Interview with Nashville-based singer/songwriter Matthew Solberg

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

 Dave Carew

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To make sure homeless human beings receive the food, love, and friendship they need, please donate to the Nashville Rescue Mission by calling (615) 255-2475 or by visiting NashvilleRescueMission.org.  Thank you.

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Interview with singer/songwriter Matthew Solberg

By Dave Carew

Matthew Solberg first came to my attention when I learned he had spearheaded the Elliott Smith Tribute Concert presented at The Mercy Lounge in late 2009.  Since then, Matthew has been working on his just-released full-length debut album, Matthew Solberg, which, he says, features songs influenced by Elliott Smith, Daniel Johnston, The Beatles, Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Neutral Milk Hotel, and others.

Interestingly, Matthew—who plays out in Nashville very seldom—has had decent success as an “Internet musician,” promoting his music primarily online.  Underground Nashville asked Matthew about that—and about his new record in general—in this brief interview:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: What was the creative vision behind your new record? What are you trying to achieve with it artistically and musically?

MATTHEW SOLBERG: I think one of my main goals was to make songs that I like. With my first [EP], I sort of just tried to write songs that I thought had good/meaningful lyrics and that showcased some guitar skills—but at the time I was only beginning to get a sense of melody and how to sing. With this new album, I suppose I wanted to take what I did on the EP (focus on lyrics and guitar), and sort of expand on that by adding in some more instrumentation (including more vocal parts) and focusing more on melody.

UN: In the past year, you have mostly been an “Internet musician” and have enjoyed some success spreading your music that way.  Specifically how are you using the Internet to reach music fans and raise your visibility as an artist?

MS: Besides making my first two albums available for free download, I’ve spent quite a bit of time marketing my music online, specifically by contacting bloggers and by advertising. I estimate that my first album got downloaded about 700 times, and it also got radio play in seemingly random countries. That might not sound like much to some, but to me—as an unknown solo artist releasing his first record—it’s reassuring. I couldn’t tell you how many live shows I would have had to have played to get that same effect, but I’m guessing it would be a pretty high number.


For more information about Matthew Solberg and to hear or download Matthew’s music, please visit matthewsolberg.com.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor/writer of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

 

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