Q&A with UWO alum and musician John Statz

Kaitlyn Scoville

UWO Alum John Statz graduated in 2006 and now lives in Colorado where he makes music.

John Statz is a musician and UW Oshkosh alumnus who attended from fall 2002 to spring 2006 with a double major in music and history. He grew up in Dane, Wis., and now lives in Denver, Colo. as a part-time musician and also works part-time with a handmade tile company.

He can be found on Spotify by searching his name.

Why did you choose to pursue music?

It was my biggest love throughout schooling. When I graduated high school and went to Oshkosh, I thought I wanted to be a high school band director. I started as a music ed major, and I realized that wasn’t for me. I don’t think I even thought about going to school for anything else.

What inspired you to perform instead of teach?

I started playing guitar when I was 15 and just started singing right away with it. I never really had any classical singing training, but that’s all I really wanted to do when I got my acoustic guitar, was to sing Cat Stevens or Jack Johnson. I used to sing a lot of Ben Harper songs [too].

When I lived in the South Scott dorm, on the sixth floor — it was called the Student Artists in Residence floor, the “Star” floor at the time — everybody was an artist or a musician or an actor. I met all these other people that were starting to write songs and I was like ‘Wow, I could write songs too, instead of just singing cat Stevens and Jack Johnson.’ We would go down to Titan Underground for open mic, I would just sing Ben Harper all the time and I just got more comfortable with performing there.

How has UWO shaped you into who you are today?

It was an interest in singing other people’s songs and it just never really occurred to me to write my own until I saw other people that were. The scene at the time had a lot to do with it as far as the music goes. Nathan Edwards, who is the current recording tech professor there, he went through the Star program. We were freshmen at the same time and he was writing songs. We recorded my first album when we lived together in a house on Church Ave.

Why did you move to Colorado?

I’ve been here, just around Labor Day, it’ll be 10 years. I was 26, had lived in Wisconsin my whole life, and I just wanted to be in a bigger city. We came out here a lot as a family when I was growing up to go skiing and hiking in the summer. I didn’t know anything about the city of Denver really, but I knew that I loved the mountains. It wasn’t a business move.

Have you stuck to performing a certain genre of music in your career?

I kind of just consider it myself, a singer/songwriter in the singer/songwriter genre. My first album or a couple of other albums have been more folky, but a lot of them have been more rock. For me, my love of music is anything that includes songs and songwriting.

What does a day in the life look like for you?

For most of my career as a songwriter, I’ve had a part-time job of one sort or another. So for the last eight years now, I’ve had a part-time job working at this handmade tile company, and it’s been an amazingly flexible job. Some weeks I would work four or five days and I would just tell them when I had a tour coming up.

Then I might be on the road for anywhere from five days to three weeks or every now and then even five weeks. Sometimes I’d be sick of touring and want to be home and I’d get to be home and I’d get to spend time here with friends and loved ones. Then I’d get sick of that and I’d get to go hit the road again.

What advice do you have to incoming freshmen?

Find your people. When I was in high school, I had a group of friends that was just because we lived close or had classes together, but then in college I found the musicians and the artists and the people that I am more strongly connected with. I think that there’s such an opportunity to do that starting fresh.