An Interview With Trunk Show Creator Matt Sanderlin
You’re one of the busiest musicians we know here in Birmingham. Tell us what projects you have your hands in these days.
This question comes at a good time – one of my big goals this year has been to prioritize my different projects.
My long-standing solo work is a cross between singer-songwriter music and any other genre that I’m inspired by at the time. Under that name (Matt Sanderlin), I’ve been featured many times on BMR, opened for people like Drew Holcomb, and released several EP’s and a concept album.
I also lead two bands – Parishop, which we call “dream pop;” and Perfect Hair Forever, which is a punk pop band. In addition to that, I do some production work, teach guitar at Mason Music, and am structuring a record label called Velvet Records.
Most recently, I’ve been putting together Trunk Show, which is a live-performance web series on YouTube!
Obviously songwriting is a huge love of yours. You’ve even worked with some of your students to help them create music. How rewarding is that, to be able to work with the next generation of musicians?
I really do love writing. It’s saved my life so many times. I started writing songs in high school. They were laughable and bad at first, but after I took some theory classes and spent time honing my craft, the good songs started coming. I was then able to express myself confidently, and it honestly shaped who I am as a person in many positive ways.
I see that same passion in some of my students. Brooke Holloway (one of my former guitar students) and I worked on five of her original songs. We practiced her songs many times to iron out the kinks, and then we prepared the songs for recording. Brooke is very musically inclined, so the writing came easily to her, and then she worked tirelessly to perfect her songs. We recorded her EP with Brad Timko at the Mason Music Recording Studio and I produced it. It was such a rewarding experience to see her process. She would start with just a song name or a lyric, and then we would build that into a song; and ultimately, we recorded a fun, memorable final product. I hope more of my students will pursue this path.
As if all that wasn’t enough, you found time to create a Trunk Show series. What are you, Superman!? What inspired this idea?
The idea for Trunk Show was such a happy accident. My friend Marie Yates (a former teacher at Mason Music) and I had a writer’s club that we led every week. She was writing a novel, and I was trying to improve my lyrics, and writer’s club inspired us to work consistently. After our meeting one night, we ended up jamming ukuleles on the back of my car in a parking lot. We talked about how fun it would be to do unplugged performances on the trunk of a car – but with an audience. When I got home that night, I could barely sleep because I started to imagine these performances being filmed and recorded like NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert,” and I was so inspired by the idea. I then got a great crew (Marvin Video) involved, and we shaped it into a web show. It’s a simple premise, but everyone who has been a part of it so far has loved the idea. I’m very excited about the result!
A great idea usually take a village of people to accomplish. Who do you have on your team helping produce the series?
Big shoutout to Robin Rains, Frank Thagard, and Brandon Garten at Marvin Video. They are such fun, professional people to work with! Kyle Nix designed our logo, and we’ve had great photographers like Jazmine McCarty and William Yarbrough join us behind-the-scenes.
Tell us about some of the artists who’ve appeared in the series.
We have had all kinds of great guests: John Sims of Lady Legs, Preston Lovinggood, Connor McCullum and Callie Wilson. Each of these talented people are artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with in one way or another. The episodes (and free mp3’s of the Trunk Show performances) are available on our YouTube channel.