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INTERVIEW: John Van Deusen

Hi John, welcome to VENTS! How are you today?

Hello. I am doing well today. I’ve been in Toronto for the last couple of days and it was special to be here and experience the Toronto Raptor’s championship victory. What a special night for Canada! 

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Whatever Makes You Mine”?

‘Whatever Makes You Mine’ is a straight forward rock song about loneliness and the overwhelming need for a comforting presence in our lives, especially amidst moments of fear and depression. 

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I was staying alone at a lodge in the Cascade mountains when I started experiencing some fear in the middle of the night; I couldn’t sleep so I wrote and demoed this song in order to overcome my feelings of uneasiness.  

The single comes off your new album (I Am) Origami Pt. 3 – A Catacomb Hymn – what’s the story behind the title?

The album series I’m working on is called ‘(I Am) Origami’; a title I chose because it clearly represents my tendency to shape shift, cross genres and explore lyrical concepts while still maintaining a common core of songwriting and vocal tone. I like the phrase ‘A Catacomb Hymn’ because it represents a tension that I’m fond of; a hymn is a spiritual song and a catacomb is a place to bury the dead, often underneath cathedrals. I liked the idea of reframing and redefining what qualifies as a hymn and since this album deals with depression and suicide, I felt like a catacomb was an appropriate symbol to attach to the album.  

Does this new installment follow the same themes as the previous ones?

This installment seems to focus more on depression, suicide and loneliness than the other two in the series. 

Would you consider this a conceptual record, and did you decide to treat it that way going in?

I would not consider this album a concept album in the traditional sense of the term. I tend to write a lot of songs and usually I put them in groups that seem to make sense together. I felt like these 10 songs worked well together and communicated my desired message, which in this case is “it’s ok to not be ok”, a sentiment I believe a lot of people need to hear and digest. 

How was the recording and writing process?

The recording process for this album was so much fun. I demoed the songs alone and then flew down to Ranchland Studios (Cisco, TX) with my good friends Andy, Braydn and Sam. Together we recorded 24 songs in 9 days, which was a total rush. 

What was it like to work with Andy D. Park and how did that relationship develop?

Working with Andy is an extreme joy and privilege. We first met when my old band The Lonely Forest was recording at the legendary Studio X in Seattle, WA. Andy was the house engineer there and we quickly became friends. I told him I wanted to record a solo album and he offered to help. Our working relationship developed from there. 

Andy is one of the best up and coming producers in the business. He has great pop sensibility, a deep knowledge of audio engineering and a real gift with diplomatic communication, which is of paramount importance. I think Andy and I balance each other out pretty well; I tend to push things too far and he tends to pull me back closer to Earth. 

How much did he get to influence the album?

I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to accomplish with this album. Andy simply helped me get from point A to point B. I’d say he definitely made the album more listenable. It wouldn’t have happened without him, that’s for sure. 

Your music has similar vibes to Manchester Orchestra and Death Cab For Cutie. Would you consider them influences? 

I would absolutely consider Death Cab For Cutie an influence on my music. I think Trasatlanticism is a near perfect album.  

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Usually I draw my lyrics from deep personal experiences and moods. If I’m struggling, I tend to write songs as a therapeutic tool and my output is usually higher if I’m sad or depressed.  

Any plans to hit the road?

I will be touring Europe in the fall. I don’t have any concrete plans to tour the US/CA but here’s to hoping! 

What else is happening next in John Van Deusen’s world?

Well, my album will come out on July 19th! After that I guess I’ll get working on the next one. Thanks for asking! 

Check it out here: https://spoti.fi/2Vse4Da

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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