Exploring the Transformative Power of Music and the Arts
Matt Matre Sawaya
Over the past few years, I’ve experienced divisions between people in a way I never had before. I found myself thinking very differently about things compared with some of the people I’m close to. This started happening all around me—between family members, friends, and colleagues. “Fire Pond” is a recent song release that speaks about this experience in my own life—about the process of trying to stay in a loving relationship with someone whose opinions were painfully different from my own. It’s about discovering in myself something deeper than my own opinions and judgments and seeing that something new became possible when I could take an interest in someone else’s experience—when I was able to listen and really stay open to their story, and when they were able to do the same for me.
A friend of mine once told me that taking an interest in someone is a form of love. I’ve found this to be profoundly true in this process, and it’s been an incredible opportunity to deepen my understanding of love. This process has been difficult, but it has also been one of the most significant growth experiences of my life and one I’m deeply grateful for.
“Fire Pond” is the first song release from a new music project called Love Bravely—a cross-genre music group and creative community dedicated to exploring the transformative potential of the arts in our time. This exploration has been a central inspiration in my own life, and my artistic practice has been an entry point, continually showing me new aspects of working creatively and inviting me to deepen my understanding of what the arts can offer the world around me.
In my experience, writing music is a practice of listening—a practice of leaning my attention toward the potential of what’s newly emerging. When I can do this—and sit in the openness and uncertainty it requires—a different kind of space or landscape opens. This landscape is the terrain where new things come from—new inspirations, thoughts, and possibilities. It’s distinctly different from the landscape of our conventional world, where we encounter the things that already exist. The creative experience for me is like sitting at the borderline between these landscapes, and doing this as a continuing practice has helped me to recognize the essential and significant difference between the two—the existing world and the world of ever-new emergence.
This experience—felt and described in different ways—is one that many artists have; a willingness to be in the unknown and to give our attention to what wants to emerge. This process isn’t only relevant for those things we call “art;” it is necessary for creating anything truly new in our world, and in a time when we are urgently in need of new ways forward, this practice feels critically important.
We can experience this through the process of creating art ourselves and when we experience other works of art. For me, an inspiring song, painting, or movie can feel as if it’s inviting forward that which wants to emerge from within me. Experiencing this is like being on the other side of the creative borderline. Instead of me listening in on the landscape of emergence, something else is pointing towards that landscape in me. I can begin to see myself both as an explorer of the creative landscape and as an extension of it.
In this way, the arts, as we conventionally define them, offer experiences that can help us understand that this capacity for hosting emergence and creating exists in all of us. We can begin to see that this isn’t only about the disciplines we call “art” but about anything we engage with. In conversation with another person, for example, we can listen in this way—we can give our attention to that which wants to emerge in another’s experience and, in so doing, support this emergence—our attention, interest, and love for this potential can weave a container or vessel which helps to host what’s wanting to come.
We can do this in our work, regardless of the discipline. We can listen for what’s ready to emerge, what’s truly new. We can practice the willingness to be in the uncertainty and the unknown required for this emergent space to open, beginning to see the discomfort that may arise as an invitation to let go of our desire to hold on to that which is familiar—that which appears secure simply out of familiarity, even if it’s actually unhealthy or dangerous for us. We can apply this practice to our personal, community, and global challenges and begin to recognize that we are all artists in a certain respect. The possibility of a truly new and different future may depend on our ability to embrace and celebrate this.
Faced with the challenges I encountered in relationships over the past several years, this was a practice I turned to. I sat to write, guided by these questions: “What wants to emerge through this experience I’m having?” “What possibility is this challenge making available?” I remember the experience as the lyrics and melodies of the song “Fire Pond” started to come. They felt like a gift, offering powerful new possibilities—an opening in the challenge I was experiencing through which a deeper truth could find its way. This opening brought with it the potential for new thoughts, understanding, and inspiration. It was a new step in exploring love as a force for good beyond my own personal fears and judgments—a force I could continue to commit myself to and allow to guide me.
Love Bravely creates music, writing pieces, videos, community dialogues, and other creative collaborations. The initiative is committed to exploring new models for supporting the arts, such as Gift Release—a form that offers music with no paywalls and invites those inspired by it to support through direct contributions—and Art Dispersal, a collaboration with New York-based painter, Laura Summer (). For updates about this work and to support it, you can subscribe to our Substack mailing list or visit us on Patreon. To get in touch directly, email us at email@example.com.
BIO: Matt Sawaya (aka Matre) is a rapper and singer-songwriter whose work focuses on the arts’ transformative power. With roots in L.A.’s vibrant hip-hop underground, his genre-bending music has branched out to include collaborations with artists from Latin America, Africa, and Europe, exploring the intersections and fusion of many musical styles and lineages. He has collaborated on recordings with artists including Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Myka 9 (Freestyle Fellowship), and Kenyan musical pioneer Ochieng’ Nelly. He has enjoyed live collaborations with artists such as Matt Cameron (Pearl Jam / Sound Garden) and Wayne Kramer (MC5). Matre recently launched Love Bravely, a cross-genre music project and creative community, bringing together collaborations with a wide network of musicians, artists, and cultural creatives. His music is available on all streaming platforms and via the Love Bravely Substack page, together with writing pieces and other creative work at