Posts Tagged Nine Inch Nails

The Undercover Soundtrack – Yasmin Selena Butt

for logo‘Music is fuel to take me where the characters go’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative environment – perhaps to connect with a character, populate a mysterious place, or hold  a moment still to explore its depths. This week my guest is Yasmin Selena Butt @YasminSelena

Soundtrack by Jeff Buckley, Death in Vegas, PiL, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies, Nine-Inch Nails, Skunk Anansie, Garbage, Portishead, The Cure, Interpol, Cocteau Twins, Editors

If I hadn’t have become a novelist with a 36G chest, I would have been a rock star. I’m serious.  You try learning electric guitar when you can’t see the strings, it’s dead tricky. Music is huge for me, HUGE. When I was 15, I made a decision not to live abroad because you couldn’t buy Smash Hits in Pakistan. Music back then was the only thing keeping me alive. It fuelled me. I couldn’t risk losing it.

P1000839CropIt was a huge, creative fuel when penning my debut, Gunshot Glitter.  The title might be familiar to you if you’re a fan of the singer, Jeff Buckley.  If you’re not, it was a bonus track released on his posthumous album Sketches for my Sweetheart the Drunk. I loved the song, and, if I’m honest loved the title more. The song itself is lo-fi, distorted, wobbly but utterly impassioned.

Crime drama morality tale

In my novel, Gunshot Glitter is the name of an infamous London burlesque club. How would I describe the story?  It’s the genre-bending story of an incinerated boy who never quite goes away; a morality tale, broadly a crime drama. I was thrilled it was shortlisted as a self-published read by The Guardian last year, along with the tome of my kind blog host Roz Morris. (Thanks! – Ed)

This year, I hope to give it the launch it deserves. It hasn’t had that yet for good reasons. Last year, I almost died of anaphylactic shock at a club on the launch of the print edition. It was a surreal way to discover you now possess a lethal shellfish and nut allergy. This year I hope to do the novel justice.

While writing it, I used mainly alternative music as a fuel to take me to the places where the characters go, especially Celine, the protagonist. And some of the songs I played also feature in the novel.  When I listened to them, I got so immersed in the music, the songs become little stories within themselves, almost like an operetta with tragedy and pathos in spades running riot in my head. I made two CD compilations ‘Black Glitter’ and ‘Angry Glitter,’ depending on where I needed to go creatively, each featuring 18 songs.  Black Glitter was achingly emotional, gut wrenching and tender.

Angry glitter

Bands featured on Angry Glitter included Death in Vegas, PiL, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies, Nine Inch Nails, Skunk Anansie. Garbage’s Vow from their debut album is amazingly powerful. I played this song literally on repeat when writing some of Celine’s pivotal scenes when she made some of the darkest decisions of her young life. Portishead’s incredibly sexy Strangers ended up featuring in a bittersweet memory for Cornelia:

She had been obsessed with Strangers with its melody full of dark, sexy suggestion. It turned her on. She even choreographed an examination piece to it. Cornelia put it on and, when it kicked in with its sleazy, dark electronic riff, she winced. Now she hated it. It reminded her of all she’d lost. It’s just music, she said fiercely through gritted teeth, ‘just music!’ Music could never punish her like her own guilt could.

The Cure is a band that bonds lovers Anis and Celine. I played Disintegration heavily when writing their more intense scenes. And Interpol’s Narc rears its head in the aftermath of their sex, like a shadow in the background on the wall.  Other songs such as Blind, Dumb Deaf by The Cocteau Twins, was just powerful, no intelligible words as Liz Fraser doesn’t use them, but you can’t help but feel a strong sense of foreboding when you hear it, and, when I was getting inside protagonist’s Cornelia Friend’s twisted head  this track made me think of her.  It made me think of someone splintering on the inside, as did  Editor’s Munich.

GG front cover resized promo(808x1280)There is a darkness, intensity, danger, sorrow, passion and fury that dominates the music that literally leaches out onto the pages. When you have great music, fuelling your fingertips, you’re almost obliged to create an impressive result to justify the privilege of what you’re listening to.

When you read the behemoth or listen to the soundtrack, I’ll let your ears and eyes decide if the fifteen year old girl who grew up to write that novel, made the right call to coming home to grow up in London. I hope you believe that she did.

