For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, last week or so the staff at M.I.T.N.G began a new series called “Let Music Be Your Muse”, the reason was to get artist from all backgrounds to share with us the music they listen too when they are creating. This week were fortunate enough to have with us in the studio via internet bestselling science fiction/fantasy author and, I think I can call acquaintance, Philip Reeve. I’ve been a fan of Philips for some time and have read and reread his wonderful Mortal Engines series about a dozen times. I reached out to him awhile back when I got word that his book Mortal Engine’s was to be adapted into a film by none other than Peter Jackson. Years down the road it turned out to be a rumor, but never fear their are studios eying his work for future releases. When I emailed Philip about this series he was a bit reluctant given the type of music I usually post on M.I.T.N.G’S playlist. His worry was that it wasn’t going to be as cool enough. Oh, that Philip…so he writes me back with a list of the musician’s that inspired him and color me impressed! The man has amazing taste! Everything from rock to electronica. Just like an artist to play down his or her excellent taste, they just have an uncanny knack for delivering the blase. Guess that’s why we love em. Without further ado this is what Philip had to say about the music he listens to.
There are a lot of references to bands and songs scattered through my Predator Cities books, so people tend to think I must be a bit of a muso, but actually I just like the names of certain bands and songs. For instance, Iʼd never heard of the 13th Floor Elevators when I wrote Mortal Engines, but Iʼd heard of them, and I knew 13th Floor Elevator was a cooler name for a giant airship than Leviathan or Prometheus or whatever giant airships are usually called in books like mine…
Music has never been of huge importance to me, and for a long time in my twenties and thirties I pretty much stopped listening to it. If I did put a CD on, it was usually something orchestral. Life in a city is so often blighted by inconsiderate neighboursʼ sound-systems booming and thudding that I found I couldnʼt listen for pleasure to anything with a strong beat to it. Now that I live in the country thatʼs no longer such a problem, and the arrival of the i-pod has started me listening to a wider range of music again. Itʼs nice to be able to hear something quite randomly, or remember some obscure song I liked in the ʻ80s, and download it straight away.
I canʼt listen to music at all while Iʼm writing, but sometimes if Iʼm stuck Iʼll lie down and shut my eyes and listen to some classical piece, and that helps to change the weather in my head, so that new ideas and images appear.
The other MITNG playlists Iʼve seen have been filled with artists who Iʼve never heard of before. I donʼt think anyone will discover much thatʼs new in mine; it mainly consists of familiar favourites from my teens, plus a couple of recent things Iʼve stumbled upon. I hope you like them…
Swordfishtrombones – Tom Waits
I love Tom Waits. His songs are like waking up in a cheap hotel while someone in the room next door plays old polkas on a wind-up gramophone and a mad tramp sings along in the street outside. His lyrics are always superb.
Frozen Heart – The Smoke Fairies
I stumbled upon the Smoke Fairies on a free CD which came with a copy of The Word, and excellent UK music/arts magazine which, sadly, ceases publication this month. I love the combination of those very pure, clear, English folk voices and the grimy blues guitar…
The Golden Age – Asteroids Galaxy Tour (oh yeah the Heineken commercial song)
Something I kept hearing on the radio a few summers back.
America – Simon and Garfunkel
This always makes me feel very nostalgic for the America of the 1960s, even though I donʼt know America and was only four years old when the 1960s ended. And for some reason the line, ʻIt took me six weeks to hitch-hike from Saginawʼ makes me want to CRY.
I could have picked almost anything by David Bowie.
11:59 – Blondie
One of the first bands I got into. They manage to be both cool and fun, and Debbie Harry had a great pop voice. This song comes off their album Parallel Lines, and was always one of my favourites. And it has a monumentally cheesy organ solo in the middle…
Nature Boy – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Iʼm not a fan of Nick Cave, but there are two or three of his songs which I love. This one includes the couplet “I was wandering round the flower show like a leper going down with some sort of nervous hysteria / I saw you standing there, green eyes, black hair, up against the pink and purple wisteria” So whatʼs not to like?
St Vincent – Black Rainbow
Another recent discovery for me.
Tales of the Future from the Bladerunner soundtrack – Vangelis
The Blade Runner soundtrack is a thing of beauty, and I remember being struck by this piece the first time I saw the movie, the way that voice suddenly rises above the doomy synthesizer chords.
Metamorphosen – Richard Strauss (if itʼs not too long)
I believe this inspired by the ruins of Germany after World War Two: it certainly has a sombre, melancholy feeling to it. I find it very beautiful though, and itʼs one of the few pieces of music that has directly inspired pieces of my writing.
Cello Suite no. 1 – J.S.Bach
I have a recording of the Bach cello suites by Yo-Yo Ma. I donʼt know enough about music to explain why they are perfect, but they are.
Neptune, The Mystic, from The Planets suite – Gustav Holst
My parents had a record of The Planets when I was little, and it was the first music I remember really loving. Itʼs been somewhat devalued since then because John Williams mined it so mercilessly for the music to Star Wars etc. Hopefully Neptune is one of the less familiar-sounding pieces.
Okay this last one has got me wanting to do some serious research. Philip you just blew my mind. this Gustav Holst piece is Star Wars. Oh my G-d! You see what you can learn when you find out what your favorite artist are listening to? Great stuff there all around! M.I.T.N.G would like to thank Philip for dropping by our studio today and letting us in on his world if only for a second…he’s a very busy man. Remember if your a fan of Sci-fi fantasy please check out Philip’s books they are epic masterpieces in that genre. G-d Speed!