Van Hunt interview

Van Hunt

Van Hunt is getting ready to release his new album, ‘What Were You Hoping For?’, and I’ve been lucky to have a listen ahead of release.

The album is refreshingly ‘out there’! Exciting, lush layers of harmonies, excellent guitars, and an interesting – daring, even – mix throughout the album. Risque lyrics at times along with sexy vocals, and the production is top notch.

After listening to ‘What Were You Hoping For?’ – it would be great to check out Van and the band’s live show.

Jenny May: Did you play many of the instruments on your new album ‘What Were You Hoping For?’?

Van Hunt: I did play many of the instruments for this new collection, but there are large portions of the instrumentation being supplied by other performers. Ruth Price handles most of the drums, and Peter Dyer the keyboards.

What was your recording process?

Of my small list of engineer friends, I inquired about the most highly regarded, budget-friendly studio. Surprisingly, one of them was kind enough to suggest his own place ;) Before the start of those sessions, I recorded some demonstrations at home. Then Ruth and I went into a rehearsal studio, so that I could acclimate her to the fast tempos on the record. She and I began recording her drum parts to my new and old guitars – leaving most of the demonstration vocals on the recordings. I then sent the tracks to Peter who built an ozone layer (if you will) around the music. I then finished the vocals before sending the tracks to Nashville to be mixed.

Did you record the album in one studio?

Yes. Santa Fe Tracking Station.

Do you prefer a certain way of recording/environment/time of day/lighting etc.?

My favorite way/environment/time of day/lighting for recording is when I am working on something that I am convinced will show people I’m serious about what I do. Of course, my least favorite way of recording is when I feel what I’m doing sux. I realize how ridiculous that is :)

Did you arrange the songs yourself – your vocal harmonies, the guitars, arrangements and mixes are amazing – or did you work with someone else/a producer?

Thank you! I arranged the melody and accompaniment of the songs, myself, but Ruth and Peter contributed their own ideas during their performances. The mixing process brought yet another layer of creativity to the project via the very talented Melissa Mattey.

How did you work together?

I was in the studio with Ruth for the drums. Peter flew in his parts, and I edited them later. Melissa mixed via E(engine ear) mail.

I think some of your tracks have a bit of a Jimi Hendrix vibe. Are you a Hendrix fan? What do you think of him?

I love Hendrix as much as the next girl. I appreciate your generosity, but I feel Hendrix built a world of sound different from mine. Less immediate, perhaps. I think my songs are in more of a hurry. Hendrix could solo all day and wrote lyrics that sounded like Venusian poetry.

How did you end up with the musicians in the band, when you go on tour? Have you been getting ready to hit the road; rehearsing?

Ruth and Peter auditioned for me in 2007. I liked them immediately. They will be with me on tour. We will add a few more elements to the touring group. I’ve been arranging the show and will commence rehearsing them soon.

Do you plan to tour in the UK?


Why wasn’t your album ‘Popular’ released? That must have been a difficult time.

All sins are forgiven.

What are some differences now, from before, with how you’re handling your new release, ‘What Were You Hoping For?’

Well, I’m much more aware of the shape of the marketing campaign. The collection is being released through Thirty Tigers and my own label, godless-hotspot, so there is a heightened sense of responsibility for me.

Do you like living in Los Angeles? Where are some of your favorite places that you like to go in the area?

I love every crazy inch of LA. It is the reflection of what America is and where it is going. I enjoy being convinced that I am living on the frontline of societal changes. I’m from the Midwest, and many people think of LA as the antithesis of the Midwest’s blue collar grunt. And they are right, but Los Angeles grinds down its middle class as well as any other city. If you arrive in LA with the idea that you will work hard for what you want, the only real difference is the weather and the opportunities that exist inside a multicultural make-up.

Who are some of your favorite songwriters?

Oh, glad you asked! Bach, Thelonious Monk, David Bowie, Sly Stone, early Prince, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and George Clinton.

Van Hunt – new album + September/October 2011 tour dates

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Van Hunt Official Website
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By: Jenny May