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Dusty Grant faces down grief, depression with 'Oceans'

Juan Ibanez

Dusty Grant has released a number of acoustic-driven singles in recent years, but he's back with a new song, "Oceans," and a full band this time.

Over the last few years, Wichita musician Dusty Grant has issued a series of dark, brooding acoustic-driven singles. On Friday, April 8, he issues a louder, electrically charged tune, "Oceans," which finds him working with a full band.

Grant worked closely with friend and fellow musician Jason Catlett on the track, which serves as a meditation on grief -- something the singer-songwriter says he's become all-too-familiar with over the last few years.

Interview Highlights

Do you feel comfortable talking a little bit about the lyrical inspiration for this new single, "Oceans"?

The last 18 months were probably the worst 18 months of my entire life. I lost some close friends and another friend was badly injured in an accident. I'd been hiding from some mental illness, I think, for a really long time. Things all kind of hit at once. It just completely threw me for a loop. It was like I didn't even know who I was anymore. I'd never been stricken with grief like that before. It just changed everything for me and made me change my perspective on life, got me into therapy, got me into working on my mental health, got me into addressing some issues that I've had for a long time. The song is kind of about that.

I got into therapy and started learning and understanding grief; I'd never really experienced grief on the level that I experienced it over the last year. I've never really experienced depression like that before; things felt really hopeless. It just got really dark for me there for a while. The song was written at the very … bottom of that.

Hopefully it helps people to feel like they're not alone. Writing music like that is a good way to let people that are experiencing those things to know that they're not alone. I think a lot of times when I'm going through a hard time -- feeling like I'm alone or like I'm crazy, or I'm the only one that feels this way -- to hear that other people do sometimes kind of gets me out of a rut if I feel like I have someone to talk to or identify with.

So the funny thing about grief is … I think about my last big bout with it. I felt like I was walking around with this sort of squiggle over my head at all times. I could go to work, I could do all the normal day-to-day things. But there was just this thing sort of following me around, and it's really not clearly defined and wasn't in a straight line. And I'm never quite sure when it's going to emerge and how it's going to emerge, how it's going to express itself; it's just there.

That's how it is for me, and it comes in waves. That's kind of how [the song] became about oceans because I would be driving to work or something like that -- just a normal routine thing that I do every day – and something would come on my playlist and it would just be like a gut punch. It just knocked the wind out of me and send me back to like I almost was starting over, and grief is that way. I mean it doesn't sting any less as time goes on. You just get better at dealing with it and coping with it and understanding it and accepting it. That's what I've been trying to do. And I'm starting to … turn the corner.

I still feel very down about stuff and it's still obviously heartbreaking stuff to think about. You go from feeling like, "OK, I think I'm doing OK today," to all of a sudden you feel like you're in a dinghy in the middle of the ocean during a hurricane and you're just getting destroyed by it. And so … that's kind of what the whole like dichotomy of the song was.

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.