Get to know the Martin Showcase class of 2024: Ian Munsick

Get to know the Martin Showcase class of 2024: Ian Munsick

Ad feature with Martin
Ian Munsick is part of Martin’s Showcase class of 2024: find out more about the Showcase programme at, and in this year’s Martin Journal.
Growing up on a Wyoming ranch in a family of musicians, Ian Munsick was born to be a country artist. His music is steeped in the landscape of his home state, bringing the energy and wide-open thrill of a horse ride across a prairie.
After moving to Music City, Munsick released his first album Coyote Cry – a slick, accessible slice of the west. On his next record White Buffalo, he explored the rawer, more organic side of his sounds, diving deep into the heart of the lifestyle he grew up in. Alongside the album, Munsick also released a documentary White Buffalo: Voices Of The West, which explored the lesser-known side of cowboy culture, highlighting the diverse reality of ranch life, and the often under-represented stories of modern Native American ranchers.
We spoke to Ian about how he brings a little bit of Wyoming to Nashville, getting his first Martin guitar, and how his love of everything from the Beatles to hip hop informs his songwriting.
What is it that made you know you were going to play guitar, play music?
My dad and my two older brothers all play music as well. So being the youngest I really didn’t have a choice: it was just always in our house growing up. I grew up on a ranch, so there was a lot of old country music in our house, all the time. But my dad is a pretty accomplished player, and he introduced me and my brothers to jazz, rock and classical music, not just country. So I love it all.
Being the younger brother, was your choice of what instrument you could play limited?
That was pretty much how it went. My dad is a fiddle player, but plays guitar and a bunch of other instruments too. My older brothers and I kind of followed that, and my oldest brother ended up being the main guitar player in our band. But the guitar was always the one that we all really gravitated towards, because we wanted to write music.
What made you want to move to Nashville?
I always wanted to move to Nashville just to be around music more. But by the time I was in high school, my older brothers had already graduated college and were off doing their own thing. So it was just me and my dad at home.
As much as I love playing music with my dad, I knew that there were a lot of other really great players out there and a ton of music – and that I could learn a lot from being in Nashville, and I could learn from the best players in the world and the best songwriters writers in the world.

My end goal was just to live a life filled with music. But the older and older I got, and the more I started playing for other artists and learning their own music, the more I realised my true calling is to perform my own music.
When you struck out on your own with a solo career, after playing bass for other artists, did you still view the guitar as central to your songwriting?
When I moved to Nashville, my dad always told me that if you can play bass and sing harmonies, you’ll always be able to buy a meal for yourself. And man, he was right – it paid my bill through college, and a couple years out of college, too.
But I always just knew in the bottom of my heart that I needed to spend my time making my own music – and that’s kind of how I fell back in love with playing the guitar. And specifically Martins, too – I’ve always been a Martin guy. My dad always played a Martin too – and for all of my older brothers and I, for our high school graduation, he bought us all D28s. Those were our first really nice guitars. I’ve always been a Martin guy through-and-through, ever since then.
Did you feel like the country music you were being surrounded with represented your upbringing?
Growing up in Wyoming on a ranch, it was weird because all of the country music that I heard wasn’t about the lifestyle that I was living. It was always about rednecks, drinking beer and trucks. Where I’m from, it’s cowboys and horses – and mountains, the natural landscape. So that was always just like an obvious thing for me to do as an artist – to bring my Wyoming into the Nashville music world.
Did that goal inform your recent documentary – White Buffalo: Voices Of The West?
In the part of the country that I grew up in, Native American culture has a huge influence on the cowboy way of life – I grew up just a couple of miles away from the crow reservation. I went to school with a lot of Native Americans and I’m friends with a lot of Native Americans. It kind of all ties back to horses – that’s kind of the root of the influence that they’ve had on the way of life out there.

