Sayde Price has a look that turns quickly from young and innocent to piercing and contemplative. Her actions appear well thought out—from the way she peels a sweet potato to how she readies herself to sing.
It’s one of the first sunny spring days when City Weekly catches up with the Salt Lake City singer-songwriter. After cooking a light vegetarian lunch, she sits adjacent to her Avenues home’s garden and plays a song—yet to be titled.
Unraveling the newest in her small repertoire, her eyes roll back and her lips curl as her ghostly falsetto soars in a rapid crescendo. She fingerpicks her way through the song simply and delicately—an example of her conscious shift forward musically.
Price wants to move forward musically because, she says, her recent debut, Wilt All Rosy, is already outdated—its contents are 3 years old, written when Price, now 20, was “just a child” living at her parents’ Fairview, Utah, home. Unfortunately, she still can’t get booked in any of the over-21 venues in town.
To bolster her musical career and to move beyond the now-dated tracks, Price recorded the album independently in April 2010 with producer Scott Wiley at June Audio, with a slew of local musicians. It was picked up by Northplatte Records in early 2011.
Although Price feels it’s outdated, the album glows. Arranged in the order of when each song was written, the album documents the time in Price’s life and the 10 songs’ specific, if not similar, goals.
“It is about creating specific images, and that doesn’t necessitate that each lyrical turn of phrase has some sort of deeper metaphor,” Price says. “For me, that’s not necessary. It’s just the vulnerability—or even the texture of a sound—where the value comes from.”
Price is calculating how to strip away layers to arrive at the bare essence of the humanness of being, playing with the sparseness of sonic possibilities for her next conceptual album.
“I want to make an album that’s like a beet that was just pulled out of the ground and it still has the dirt on it—an exploration of the minimal,” says Price. An apt metaphor for a farmer’s daughter.
Price’s parents—owners of Sunbridge Growers—encouraged her to pursue whatever path she wanted in life. Price began violin practice at 5 years old and picked up the guitar some years later. But there wasn’t anyone to play with in her hometown, so she’d mostly write and play in her closet. “There was something really special about being in that confined space,” she says.
A friend eventually persuaded Price to play an open mic at Muse Music Cafe in Provo, where she performed two songs: “a rough sketch preceding the first finished song,” she says, and “Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie” by Joanna Newsom, to whom she still garners comparisons.
She caught the ear of some prominent Provo scenesters while playing more open mics. Velour owner Corey Fox eventually helped her land some opening slots, while McKay Stevens and Joshua James—Northplatte Records’ co-founders—invited her to demo at James’ home studio. Nothing much came from those interactions until three years later, when she had moved to Salt Lake City and recorded Wilt All Rosy.
After one listen to the album, it was a no-brainer for Northplatte to sign her, Stevens says, specifically because of her voice—which he describes as “angelic, tender but piercing.” And because she’s a true artist.
“She has such a huge vision, and she is very opinionated, which can be good and bad with a musician. She’ll turn down opportunities that don’t fit her vision,” Stevens says. “She’s a creator with everything she does, whether it’s her [clothing] style, music or art.”
Price complements the label’s stellar, mostly Provo-based lineup: Joshua James, The Vibrant Sound, Desert Noises and Parlor Hawk.
Northplatte gives her autonomy as she prepares the pieces of her next effort. “I don’t feel any pressure now to adhere to an aesthetic or a sonic sensibility. I don’t think they’ll ever hold me to a creative standard,” Price says.
So now she just battles herself.
“One of the most difficult things is self-doubt. Ultimately, I want to create something that I’m interested in and that compels me,” Price says. “That is so exciting of an experience.
“I never want to feel like I brought something into the world that felt inauthentic or contrived.”