John West
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John West


Band Pop Soul


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John West Live - 2007
John West LP - 2006



During John’s first year of college at Louisiana State University, a buddy brought him to a G. Love & Special Sauce concert. “Right after that I wrote my first song,” he recalls. The following summer his sister Anna invited him to come stay with her in Chicago. Living away from his small hometown lead to an intense time of self-discovery and reinvention, especially as she introduced him into the local artistic community in the Windy City.

John credits Anna, a spoken word poet, as a major catalyst in his songwriting path. Worried that he had to “dumb it down” for his audience, he was writing clichéd love songs but she told him, ‘It doesn’t have to be trite; you could transcend that and it can still be pop-y by saying it in a way it’s never been said. That’s what’s gonna get people.’”

After returning home at the end of Summer 2001, John decided to move to Chicago and transfer to Columbia College Chicago. After meeting a music producer on campus, he was soon recording a demo with some friends and Craigslist ad respondents under the group name Green Street, leading to a performance at Columbia College Chicago’s Manifest Urban Arts Festival, which in turn resulted in follow-up gigs at hip local spots like Subterranean.

In late ’05, John decided to move to Los Angeles (the lovely Echo Park, to be exact) with a few friends to concentrate on his music career, though he’s also paid bills as a substitute teacher. “You’d think that you’d move to L.A. and you would lose your soul. Or so they say,” he laughs. “But when I got here my purpose deepened, and when that happens you can’t stop that from translating into your work.” Just to put his money where his mouth is, he continues to donate a signficant percentage of his music earnings to charities, including Hurricane Katrina relief and art programs for displaced youth.

At his shows and online, John began selling an 11-track, self-released album, though the tracklisting constantly changes; as he comes up with new tracks, older ones get bumped. “My songs are like journal entries in some ways,” he says, and if so, his diary makes for quite an interesting read. “I want to do something people listen to and walk away a little different.” His current signature song “Loved You Tonight” was inspired by a friend “who was always getting into MySpace crushes,” while the reflective “Masquerade” offers guidance for those “lost in the circus,” “lost in the maze.” He ponders if “maybe dayjobs pollute us” as he implores dreamers to persist with the anthemic “Gravity.”

“This world is too fast and it’s too hectic and it’s super crazy,” John says. “People are stressing out all the time about all sorts of things and if I can provide a little bit of relaxation, then that’s cool.”