This Podcast Wants To Turn Your Stories Into Songs

For confessors, it can be cathartic. For musicians, it’s a songwriting exercise.

By Leah ScarpelliNovember 8, 2019 1:11 pm

When music gets personal, there’s often a fictional stand-in for the person the songwriter had in mind – think of “Eleanor Rigby,” “Roxanne,” “Me and Bobby McGee” or “Peggy Sue.”

But what if a song was truly written about you?

That’s the idea behind a new Austin-based podcast called Song Confessional. People volunteer to confess something anonymously. And then a band writes a song about the confession.

“Not only have we gotten a positive response from the confessor side of things, but the musicians love it,” says Zac Catanzaro, who with friends Walker Lukens and Aaron Blackerby, produce the podcast.

“It’s a songwriting exercise. You have one day. You’re given the source material. You know, you get to be creative, you get to do your own thing but it’s within a certain box,” Catanzaro says.

Last summer, the three brought Song Confessional’s mobile recording booth to the parking lot of the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Communications. The recording booth is actually inside a vintage blue camper. In front, there’s an audio setup to record the confessions. And toward the back, a door leads to where the confessor sits.

It’s designed like a traditional Catholic confession booth. There are battery-powered candles in one corner. Red window coverings give the booth a solemn, warm glow. A single mic hangs from the ceiling.

Chris Corona

Zac Catanzaro sits in the confession booth.

Walker Lukens is who you might call the priest in this scenario. Originally from Houston, Lukens is now a well-known musician, based in Austin.

“What I’ve realized is that everyone has something interesting to say,” Lukens says.

He says the confession could be anything – a long-held secret or a prevailing emotion, for example – recorded anonymously. It’s then edited and sent to a musician or a band who writes a song about it.

Lukens, Blackerby and Catanzaro hope to take the camper on the road – to New York and the Midwest, for example – far from where they started at last year’s South by Southwest festival. They also want to recruit more bands, not only from Texas, but from around the world.

The podcast Song Confessional is produced in partnership with Austin public radio station KUTX. You can also find it wherever you get your podcasts.