Sunset Sessions – An Inside Look with Kevin Martin

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Sunset Sessions–a private, four-day music industry retreat held at the Rancho Bernardo Inn–draws hundreds of radio programmers and music supervisors for films, TV shows, videos, and commercials. For fifteen years, Michele Clark has been putting on this exclusive event that showcases over 50 performers. This year’s performers included Lucinda Williams, Jimmy Cliff, Jason Mraz, and a handful of local San Diego talent, as well. One of the representatives of San Diego’s local talent was Kevin Martin who offered up an inside glimpse of his experience of this invite-only event.

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How did you get involved with Sunset Sessions?

After seeing a lot of my friends play Sunset Sessions and have success from it, I decided to contact them and see if I could play. Michele Clark puts the whole thing together and she loved my music and invited me to play.

What songs did you play this weekend at the event?

I played “Fall Again,” “TV News,” “I Need Your Love,” and “Lie To Me.” They are all on my album Throwback Pop.

Why did you choose to play those songs?

“Fall Again” is most people’s favorite song on the album. It would probably be the radio single. “TV News” is my favorite song on the album so I chose it for me. “I Need Your Love” is such a catchy song. I figured if I could get a song stuck in their head, then they might go and listen to my entire album. “Lie To Me” was chosen because it’s super intense. Tim Pyles from FM 94.9 told me at a show that he loved that song specifically. I had cello and violin players with me and felt it showed another side of me they didn’t get from the other songs. I really just wanted to get people’s attention so they would listen to the rest of my album.

What did you enjoy the most about the experience?

There were over 50 artists that played over the three days of Sunset Sessions. I realized that nobody would know who I was unless I wore my bear hat that I’m wearing on the cover of my album. So I did. All three days I was “that bear guy.” But people seemed to really love it. I had fun with it and I noticed it worked. People were talking to me asking me questions about my music, and in general, seemed to be genuinely interested in what I was all about. That was kind of trippy to me. Also, I got to meet Lucinda Williams and watch an intimate performance by her. She loved my bear hat and was petting it and laughing with me while I told her about how I got it. That was a highlight for me. I’ve been listening to her music for a long time and I really respect her as a songwriter.

The event brings together a lot of different entities of the music industry, film, radio, etc. Where do you see your songs fitting in the best? Or where would you like to see your songs placed if you could have them appear anywhere?

Honestly, I believe my songs have a wide range of possibilities. I’ve always written pop songs. No matter how you look at them, they are pop songs. I think they could be placed in commercials/film/TV and radio. People just don’t know who I am yet. The whole goal for me is to get as many people to hear my music as possible. Getting songs placed or supported by radio would be great for me. I’m ready to make the leap.

Who did you meet at the Sunset Sessions that impressed you the most, and why?

This was my first time hearing Rumer. She sounds like a modern day Karen Carpenter. She has a great contemporary pop sound that is definitely inspired by Burt Bacharach and The Carpenters. I really was impressed by her voice and her songwriting. Also, the band “Fun” was another stand out performance. They have very creative production and interesting melodies and lyrics. They have a theatrical element to their music that was surprising and really inspiring for someone like me.

What was your favorite part about the event?

I really enjoyed meeting all the other artists and talking with them. I thrive on interacting with people, so I really had a lot of fun just talking with people. I met a father and son that own a radio station in Connecticut. They don’t get out of town much and were really excited to be there. They watched my showcase and ended up becoming my buddies. Who knows, maybe they’ll start playing my album in Connecticut?

Wanna learn more about Kevin Martin? Listen/download/buy his album “Throwback Pop” here.

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