Tell us your real names, country of birth, and childhood experience.
I was born and raised in Somerville NJ, USA.
Tell us your academic qualification.
I studied communications in college and I’ve been playing guitar for 26 years now. I started playing guitar in college. Later taught my piano and bass guitar.
Tell us about your music career, band name, musical background, experience, and skills.
My musical journey started in 1990 when I decided to learn how to play guitar during my freshman year in college. I developed as a guitarist and songwriter 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 diversity, 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).
Tell us about your genre, concept, and idea behind your music video and the song.
I grew up listening to everything so I appreciate diversity in music – my favorite artists all fit in into multiple genres. With that said, The Great Escape is all over the place. There’s definitely an RnB/Neo Soul lean to it but there are moments of pop, rock and Jazz sprinkled in. The music video for “February” is a performance video designed to help folks get through what a lot of people consider to be the longest and coldest month of the year. This also turns out to be a nice introduction to the world for the featured vocalist Tauree.
Tell us how to run a record label independently and successfully based on your experience as an artist.
I’m learning something new about the process and business every day. I try to make the most of my time by being picky about the artists and music I’m endorsing. I need to be 100% behind their music and for the right reasons. I’ve made the conscious decision to pass on artists that may have been more commercially viable than anything that I’ve done because the music and message just did not feel right to me. At the end of the day, I need to feel good about every aspect that MOLWR is involved in – even if it means sacrificing commercial success. With that said, I don’t always measure success by sales and numbers. Success can also come from experiencing the impact that music can have on others. I also look at an artist’s evolution and progression as a measure of success.
Tell us how you are promoting your music.
Social media and word of mouth are still the most effective tools. One fan at a time turns into momentum.
Tell us what makes you happy and what makes you sad.
Happiness comes in simple things. Being able to slow down and enjoy moments with people you love. Music and walking my dog are sources of happiness Guitars also make me happy. I have 20 guitars! The state of the world often makes me sad. The fact that we still struggle with inequality, racism, and intolerance bothers me to no end.
Explain clearly the story or concept behind the song.
“February” is a song about wanting to love and be loved during the love’s prime-time – the month of Valentine’s Day and Cupid. February is a dangerous and sometimes depressing month when you are single. Sometimes wanting love so bad leaves you vulnerable to even more heartache and pain.
List the radio stations, TV stations, and blogs that have aired or featured your new song.
Music from The Great Escape has been featured on the following stations and blogs:
Spin Charts Radio
Downunda Thunda Radio
96.1FM The Source – Sophie’s SpringBoard Show
Ardenncafe/Amnesia electro – France
KRSC 91.3FM – Rogers St. Univ. InnerVisions Syndicated Radio Show
NBT Music Radio
Evolution 107.9FM – BCIT Campus Radio
IMC Radio – The Better Music Mix
Independent Radio Trier
Spider’s Dirty Rotten Weekend
Middle Tennessee Music
It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine
W.A.A.P Radio Locally International
Front Range Radio
Give us links to where the song can be purchased.
Tell us about other members of your band, music producer, crew, or music video director, how the song was recorded, and how the music video was shot.
The “February” video was shot and directed by the extraordinary Joshua Van Ness. Joshua (my brother) also plays drums on the track and appears in the video. Tauree, the featured vocalist also appears in the video. I wrote and originally recorded “February” almost 8 years ago. The song was reincarnated multiple times and shelved each time until my brother, Josh, stumbled upon it and asked to record live drums on it. Although I wrote lyrics for it, I was prepared to release it as an instrumental track until I heard Tauree’s voice. I considered other vocalists – I even tried to sing but it never made sense until Tauree sang it – it was a perfect match!
Tell us how long you have been in the music industry, your experience, and your future goal.
I’ve been making music since the mid-’90s but I didn’t get serious until I created My Own Little World Records in 2011. I want to continue to write and produce music with integrity and diversity. I want to keep real music alive. I am currently producing Tauree’s official debut album, “Descent”. We expect it to be released in June 2018.
Tell us what makes you unique from others.
I’m self-taught on every instrument I play. I also have a birth defect called arthrogryposis. While it primarily affects my legs
(leg braces and a wheelchair) it does affect 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.
Tell us your weakness and strength pertaining to music.
I know my limitations as a vocalist and a musician in general. With that said, I much prefer letting real singers sing. I think my strengths are writing and producing. I’d like to think my guitar skills are one of my strengths but I also know I still have plenty of room to improve there as well.
List your five favorite songs including the artists.
I love so many different artists and songs so this is always subject to change but my 5 favorites today are
Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix – Everything I love about guitar in 2:31.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles – songwriting at its best.
Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding – Amazing character to his voice.
I Got You – Split Enz – Neil Finn maybe my favorite songwriter/amazing hook.
Anotherlovawholeinyohead – Prince – He was simply the best!
Tell us your position on “DIY” Do It Yourself” and signing to a major label.
Major labels are very numbers and trend-driven. I started MOLWR because I didn’t like the direction the industry was heading in. Majors are not interested in developing and grooming new artists. They only take notice once you’ve developed a significant following or have even sold a good amount on your own. At that point why would you even want to share your hard-earned money with them?
Tell us other activities you will like to pursue apart from music.
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.
List your various works.
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
State links to connect you on social media.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
It’s just me!
State the title of the song and the meaning.
“February” is a song about wanting to love and be loved during the love’s prime-time – the month of Valentine’s Day and cupid.
State the title of the album and the reason for picking the title.
Escaping reality and finding whatever or whoever that brings you happiness is the underlying theme to all of the songs on this album so it seemed only natural to name the album “The Great Escape”.