John Van Deusen: A new chapter
by CAITLIN COHEN
After Anacortes’s Lonely Forest split in 2014, front man John Van Deusen took a break from music, did some traveling with his wife, Annababe, then settled back into his cozy hometown. John’s life in the music world might have been a rapid, chaotic rollercoaster but getting off the ride didn’t make his life come to a screeching halt.
This break was a period of growth. Looking back through his musical career up to today, John learned a lot about himself and the people dear to him. He focused on rebuilding his most important relationships: his marriage and his personal relationship with music.
“I kind of lost sight of why I was playing music and writing songs in the first place. One of the reasons the Lonely Forest ended was because it wasn’t conducive to my marriage,” John said. “The Lonely Forest represented my personal dreams and desires but didn’t really include my wife’s desires as much… it wasn’t healthy for us. We both needed a break. We needed to do something together… it felt really nice to go somewhere new—where no one knew who we were and where we didn’t belong naturally.”
Another eye opener was how very personal lyrics in some of the Lonely Forest songs impacted the people closest to him.
“A lot of the Lonely Forest songs had to do with my relationship failures with my now wife because we had a really rocky dating relationship and first couple years of marriage…I broke up with her a couple of times and got distracted by someone else, and I would write about that… I was pretty self absorbed and oblivious to how that impacted her and it was pretty painful for her because she would come to shows and I would be singing about another person or how I left her… it took me a while to get my head out of my ass and realize that what I write impacts people,” John said.
After taking a break from music, he’s started his relationship with music over again and has branched out to try something new. Today, John, Annababe, and their friends play in a band together during their free time.
John also plays in a punk band, Buffet. He describes playing in the band as fun and therapeutic because it’s low pressure, he gets to play bass, he can yell, and he plays with close friends. Their music is angrier, nosier, louder, faster, and more lighthearted—which highly contrasts the Lonely Forests’ epic modern songs.
He also has major plans for new solo projects—including an album series. The Universal Sigh will be released June 9. Although all the songs are never released Lonely Forest songs, the album is sonically different. There’s more of a pop focus by channeling Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel.
“In some ways I feel really far away from these songs because they’re so old… one of my goals in my song writing now is to confuse people… I’m trying to release four albums in the next two years; I just finished my second album in the series… it will be about my spiritual beliefs—prayers, hymns, and things like that—I know that will confuse and turn off a lot of people,” John said. “The goal is to release music that reflects my entire life which involves spirituality, depression, failed relationships, being a total asshole at times, being happy, and being angry. It’s really easy to shy away from being honest about everything and I want to be honest about everything. A lot of people may not like them and I have to get over that. I have to try to recalibrate myself and figure out why I’m releasing them in the first place. If I’m doing it to please other people, then I’m probably doing something wrong.”
John Van Deusen will perform at the Lincoln Theatre on June 9 for his album release show of the Universal Sigh. To stay posted with his work or contact him for performing house shows, check out his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/iamjohnvandeusen/.
Published in the June 2017 issue of What’s Up! Magazine