Escape is my first album release as an artist but I’ve produced albums for several other artists including:
Josh Sallo – Josh Sallo – 2007
A Tall Tale on Johnson Road – Brett Fuentes – 2008
DNA ( ’08) Discovering the Universe – Joshua Van Ness (’11)
The Ropes – Jonathan Andrew 2011
We the People – Mikey Arto 2013
Someday Sessions – Joshua Van Ness & MOR – 2014
Diaries of the Extraordinarily Beautiful – Mikey Jahbree Wooley – 2015
The Great Escape – John Van Ness – 2017
Can you tell us about your latest release and the background and inspirations behind it?
I grew up listening to everything so I appreciate diversity in music – my favorite artists never fit into one genre. With that said, The Great Escape is all over the place. There’s definitely a RnB/Neo Soul lean to it but there’s moments of pop, rock and Jazz sprinkled in. Escaping reality and finding whatever or whoever brings you happiness is the underlying theme to all of the songs on this album
How have you ended up in the music industry?
I’ve been making music with my brother Joshua Van Ness since the mid 90’s but I didn’t get serious until I created My Own Little World Records in 2011. I started my own label because I didn’t like the direction the industry was headed. Majors are not interested in developing and grooming new artists. Quality and diversity was getting hard to find in mainstream music. I want to continue to write and produce music with integrity and diversity. I want to keep real music alive.
What do you think of the music industry in 2016?
The music industry today hectic, scattered and exhilarating! There is so much out there to listen to – some good – some bad. It’s a challenge to get the attention of music fans with everyone screaming for attention. But the good news is, with a little bit of effort, fans have the opportunity to find exactly what suits them and they have more access to their favorite artists than ever before.
Who do you think the most influential artist?
I listen to so much music from virtually every genre but love soul rock artists like Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Prince. I am also a huge Neil Finn fan and of course anyone who considers themselves a songwriter has been influenced by The Beatles
Who have you collaborated with so far in your career?
I produced Joshua Van Ness’ first three full length albums, DNA, Discovering the Universe and The Someday Sessions (with MOR). Also worked with Brett Fuentes, Jonathan Andrew, Mikey Jahbree Wooley and Josh Sallo among others.
How do you think you differ from other artists?
I’m self-taught on every instrument I play. I also have a birth defect called arthrogryposis. While it primarily effect my legs (I leg braces and a wheelchair) it does effect my hands a little so I’ve had to find my own way to things on guitar and keyboards. With that said, my approach to chords is noticeably different than most people
Dead or alive, who would be your dream collaboration?
It would be intimidating but I would have loved to work with Prince, Jimi, Van Hunt, Neil Finn, Seal and Meshell Ndegeocello
What was the first album you bought?
on vinyl, The Long Run by the Eagles. The first CD I ever purchased Melissa Etheridge’s debut
What’s your favourite song at the moment?
I love so many different artists and songs so this is always subject to change but I’m 5 favorites today are
1. Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix – Everything I love about guitar in 2:31
2. While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles – songwriting at its best
3. Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding – Amazing character to his voice
4. I Got You – Split Enz – Neil Finn may be my favorite song writer/amazing hook
5. Anotherlovawholeinyohead – Prince – He was simply the best
If you had to sell your music collection tomorrow, what album would you leave in your draw?
Let me keep Songs from the Key of Life, Sign O’ the Times and the Beatles (White album) and I’m good
What is your favourite saying?
My daddy used to say if you didn’t get slapped you didn’t try hard enough!
What other hobbies or interests do you have?
I love sports (NY Mets and Cleveland Browns) and my dog Hennessy! When I’m not making music or working I’m working out and spending time with family.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
no – I have a very low tolerance for pain but if I were to get a tattoo it would be a picture of my Rottweiler, Hennessy on my left shoulder
Tell us more about your upcoming project or this new project?
Descent, Taurée’s first album with MOLWR, will be released in the summer of 2018. While he has recorded and released projects on his own, we consider. Descent to be his official debut. I’m so excited about this project. Taurée is an extraordinary talent and he’s going to take the world by storm!
What’s in the pipeline after this project?
I am currently producing an album for Tauree, one of the Guest vocalists on The Great Escape. . We expect it to be released in June 2018. I will be joining him onstage I’m also hoping to get started new music from Joshua Van Ness in the near future. My follow up to the Great Escape is also in the works
Thank you for your time and may you carry on making great, fresh music.
I wanted to give a special thank you to all the folks who continue to support independent artists like myself. Every purchase, like, follow and share goes a long way to keeping real music alive so keep showing the love!