I first heard Van’s music when I was listening to multiple playlists on Spotify & was impressed by a cover of The Stooges, which I’ll ask him about later but for now let me introduce you to Van Hunt…
Q: You seem to have quite the musical ear..You started playing drums at age 7 and soon after learned to play the sax, bass and keyboards. How many instruments can you actually play? And are there any out there that you’d love to learn?
A: Haha! My biography makes my musicianship seem much more impressive than it is: i can get around on multiple instruments, but only out of necessity — in order to record my songs. I’m not by any means a virtuoso on any instrument. I am, however, confident I can play my songs differently than anyone else, and I can play other people’s songs in ways they never imagine. Lol.
Q: The Grammy nominations were just announced & you’re pretty familiar with getting the call. In ‘04, your single Dust was nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance; favorite song on the album btw and you won in ‘07 for Best Performance by a Duo or Group for the remake collab on Sly & The Family Stone’s ‘Family Affair’. What are the first words that pop into your brain when you hear your name announced as the winner? Any predictions on which artist will be the big artist of the night?
A: My first thought upon hearing my name announced was, “Oh, shit! You mean I gotta get up and talk in front of these people now?” I’m glad you like Dust.. it was the first song I wrote that I predicted would be popular with listeners. It seemed catchy but most of my songs become popular despite my predictions. Lol.. As for this year’s Grammys winner predictions, I didn’t even know the nominations had been announced…but since you asked I tasked myself with skimming over the list; I predict the night’s big winner will be Megan Thee Stallion.
Q: hopeless was just released in November but you actually wrote this song for Dionne Farris in ‘97. Why did you decide to record the song with your vocals & release?
A: ‘hopeless’ was my first song on the radio. It was such a special moment to write a song that’s being played, seemingly, everywhere. It was like a happy avalanche; where you’re buried under this acknowledgment from peers and listening public. There just aren’t many songs like that that a lot of songwriters have in their catalogue and the reason I recorded the song myself was simply because I felt I had something to contribute to its story. The version I released, “hopeless (penny witta a hole in it)’, is actually closer to the arrangement I had originally in my head before it was recorded back in ‘97.
Q: Who are some of your favorite songwriters? And which ones have had the greatest influence in your career so far?
A: Some of my favorite songwriters are Don Raye, Chuck Berry, Bobby Debarge, Molly Sarle, Kurt Vile…. the biggest influences have probably been Bach, Sly Stone and Billy Strayhorn..
Q: Lots of time in isolation in 2020, what type of hobbies, non-related, do you do to keep yourself busy?
A: I love boxing, I watch boxing, I shadowbox, I talk boxing…I also love doing research into the mysteries of the paranormal, ufology, ancient megalithic structures. I’ve done research work for a few episodes of Think Anamalous Channel on YouTube . You can see one of them on the Great Pyramid here: https://youtube.com/c/ThinkAnomalous.
Q: You appeared on Music Diaries in February of this year & spoke about rediscovering your passion for music. Talk a little bit about finding that passion again & why music draws you in emotionally while performing. Vocally & instrumentally, your music is so raw & moving.
A: Well, thank you. I separate songwriting into two parts: the art of storytelling – which is the work of the living, gathering material from the pieces of life, trauma, anxiety, etc. and then there’s the craftsmanship of songwriting – music production, arrangement, performance, engineering. I never lose passion for picking up instruments and making sound and rhythms, but it is the drool of music production and engineering that kills me. It’s a medium that’s subject to workflow issues and it can just kill a vibe…and then if I haven’t been bottled up – if I haven’t been absorbing information and processing without emotional release – then I don’t have this loaded creative force and when I am low on that then I am passionless. When I don’t bullshit myself- when I listen to the creativity working thru me and I pick up that instrument because I really have something to say, then the results can be “raw and moving”.
Q: You released a cover of The Stooges’ No Sense of Crime… your version reminds me of the musical style of Lenny Kravitz’s first album, Let Love Rule …. do you feel like you emulate other artists vocally?
A: I’m a HUGE fan of The Stooges, thru following Iggy Pop’s output, I found the collaboration with James Williamson on Kill City, the album ‘No Sense of Crime’ is on. I’m sure my rhythm and blues and gospel quartet influences show up like Sly Stone, Prince and The Williams Brothers.. I’m afraid I’m not well-versed on Lenny Kravitz’s catalogue but I know he is an iconic figure – so it is an honor to be mentioned alongside him.
Q: Where can fans find your music?
A: Most of my official album catalogue is on Spotify and Apple Music and anywhere music is streamed, under Van Hunt. Rarer items, EPs, singles and playlists can be downloaded for name-your-price at https://vanhunt.bandcamp.com/music.. you can also find those cool shirts on https://vanhunt.bandcamp.com/merch.
Thanks Van for taking the time to speak with me. Be sure to check out the links in the interview and listen to his music, he’s a very talented artist, don’t miss out!
More interviews coming up with Ranky Tanky, Jenna Rae, Madison Olds.. also will be featuring a local teen series of talent artists from Rhode Island..
Until next time, I’m Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias