Inspiration Through Music: Imogen Heap
First, I apologize again that this blog was not up for Monday. Two, today is my birthday. I really wanted to share with you my favorite musician on this day because her music really means a lot to me in terms of what I write and what feelings I try to evoke with my work. When I discovered Imogen Heap, I didn’t really get a clear taste of what her music was. I’d only heard the one song (Hide and Seek) and though I loved it, I wasn’t able to hunt down the rest of her music then. It was only when her later album Ellipse came out that I finally saw the light. Whilst rooting around on youtube (which I often do), I found the music video for the song “Canvas”. Intrigued by the thumbnail, I clicked on it. And folks, I was blown away. I’m a true Imogen Heap fan now.
For those of you who are not familiar with Heap, she is an English songwriter, singer, and composer who usually creates her music all by herself — literally. She’ll set up at a concert with a keyboard and several computers and pull out a gorgeous song by using copy and repeat tools to replay the sounds she’s made. It’s really pretty cool. If you follow the link here, you’ll be directed to a live version of “Just For Now” where she does this. I’ve listened to her works for a number of different projects and have always come away feeling closer to my project because of the connection her music has made. Today, I’ll be sharing 8 of her songs with you. Have a pen and paper ready. You may be inspired, too!
Canvas: I’ve already mentioned this song in one of my previous Inspiration Through Music blogs at the start of the year, but it most certainly deserves another mention here. This is probably my second favorite song of all time. I used this song as inspiration while writing Aequitas: Book 2 of The Monstrum Chronicles. The enchanting background music makes you think of snow lightly twirling through the frosty air in the middle of some darkened woods. I had this image in my head even before I saw the hypnotic music video that accompanies this song. The combination of musical notes, instruments, Imogen’s voice, and the lyrics are perfect. I know for a fact I’ll be listening to this piece for other projects in the future simply because I cannot get enough of it and it opens up inspiration to write inside of me.
Speeding Cars: He puts his hand in hers and a solemn promise is made in that moment. They stare at the car sitting on the side of the road. The car has been their conduit to getting to know one another. Every day, they’ve driven a little further in it, off into a series of winding roads that take them far from everything they’ve known. At first, they could barely stand one another but gradually they grew closer as friends and while she’s always been there for him, he’s had so much trouble opening up to her to do the same. And now that she needs him, he’s realizing that it’s okay to give a piece of himself away. Keeping all of his reservations up and locking himself away is just a waste and he’ll end up bitter for it. The moment is a realization for the both of them, that perhaps there is hope after all, hope that people can change. This is a song that I’ve listened to for inspiration on my upcoming novella, Night Time, Dotted Line.
Lifeline: Another one of my all time favorites from Imogen is Lifeline. I’ve been listening to this while working on my thromance novel, You Fancy Me Mad. The main character is a young woman who is opinionated but also is her own woman. After a failed engagement, she believes that she needs to stand up more for herself, that she doesn’t necessarily need a man. However, she makes the acquaintance of a mysterious army medic at one of her parent’s parties and is immediately intrigued with not only him but his charming and enigmatic Captain friend. As she grows closer to both of them, she begins to realize that there is something bigger at stake than just learning to trust a man… she’ll have to learn to embrace the unorthodox and a little bit of madness in order to survive. You Fancy Me Mad is a project I’d really like to focus on this winter and hopefully finish up in the spring.
Earth: Yet another song that inspired scenes from Night Time, Dotted Line. The characters are on their way to an environmental conference across the country. The song is supposed to be told from the earth’s point of view and is speaking to humans about the abuse of the environment. One of the lyrics is “Make it work”. This parallels the situation between the two characters driving to the conference. They are both there for there own reasons and are having a difficult time getting along with one another because they come from two very different worlds. But they need to make it work if they’re ever going to make things better. I can see this song playing during their car ride as they begin passing some gorgeous sights; snow-capped mountains, forests in variegated colors of reds, oranges, and browns, and lakes that seem bluer than the sky above and unblemished by clouds.
Hide and Seek: One of Imogen Heap’s more recognizable tracks, this is another one of my favorite song because of the intense emotions of loneliness and tragedy it evokes. I can really get into a characters head when I listen to this song. The fact that there is almost no background instrumental is one of the most unique things about this song. It really makes things seem more in your face, and more real somehow. The song mixes some stronger vocals with sing song lyrics and delicate threads of statements with a hard truth behind them, the most heartbreaking of them all being “You don’t care a bit.” The character that this song is being sung from is an individual who has undergone something terrible and now finds themselves alone and having a very difficult time making it through by themselves. There is one person who is supposed to be there beside them, but everything they say and do makes them seem more absent. While I’ve listened to this track on different projects, I still haven’t found the one character, scene, or situation that fits it the best. It really is a one of a kind beautiful song.
Cumulus: I see a character sitting on a horse or possibly just sitting at the base of a tree on top of a hill staring out into the starry sky and the desert valley that stretches out below them. There are night clouds being pulled by a strong gust and they haze over the sky. The character is contemplating everything that has happened to them and the consequences still to come. He knows that there is very little that he can do, fate is out of his hands. And yet, he believes somehow that there is a reason for it all and that it will become more apparent the further down the road he goes. The song describes the situation of my main character from my western horror short story Landed. I’ve already decided I’ll be writing a series featuring the characters in the story. I’m anxious to get started on it, but I know I’ll only have time once The Monstrum Chronicles are finished.
The Fire: Short and exquisite, this is one of the most emotive pieces that Imogen Heap has done. There is no shortage of inspiration that one can derive from this piano plucked melody with the uneasy crackle of a fire in the background. It’s melancholy, innocent, and inspires memories of a time when things may have been better than they are currently. I’ve listened to this song for several of my projects and it manages to fit into them all wonderfully.
Have You Got It In You?: Another song that has inspired scenes in various projects including Night Time, Dotted Line, Book 4 of The Monstrum Chronicles, and my as-of-yet untitled apocalyptic novel. The premise of the song is one that really kicks me into overdrive with my inspiration. The idea that you, yourself have the power to change things, to alter how things turn out in the future. It’s asking you if you have the guts to do it and that something is waiting for you to make that determination. Any character with a self-depreciation or a very hard time believing in ones self can take a cue from this song. It brings out a feeling of courage in the character, in my opinion, perhaps a necessary courage that’s needed to overcome a difficult obstacle in the story.
Next week on Inspiration Through Music, we’ll be tackling the works of another favorite band of mine. Portishead is next week! Stay tuned!