Yasmin Selena Butt was born and lives in London. She has worked in the Maldives as an English language trainer, freelanced in marketing and been published by The Times as a music writer.  She has also written over a thousand poems, exhibited her fiction and photography and performed her debut reading at Proud Galleries in Camden. She adopted ‘Selena’ as her middle name in 2000, after meeting a concierge who told her the story of the naming of his own daughter, Yasmin Selena. She has since repaid the favour by naming a character in Gunshot Glitter after him. Gunshot Glitter is available from Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords and in print from her website. Tweet her as @YasminSelena

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Comments

The Undercover Soundtrack – DM Jarrett

for logo‘Follow where the music leads’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative environment – perhaps to connect with a character, populate a mysterious place, or hold  a moment still to explore its depths. This week’s post is by sci-fi adventure series writer DM Jarrett @seanyeageradv

Soundtrack by Hammock, Nine Inch Nails, Robert Nickson, Linkin Park, Rammstein, Shawn Pierce, Lana Del Rey

You see it’s been all a big misunderstanding. I don’t write books, I write films. Sean Yeager Adventures are written for the big screen. This is the soundtrack I used to explore Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted through the eyes of its cast. I listened to these tracks while I was writing and they led me through the plot, mood by mood. Let’s take a ride.

MeWe begin our journey on a planet far from Earth; come with me on a voyage through the ‘mood writing’ process for Hunters Hunted.

Beyond the Blue by Hammock helped me to write a couple of key sections of the alien sub-plot. Two suns are setting and already the moons are glistening. Around you the atmosphere is becoming bitterly cold and yet beautiful. You are stood beside Klesus Deijan and his alien pet, scarcely believing your eyes. You follow them to their shelter. Dust is rising and fragments of light splinter into shafts of orange and purple. Stars are already piercing the twilight sky.

Earth again

Welcome back to Earth. We’re driving in a Foundation car. Can you feel an approaching menace?

For some of the key chase and battle scenes I channelled We’re in this Together Now by Nine Inch Nails.  Something’s not right. Check the mirror. Check it again. Are you sure what you saw? Boom! A vehicle explodes. You react, adrenaline pumping. Pedal to the floor. You steer to avoid the traffic. We can’t be under attack? Not here, driving toward a shopping mall? Think again! We are in deep trouble. The Androbots are on our tail. And they only want one thing: Sean Yeager. We my friend are expendable. DRIVE!

It seemed like a great idea following that secret tunnel right? Well, right now I’m not so sure….  In this Twilight by Nine Inch Nails helped with the scene and mood setting for the forest scenes.

A door slams shut behind us. Our sense of euphoria comes to an abrupt end. The sun is beginning to fade between the trees. “Where are we? In the middle of a forest of course! So, how do we get back to Kimbleton Hall? Don’t ask me, I didn’t drag us out here. Oh great, it’s starting to rain. Come on let’s trudge through the fallen leaves and mud. Yes, your favourite shoes will be ruined. Not my fault. Come on, we need to find our way home.

Hunters Hunted Text 2 20 PERCENTlThat strange old book

Have you read that strange old book yet? The one our tutor left us. I think it’s opening by itself….

Then we have Maybe Next Time (Chillout mix) by Robert Nickson. I found this track in a compilation of instrumental chill-out tracks that helped me to focus on the written word. I must have replayed this over a hundred times. It helped me to visualise a magical scene:

Light blinds our eyes. We stumble into furniture. Above us an incredible sequence of pictures is projected onto the ceiling. What on Earth? Is it even Earth? How can this be happening in an old mansion? We’re stuck in the middle of nowhere in darkest England. Read the book our tutor said. I think it’s taking us on a visual quest. I’ve no idea what it means. What do you think?

“I thought I heard the gates open, it can’t be…”

Then Burn it Down by Linkin Park found my ears. Its beat and intensity took me straight to a pivotal battle scene.  Look! Out of the bedroom window! Row after row of black figures are marching down the driveway. How did that happen? This place is a fortress. Some Androbots at the front are starting to run. Oh my God, we’re under attack! Heavy weapons are appearing out of the ground on all sides. The fountain has gone. Plasma cannons are pounding. It’s mayhem out there! Find Emily, we need to leave!

In here, quickly…

Stripped by Rammstein suggested the tone for my villain’s approach. Not quite what Depeche Mode had in mind I’m sure.  I hate to break this to you, but we’re surrounded. Somehow they’ve found us. Shush! Keep down! Don’t listen to him Emily, it’s Darius Deveraux. He’s pure evil. Please help us someone! Anyone?

The Founder wants a word with you. I’m sure it will be okay.

Another track I replayed over and over while compiling the major reveal scene  was Higher Power (Defying Gravity) by Shawn Pierce. Sit down and relax. You’re safe here. What is it that you’ve always wanted to know? What nagging doubt have you always wanted to quash? Open your mind and everything will become clear to you. Follow where the pictures lead. Ask them anything. This is for you and you alone.

