Inspiration Through Music: Toh Kay and Streetlight Manifesto

I’ve been introduced to so much wonderful music in the last few months, particularly things in the ska genre, which I had largely been disinterested in before. Not sure why. But I wholeheartedly regret that now. There are so, so many great bands in that genre that have been inspirations for the seeds of stories I’d like to work on. Several of these ideas have come from the works of Streetlight Manifesto and consequently, Toh Kay (the band’s lead singer) who has done acoustic covers of many of the songs. While I’d love to do an Inspiration Through Music post for just Toh Kay’s acoustic covers, you can’t really focus on him without also talking about Streetlight Manifesto. So, today’s Inspiration Through Music will be a bit of a split between the two of them.

Tomas Kalnoky AKA Toh Kay, is a Czech born American musician. While his music with Streetlight Manifesto has a much more upbeat, harder, and motivated feel to it, his solo albums are much smoother and often times, reveal a sadder tone to them. It’s amazing how one can listen to the original Streetlight Manifesto version of a song and then the Toh Kay version and feel as though they’ve listened to two completely different songs. But I love this. And I love that certain songs can be interpreted in both lights. I have a couple of songs from Toh Kay and Streetlight Manifesto that are on a playlist for my latest project (both versions of the same songs) and I’ve found that both work incredibly well for different parts of the story.

My latest project takes place in a fictional beach-side resort town where a vampire (name hasn’t been decided yet) is caught in the moral implications of his lifestyle and the jobs he’s often paid to do, the innocent people that are affected by it, and the dissolution of his own humanity the longer he does it. Toh Kay’s music speaks more to this character’s inner struggles, while Streetlight Manifesto’s songs are a bit more on point with action scenes integral to the plot. Because while I’ve described what this book is about in a deep and kind of nebulous way, it really is supposed to be more of a horror comedy and the playlist for it is chock full of other ska classics. Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its serious moments though and I can get inside my main character’s head more when I’m listening to those pieces by Toh Kay.

So, today, I’m going to share with you a few of the Toh Kay and Streetlight Manifesto songs that I have added to my playlist along with a couple of generic scenes to illustrate what I’m thinking when I listen to them. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Inspiration Through Music: Peter Mulvey

Image result for peter mulvey

If you’ve been following the Monstrum Chronicles blog for some time now, you’ll know that I love discovering new music and writing alongside said music. Recently, my boyfriend introduced me to a musician whose style can only be described as part Ray LaMontagne, part phenomenal guitar, and part…sunshine and coffee. Have you ever listened to someone sing and been able to practically see them smile through their voice? Peter Mulvey is this musician.

I was lucky enough to meet him at a recent performance in Hallowell at the beginning of June. He’s one of those people with a charming personable presence, the kind who can entertain with word and song and that you can never grow tired of listening to. He’s become my go to for car rides, down time in the house, and yes, even for certain story ideas. As I’ve been thinking more and more about starting a sequel for Night Time, Dotted Line (my dramedy), I’ve found that Mulvey’s voice resonates with both of the main characters, Calleigh and Spencer, well; particularly with Calleigh though.

Today, I’m going to share a few of Peter Mulvey’s songs with you along with some of the images that his songs conjure in my mind. This is a fun little exercise that you can do in your own spare time. Just take a pencil and paper, play to the songs below, and see what comes to mind when you listen. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Inspiration Through Music: Ben Webb

13116331_1018457398203579_4626292616712241512_o

This week, I had the pleasure of listening to the ultra-talented Ben Webb, a performer whom I’d never heard of before, but whose music instantly reminded me of several other artists. Webb’s music is dynamic, multi-faceted, and speaks of people’s many transitions through life.

Continue reading

Inspiration Through Music: Bridge of Spies Soundtrack

(I wrote this back when the Oscars were happening… yeah.)

I have always, and will always be a fan of music composed by Thomas Newman. I own a number of his impressive film scores, several of them Oscar nominated or winning and all of them gorgeous in their own right. Little Women, Phenomenon, The Horse Whisperer, Meet Joe Black, American Beauty, The Green Mile, Finding Nemo, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Help, Skyfall…(and let’s not forget TV show Six Feet Under and Miniseries Angels in America)! And now, the dramatic and emotional score for the Oscar nominated film, Bridge of Spies.

Continue reading

Inspiration Through Music: Star Wars – The Force Awakens Soundtrack

When I grew up, I was one of the Trekkies. I loved anything and everything Star Trek but I had a respect for Star Wars and the world and characters that George Lucas had created. This year brought the series back to life with the latest (and greatest) in the Star Wars story, The Force Awakens. Having not watched The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, I was missing pieces of the story and worried I wouldn’t be able to follow it. Thankfully, The Force Awakens was easy to follow, had a collection of fantastic characters and locations, and a plot that kept me guessing what was going to happen next. Most of all, I was impressed by John Williams new score. There were many times while watching where I was actually drawn to listen closer to his compositions and found them stunning and beautiful.

Continue reading

Inspiration Through Music: Top 10 Game Soundtracks (for Writing) in 2015

Welcome!

