On Making Music Videos: Q&A with Downtown Creative Matt McElwrath

Matt McElwrath

It all started with a few Downtown residents and a love for music. Matt McElwrath, founder and director of Media Outlaws, is one of the creatives behind the ongoing web show The Loft Sessions, a music video series that was originally filmed in—you guessed it—a Downtown loft. The show recently relocated to the Hill area to work alongside Gaslight, a recording studio and lounge; the program was appropriately renamed The Gaslight Sessions, but the focus on highlighting emerging bands remains the same.

We recently caught up with McElwrath to find out more about his work, the show and Downtown life.

Local music lovers may recognize your work through the popular Loft Sessions and Gaslight Sessions music videos. Why did you launch that series?

We originally launched the Loft Sessions when I moved in to a loft building in Downtown St. Louis and would have friends over to jam. We started noticing friends pulling their phones out trying to record us and we thought to ourselves, “Well, we have some equipment, let’s start recording our friends’ bands that come jam.” It then snowballed into a labor of love. We believe we have one of the best music scenes in the country and wanted to prove it by really running with the video series.

How do you select these musicians, and what is the video creation process like?

The best way to be selected for our show is to submit your music/videos to us along with links to social media. We get a lot of requests every week, so the selection process usually comes down to who we think is a good fit for the day we are looking to shoot. It’s not unusual for a local act to be paired with a touring act. We try to shoot two bands per shoot day.

The video creation process is typically as fun and laid back as we can make it. When the band shows up, we already have the room set up for video. They load in their gear, do a sound check and then begin practicing to get used to seeing a 20-foot crane and four to six cameras in the room. We do each song in one single take, so we like to give them time to get comfortable. After the shoot, one of the audio engineers at Gaslight mixes the audio and we begin the editing process.

What videos should St. Louisans be on the lookout for next?

We’re always excited about every band we have in, but as far as local talent goes, definitely keep an eye out for Brian Owens & The Deacons of Soul, Lydia Caesar and Elliott Pearson Band. For touring bands, we’re really excited about releasing Alex Williams, The Burney Sisters and CATL from Toronto.

You and much of your crew live in Downtown St. Louis. As a creative, what do you like most about Downtown life?

As a creative, I love Downtown living because of our diverse cultural community. It’s easy to get inspired when you have so many amazing artists creating the vibe of our city by putting their art out there for everyone to see and hear. And without being Downtown, we would have potentially never started this video series. Most crew members, past and present, (including current production team members Adam Reed and Nick Adamson) have come together mostly due to meeting each other from living in Downtown St. Louis.