I realised when I moved to Nashville, that across the country – except for kind of in the Rocky Mountain West – that people just don’t really know a lot about modern Native Americans. There’s a lot of misinterpretation of the modern-day Native American lifestyle. So it was really important for me to help bring forward their stories and perspectives with this project, and to hopefully help educate the country music world and beyond.
When it came to establishing the sound of your solo material, were there any defining influences?
I would say the biggest influence is Wyoming, that ranch lifestyle – and my personal life. My wife, my three-year-old boy. And in terms of other music – the Beatles have always been it. Just the way that they pushed the boundaries of music as a whole, not just rock music, and the fact that they’re still influencing all kinds of music long after they’ve stopped. For me, I can always go back to those records and find creative inspiration.
And being the youngest of three boys, I looked up to my older brothers, and I kind of had the upper hand. All the music that they were into, I was into, but a lot earlier in my life, because I would steal their albums – Eminem, Blink-182, all of that kind of 90s and 2000 stuff that was hot, I was getting into that when I was eight years old. And I’ve always been a huge fan of Motown, too, and rock bands like the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac.
So I’m just kind of all over the place, really, but I try to steal little things all over, too. Like the Beatles – part of me developing a sound was stealing those tight three-part harmonies and how they wrote chord changes – things that aren’t standard in country music. And I’m not scared to steal a little bit from hip hop, either, and throw an 808 drum machine on a track!
How has your approach to production shifted over your solo career so far?
For my first EP, I made that In a spare bedroom in my wife’s house, back before we were married. That was just, “I’m gonna make some tunes because I need to get music out.” And that helped me introduce my music to where I knew it would affect a lot of people, in the rocky mountain region.
And then my next record, Coyote Cry, was the first one I made in Nashville – and that was important, as it introduced me to the industry of this city. And, man, there’s tunes on there where there’s no real drums – which is usually kinda taboo in country music. A lot of it prides itself on having, you know, real instruments, a real live band. But 80 percent of that album was done In one studio room with no live drums, with some really talented engineers that came from the pop world and knew how to program really well. It was this poppy version of Wyoming that I think really allowed me to break into Nashville.
With the new album, White Buffalo, the goal was to have more live players on it. And to have it be a little bit more organic, but still hit you hard. Not as stripped as my first EP, not as polished as Coyote Cry. I do love going into each album and trying to accomplish a different feel and theme for each one.
How do the other instruments you play inform your approach to guitar?
The banjo also taught me all about the right hand – with guitar, there’s all this stuff about the left hand, it has to be fast, but man, the banjo, that’s all about the right hand. And on the mandolin, too, doing the tremolos – it’s really taught me an approach to the acoustic that’s more from the perspective of the right hand. After you play the banjo for a while and then pick up the acoustic, it’s like it’s this whole new instrument.
I’m not the world’s best mandolin or banjo player, but I think that there’s a reason I picked them up in the first place. And that was to make me feel a different way. You can play acoustic guitar all day long, and you can play rock, jazz, country, blues on it. But when I pick up a banjo, there’s something about it that just immediately takes me to the mountains. And when I pick up a mandolin, it takes me to the fields and prairies of Wyoming. That’s just always been very attractive to me as a writer and as a creator, because it helps me put myself in that place. And that’s the goal with music – to put the listener in the place that you want them.
About Martin’s Spotlight programme
Artists are the lifeblood of Martin Guitar. From Johnny Cash to Joan Baez, countless influential musicians helped make Martin what it is today. Now, Martin has set its sights on the next generation of musicians with the new Artist Showcase. The program aims to celebrate artists who are making waves in the industry, and serves as a platform to connect the artists with Martin’s global audience.
Six artists are kicking off the Spotlight for 2024. They are Drayton Farley, Devon Gilfillian, Ian Munsick, Joy Oldakun, Nate Smith and Hailey Whitters, and together they represent the wide span of music being made on Martin guitars: from soulful vintage R&B to eclectically-influenced pop, and from uplifting country rock to raw, unflinching Americana. In this series of interviews, sits down with the six artists that make up the class of 2024.
The post Get to know the Martin Showcase class of 2024: Ian Munsick appeared first on | All Things Guitar.

read more