Faces of Bushwick: Kristin Chambers
August 11, 2021
To celebrate our longtime partnership with Bushwick Book Club Seattle, we’re speaking with local musicians who have composed and performed songs inspired by the written works of SAL speakers. Learn about these hometown talents and discover their music in our Faces of Bushwick interview series.
In this installment, we talk with Seattle-based recording artist, composer, and live performer Kristin Chambers.
What SAL event did you write a song for? What book inspired your song?
I had the honor of writing a song inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye’s The Tiny Journalist [SAL Poetry Series, September 2019]. I specifically chose her poem “Sometimes There is a Day” to work with. It was really hard to choose what to write to, as the book of poems is stunningly beautiful. “Sometimes There is a Day” felt so universal in its longing to escape the pain that a person inevitably experiences in life. The words are so pared down, but spoke volumes to me:
Sometimes there is a day you just want
to get so far away from.
Feel it shrink inside you like an island,
as if you were on a boat.
When I read that, I was ready to write “Past the Waves.”
Where can people find your song online?
What surprised you about the song that emerged from the process?
I am always surprised at the final version of the songs I write. I am a firm believer that songs are never really finished, but you get to a place with them where it’s time to share. I think that “Past the Waves” in particular feels a lot like the poem. There is space in-between the phrases and many long, expansive, held out notes that feel to me like the longing to escape and the dream of that happening.
What do you love about writing music inspired by literature? Is it different from how you write songs otherwise?
I find that writing music inspired by literature is the greatest writing challenge. The books and writers that Bushwick, Jack Straw, and SAL work with are the highest caliber, so it feels really personal and slightly invasive to go in and mingle with that. The goal for me is to learn to take one small fraction of a theme from the literature and go from there. I have not always succeeded, but I love the challenge.
Got something recent to share? Or, something new on the horizon?
I have been writing and producing my own songs, and I have an EP coming out this fall. This particular batch of songs was written in my quarantine, so they definitely have a feeling to them. When you aren’t out experiencing daily life, there is an opportunity to sit with what you’ve got and put a magnifying glass over that. “Brighter Haze” feels introspective.
Thank you, Kristin! To learn more about Kristin’s work, visit her website.