Nearly home

Your ride home is here. Cheer up, it won’t be long until you return… The track was  Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey (Reich and Bleich remix). Our car rolls down the driveway and we wonder about where our characters may venture next.  Roll credits. Fade to sunset red.

Thanks for tuning in. And to all these amazing artists for their awe inspiring music.

D.M. Jarrett is the author of Sean Yeager Adventures. When not sleeping, he likes to watch films and enjoys writing to a wide range of music. His website is here and you can find him on Twitter @SeanYeagerAdv

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

The Undercover Soundtrack – Leah Bobet

for logo‘Melancholy, softly-haunted halls’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative process – perhaps to tap into a character, populate a mysterious place, or explore the depths in a pivotal moment. This week’s post is by award-winning urban fantasy author Leah Bobet @LeahBobet

Soundtrack by Matthew Good, PJ Harvey, Chris Cornell, Gregory and the Hawk, The Von Bondies, Nine Inch Nails, Madrugada

Before I was a writer, which feels like eleventy billion years ago at this point, I was a musician.  I played classical piano, guitar, and French horn, but my real instrument was voice, and my ambition, all through high school, was to get into the Performance Music program at University of Toronto and become an opera singer.

leah.bobet.headshot(Yes, an opera singer.  Weren’t there any nice garage bands to join, Leah?  Not any that had that swooping, visceral power behind each note.)

Obviously, this didn’t happen.  Memo to future aspiring mezzo-sopranos: Do that theory homework or else.  But it built an intimate relationship between music, and lyrics, and making for me.  From the day I sat down at the keyboard and started messing around with fiction, I’ve never written without music — and never without the right music for the mood and cadence of a scene.  And that music slowly became intertwined with every word I put to paper.

Above‘s roots are tonal.  It started with a Matthew Good song.

Well, it started with a lot of things: A book of essays on living as a queer, blue-collar person with a disability; a nagging desire to pick a fight with the 1980s Beauty and the Beast; wanting to write a story where the people with the disabilities were the heroes, instead of the assistants; and the question of when you stop trying to save someone and just let them fall.  But the thing that clicked all those thoughts together was Matthew Good’s The Fine Art of Falling Apart, and an April night when it just set me off bawling.

If this song I’d heard a thousand times was suddenly making me burst into tears, there was a story inside it.  So I had to find out why.

Metaphors that find you

They grew together almost immediately: I have a habit of pulling ideas or metaphors from lyrics, ones that don’t quite explain themselves, and then explaining them into story.  The second verse of The Fine Art of Falling Apart quickly turned into Ariel, a furious-frightened girl who turns into a bee, and whose wings change back last – in some ways, the linchpin for the whole novel.

Its grave, mourning resolve set the tone for her relationship to Matthew, Above‘s narrator and protagonist; the reason they stayed together came clear when I heard Gregory and the Hawk’s Boats and Birds on Internet radio a few weeks later.

Above‘s antagonist, and the people its protagonists risked becoming, appeared the moment I attached PJ Harvey’s Who Will Love Me Now? to the soundtrack.

But most of the book was written to the Ghosts album: Nine Inch Nails’s first instrumental.  It came out while I was writing, and the sombre, melancholy, softly haunted halls of the opening tracks fit perfectly with the abandoned asylum halls and sewer tunnels and histories Matthew and Ariel navigated together.  I spent the spring waiting until nightfall, lighting a candle on my desk, turning out the lights, and writing to Ghosts I.  Its mood, its regret and acceptance, slowly nudged the tone of the novel into shadowier places.  It made the book a different kind of music.

aboveBy the time I hit the Von Bondies’s C’mon C’mon and Madrugada’s Majesty near the end of the manuscript,  those questions still weren’t answered.  But I had 90,000 words of them being asked.

So in a sense writing, for me, is still opera: bits of story brought forward by music, by its tone and lyrics, and then there’s me, writing the recitatives that go between them so this jumbled collection of songs makes a coherent sense.  Everything on the Above soundtrack was a found object.  What made it into a novel, and the novel that it is, was searching for the way those songs connected, and stringing them together into a symphony.

