A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Faces of Bushwick: Matt Price

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 singer songwriter Matt Price, who started out in poetry and found his way to narrative ballads.

What SAL event did you write a song for? What book inspired your song?

I wrote a song called “Deaf Nation” for the SAL event with Ilya Kaminsky in response to his book Deaf Republic.

Where can we find your song online?

What surprised you about the song that emerged from the process?

Surprise is what I’m looking for in the songs I write. I want to write songs that I wish I had written. They have to surprise me, so when I hear them, I’ll say to myself, I wrote that?!

Using a book to inspire a song is a great way to get that result. The book makes you approach the song from a different point of view. Deaf Republic made me write about gun violence and police brutality and white supremacy and economic oppression all in one song—subjects I never really set out to write about.

What do you love about writing music inspired by literature? 

Writing from a book pushed me to write things I otherwise would not. I need inspiration from outside of myself, since the material inside is all pretty stale.

Is it different from how you write songs otherwise?

Yes and no. I use some of the same techniques in writing other songs. I like working with a list of words, which I draw from the book I’m using, but they can come from anyplace. I sometimes still write songs that come from spontaneous inspiration, with no source material other than whatever’s going on in my head, but that’s not the norm anymore.

Nowadays, I usually find something to use as a source. I also need deadlines. Bushwick is great for that. Without a deadline—someone else expecting me to have a song by a certain date—I would never get anything done.

What are you reading now? Or, what book have you recently enjoyed that you’d recommend to others?

I enjoyed The Three-Body Problem [by Liu Cixin]. I’d recommend anything from The Dresden Files [by Jim Butcher].

Thank you, Matt! To learn more about Matt’s work, visit his website.

Photo credit: Frances Gaul Photography