It’s the end of 2015 and with that revelation, I’ve decided to go through and list some of my favorites of the year starting with music! For long time subscribers to the blog, you’ll know that I have done a weekly blog for music that is inspirational to writers. It’s most often music that I’ve found from video game soundtracks or ambient/instrumental composers. This year, I wanted to list my top five favorites that I’ve listened to while writing. (Note: these are my personal choices and they’ve all been released in 2015. If it wasn’t released this year, it doesn’t make the list!)

#10: Dying Light Original Soundtrack by Pawel Blaszczak

Why: As a big fan of Blaszczak’s soundtracks for “Dead Island” and its sequel, I was extremely excited to hear what he’d be doing with “Dying Light”. The soundtrack for “Dying Light” is a perfect mixture of thoughtful isolation, of tension and terror. It differs from the Dead Island soundtracks by incorporating a bit more synthesizer into it, making it feel a bit more technical and almost CSI-like. Several of the tracks were very similar which doesn’t lead to much variety. Thing is: that consistency makes it a PERFECT soundtrack to listen to while working on any police procedural, detective story, or crime drama. It’s also great for any urban paranormal stories you might be working on. Track picks: Horizon, Invitation, Demolition, Now They Are Coming, Praise the Sunlight, Breakdown

Continue reading

Inspiration Through Music: Undertale Soundtrack

Undertale was something that honestly passed me by at first. I missed the initial hype about this game. I am so, so glad that I didn’t let it slip by completely. Undertale tells the story of a human falling down a hole into another realm ruled by monsters. After a feud several years prior, monsters were banished underground by humans and have been searching for a way to pass through the barrier. The human naturally also wants to find a way through it to get back home and so embarks on a journey to get there, encountering oodles of odd characters along the way.

Continue reading

Inspiration Through Music: Become Ocean

How would you capture the depth of the ocean in your writing? How would you creatively sculpt its darkness, its mystery, its vastness, and its beauty into words? How would you even go about composing such a piece? Everything about John Luther Adams “Become Ocean” does this. There is a natural grace, a gentle ambiance, and an escalating reverence that perfectly captures how mankind loves, venerates, disrespects, and is in awe of the ocean. But the song isn’t just about what the ocean is; it is about becoming it. It’s about transforming and transporting.

I was lucky enough to have been introduced to “Becoming Ocean” through the Discover Weekly playlist in Spotify, an online music program. The playlist updates weekly, introducing you to 30 new songs each Monday. Last week was when I was graced with “Becoming Ocean”. It is a collaborative effort of composer John Luther Adams, Ludovic Morlot, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

Continue reading

Inspiration Through Music: The Village Soundtrack

Two weeks ago, I came to the somewhat depressing decision that I needed to rewrite my book (again) from the beginning. And shortly after starting the rewrite, I stopped and started the rewrite again. I’ve probably done this ten or so times with this book. But now, I really feel like I’m in the right place with it. The Wild Dark has been a difficult write for me in many ways that I thought Memento Mori (my latest release) was. The Wild Dark deals most importantly with friendship, loyalty, humanity, depression, and loss. The protagonist longs for a simpler life, a way to lose herself in ordinary routines so that she doesn’t have to face the death of her best friend and failed relationship with her fiance. This all happens in the wake of a supernatural event that brings a strange transformation to the world she knows and loves.

Like all of my stories, I have a playlist of songs that I listen to when working. For this particular story, I have two: one featuring music with lyrics and one without. The without list is long and from the very beginning, has featured music by respected composer James Newton Howard. The most featured of his music is from M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village Soundtrack, which (in my opinion) has some of the most beautiful music ever composed. The undulating violins and contemplative, tranquil piano effectively take you inside a world filled with characters who wish to live simpler lives, characters who are innocent and have trouble even conceiving wickedness. They are terrorized by legendary creatures that live in the woods around their bucolic village, creatures who have decided that the peaceful truce they’ve shared for many years is now void. The Village is not so much a horror film as it is a romantic one and that is reflected in every track that Howard wrote. Just like The Village, The Wild Dark is more about the love and bond between two friends and where that takes them than it is about the apocalyptic events surrounding them. Today, I’ll be sharing a few songs from Howard’s soundtrack along with what I see when I listen to them.

Continue reading

Inspiration Through Music: Lisa: The Painful RPG

LISA Soundtrack cover art

Some of you probably caught my Horror-FAVE Friday blog featuring Lisa: The Painful RPG and all the things about it that make it an outstanding game. I briefly touched on the music composed by the game’s creator, Austin Jorgensen, or as he prefers to call himself, Widdly 2 Diddly. There is a very eclectic mix of tunes in Lisa that call for more atmospheric, scene-setting pieces, as well as outright pumped up beats. Since the game contains a lot of RPG battles, there’s a fair amount of dubstep, hiphoppy, rap, and rock type pieces and even some that are a bit more undefinable. The premise of the game revolves around Brad, who is living in a post-apocalyptic land called Olathe with some of his childhood friends. All of the women and children of the world have vanished in something known as the Flash. Brad happens upon a baby girl who he names Buddy and takes it upon himself to raise her and protect her. When she’s taken from him, he vows to get her back using any means necessary. Thus begins his humorous, depressing, hopeful, and often depraved journey.

Continue reading