Leah Bobet’s first novel, Above, was nominated for the 2013 Andre Norton Award and the 2013 Aurora Award.  She lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she edits Ideomancer Speculative Fiction, picks urban apple trees, and works as a bookseller and civic engagement activist.  Her second novel, On Roadstead Farm — a literary dustbowl fantasy where things blow up—will appear from Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in late 2014.  Visit her website, or find her on Twitter at @leahbobet.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

The Undercover Soundtrack – Dan Holloway

for logo‘Neon, nostalgia, regret and joy’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative process – perhaps to open a secret channel to understand a character, populate a mysterious place, or explore the depths in a pivotal moment. This week, spoken-word poet and novelist Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes returns with the soundtrack to his latest collection

Soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann, Mamas and Papas, Pink Floyd, Garbage, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Kills, Nine Inch Nails, Portishead, Tracy Chapman, Eagle Eye Cherry, Melanie Pain, Emily Barker

i cannot bring myself to look at walls in case you graffiti them with love poetry is, according to the blurb I put together for it, ‘a lyrical, heartbreaking, but ultimately joyous picaresque across the neon-soaked night cities of the world in search and celebration of lost friends’. It is about a feeling – one that blends joy and nostalgia and sorrow and celebration and neon piercing the night sky and damp bridges and lives that spring fully and tragically formed from the concrete. The times I’ve seen that done best have both been through powerful connections between image and soundtrack – in the 70s, Bernard Herrmann’s oppressive industrial backdrop to Taxi Driver, and from the 90s the marrying of the dazzling colour of East Asian cities and the Mamas and Papas classic piece of nostalgia California Dreaming.

Dan and DiSo music was right at the front of my mind from the start as I was putting it together. It’s also an accompaniment to my first solo spoken word show, which will premier at Cheltenham Poetry Festival on 24 April. So rhythm, cadence, pulling the audience through sound through a rollercoaster ride of the emotions were all right there at the fore. And with the multimedia background to the book, that initial draw towards the neon, nostalgia and grime of the cinematic city soundtrack was the perfect place to begin getting myself into the right place to construct and compile the book.

Rhythm is all

The thing about a collection – and a show for that matter – is that at every level rhythm is everything. Not just within the pieces but within the whole. Every dazzling, intense, searing effect you create is diminished by the wrong amount of repetition, enhanced by the right number of carefully placed repetitions, burnished or dulled by what comes before, after, a similar distance from the beginning, from the end. Every piece must hang together and flow effortlessly just like a perfectly-constructed album. This sense of flow, rhythm, shape is essential to all forms of the written as well as the spoken word, but it amazes me how little I see writers refer to beautifully-crafted albums as their exemplars.

Prog rock and poetry

Being the age I am, married to whom I am, of the musical persuasion I am, and someone who calls himself a prog rocker of the poetry world, there really is only one album to turn to for the perfectly constructed emotional and sensual journey. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is perfect in just about every way, and makes as great a live show as it does an album. From helicopters to gloriously crashing waves of sound via alarm clocks and lunatics on the grass, every step is in just the right position in relation to every other to make the journey an almost mystical path to enlightenment.

And yet, steeped in Bernard Herrman and Pink Floyd, I have the path mapped out before me but it’s still not enough. Still not the mix of anger, desolation, joy and nostalgia and, well, neon-soakedness all in one that I’m looking for. Which is why playlists are so fabulous.

I’ve always loved playlists, ever since as a seven-year-old I’d endlessly sort through my dad’s 45s making little stacks to play in order. And there is nothing better for keying you into the rhythms of whatever you are writing than a playlist the follows your work’s rhythms. So, get your headphones and have a listen to what is, in essence, my latest book.

limited ed cover frontEach track manages to blend the urban and the nostalgic, painting a constant backdrop as it were whilst the foreground moves with the rhythm of the collection’s picaresque.

We begin with the wistful recollective regret of Garbage’s You Look So Fine and the haunting Red Hot Chilli Peppers classic Scar Tissue we find the brutal, angry, relentless drumbeat of The Kills’s No Wow as the reality of loss loses its romanticised edge and gives way to a despair that becomes exhaustion at the nadir of Nine Inch Nails’s stunningly dissonant Hurt and Portishead’s Roads with its pitch perfect association with the film Requiem for a Dream. From that low point we emerge to appreciate the preciousness of the memories with Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car and Eagle Eye Cherry’s celebration of the intense, fleeting joyfulness of life, Save Tonight. But the celebration is only temporary and gives way to the bitterness and desperation of the pounding beat in Portishead’s Machine Gun before, exhausted and scarred but unbowed we emerge with Melanie Pain’s Bruises and finally lay down our heads, our lives and lost friendships streaming ever slower before our eyes as we fade into the night with Emily Barker’s Pause.

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and cultural commentator. He runs 79 rat press through which he publishes his own conceptual books and will, in June 2013, be publishing debut collections from five of the most groundbreaking new voices in poetry and prose. In the picture he appears with Diophantus, one of the 79 rats. He blogs at Authors Electric and is a member of the League of Extraordinary Authors. Find him on Twitter @agnieszkasshoes

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 228 other followers