John Van Ness’ musical journey started in 1990 when he decided to learn to play guitar during his Freshman year of college. He developed his chops as a guitarist and songwriter during his formidable years as co-founding member of the band VAN NESS (with brother Joshua).
When VAN NESS disbanded in 2002, John stepped away from live performances to focus on writing and producing.
In 2011. he created My Own little World Records. The motivation for starting MOLWR was to keep diversity, quality and integrity alive in today’s music. He would later return to the stage playing guitar and keys with MOR (Men of Rock – a gigging band created by his brother Joshua Van Ness).
As a recording engineer, producer, writer and musician, John has many credits to his name including Josh Sallo, Brett Fuentes, Jonathan Andrew, Mikey Arto and more.
In this interview spotlight, we chat with John about influences, challenges, the latest project and more.
Full Q&A along with links and streams below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.
I was born and raised in Somerville, NJ and grew up in a household where I was exposed to all types of music. Everything from Ricky Lee Jones to Parliement/Funkadelic to Fleetwood Mac to Willie Nelson to Stevie Wonder. The list is really too long to name them all! As a result though, my music doesn’t fit well into one category. There are definitely moments of RnB and Soul influence along with classic rock and even some jazz influences as well. As a writer and musician, I’ve come to appreciate that diversity because never want to repeat myself. I like have no barriers and limitations on my art. If I end writing a Polka song next week, as long as its real and from the heart I will go with it!
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
I’ve always loved listening to music. As a youngster I use to play DJ spinning my 45’s underneath my little brother’s crib. He grew up listening to Pink Floyd’s Brick in the Wall, Heart of Glass and One Way or Another by Blondie and Flashlight (Parliement) pretty much non stop! I always assumed I’d end up as a radio personality. I didn’t actually start making my own music until I went to college though. I feel in love with the acoustic guitar. Most guys get hooked by the loud sexy screaming guitars but it was intricate arpeggios that made me want to play. Eventually I started a band with my brother (Joshua Van Ness), which led me down the path of song writing. I continue today mainly out of my love of quality music with diversity and integrity It’s why I started my own indie label, My Own Little World Records (MOLWR). I want to make sure the kind of music and musicians I enjoy today still have an outlet in this ever-changing music business landscape.
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
All of my previous releases were either part of a band or I was the producer and Engineer. The Great Escape is my first Solo release. While I do have a handful of songs with featured artists, this album, for better or worse, is all about me and my path as person and the constant search for love and happiness. I’ve written songs on other albums before but I’ve really exposed myself on this album. My goal with it was simply to connect with people on a personal level. Hopefully folk will relate to something and it will provide some level of comfort and or enjoyment to them.
Do you face challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? How has technology helped you (assuming it helps)?
The digital age is a blessing and a curse for indie musicians. The good thing is that everyone has a chance to get their music out there and be heard. The bad side is that EVERYONE has a chance to get their music out there and be heard. There’s just so much out there for consumers to choose from these days that it’s difficult to differentiate yourself from the masses. Developing a legitimate revenue stream in the age of streaming is a major challenge. Streaming is pays for the major acts who get 20 million streams a week. Indie artist only see revenue with fans are kind enough to purchase music whether it be a CD or download. That’s why I’m always so grateful for fans who understand this and choice to support independent music.
Where can we connect with you online and discover more music?
- Connect with me on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/molwr
- My Own little world records – http://myownlittleworldrecords.com
- sample tracks from The Great Escape at – https://johnvanness.hearnow.com/
- itunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-great-escape/id1276876770
- CDBaby – https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/johnvanness
Anything else before we sign off?
Now more than ever, I hope everyone finds love and happiness. Music is a great source of both for me and it is my great escape!