Hi again- I haven’t really got an introduction today, so I’ll just get straight on with things.
I’ve had a project on the go now for at least a year, if not maybe longer- I’ve been writing a short novel, provisionally titled, “You’re In A Bad Way”. At the moment it’s very fragmented, with different ‘chapters’ using different characters/situations, but all interlinked. These range from a brief character sketch, up to a full mini-story. Sadly, if remains ultimately plotless- but there’s a reason for that. I want it to be realistic- sometimes weeks can go by without anything particularly exciting happening, so you take a celebration in the mundane…or at least I do…….fine, I’ll be honest- simply, I’m not sure where I want to go with it at the moment. I obviously want the various stories and people to become intertwined a little more, which I’ve been doing, but I want to move it a little further first.
It’s about a disconnected group of people- some of which know one another, some don’t- who live from day-to-day getting by. They want more than what they have. They aspire and dream constantly, but still embrace the simple, the dull, the trivial.
But another thing that I found
interesting quite fun was to create a mixtape for it too. Because I’ve been writing, the whole thing is riddled with references to music and films, amongst other things. Songs playing on radios, snippets heard in cars, in cafes, on the Walkman of someone on the train, they all get mentioned. But I wanted to make a compilation based a) on what I was listening to as I wrote, and b) songs the characters like. But before I show you, I’ll give a little bit away about the setting:
It’s set in the outskirts of London (several locations, but Bexleyheath is the most used so far) between April 1996 and June 1997, but fairly non-linear. Events from before are sometimes mentioned in passing, or foreshadow later parts. Hopefully if I write more, it’ll make more sense. Maybe. I hope.
Anyway, the songs mentioned within the story/songs that I listened to are as follows (in order of appearance/influence):
- Saint Etienne- Girl VII
- Underworld- Cowgirl
- The Prodigy- The Narcotic Suite: Skylined
- The Chemical Brothers- Where Do I Begin
- Beth Orton- Precious Maybe
- Saint Etienne- Like A Motorway
- Suede- New Generation
- Underworld- M.E.
- The Auteurs- The Upper Classes
- Placebo- Hang On To Your IQ
- Cocteau Twins- Wolf In The Breast
- My Bloody Valentine- Sometimes
- Slowdive- Machine Gun
- Future Sound Of London- First Death In The Family
- Teenage Fanclub- Neil Jung
- Manic Street Preachers- Archives Of Pain
- Manic Street Preachers- Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky
- Blur- The Man Who Left Himself
- The Wedding Present- Mercury
- Blur- Blue Jeans
- David Bowie- Sound And Vision
- Roxy Music- True To Life
- Aztec Camera- Good Morning Britain
- Suede- The Chemistry Between Us
- Saint Etienne- Mario’s Cafe
- Saint Etienne- You’re In A Bad Way
- Belle & Sebastian- Lazy Line Painter Jane
- Saint Etienne- London Belongs To Me
- The Smiths- What Difference Does It Make?
- Elastica- Connection
- Suede- The Drowners
- Kula Shaker- Knight On The Town
- Saint Etienne- Carnt Sleep
That’s it so far. You may notice there’s a lot of the same few artists there- particularly Saint Etienne. There’s a reason for that- Saint Etienne always seem good at creating a ‘sense of place’- in other words, if you soundtrack a book, or a film, or anything, it automatically begins to sound as though it should be set in a city centre in the 1990s. Which (I think) is somethng they may have been aiming for themselves. This is from the booklet inside ‘Foxbase Alpha’, which actually sums up the ethos for my writing better than I can:
June 4 1989. It’s a Saturday morning. The weather’s not bad enough to be a downer, and in the hard, black economy cash in your pocket puts a spring in your step. On the way into town, you can see London spread out before you: the tombstone skyscrapers of the City and Docklands, the winking lights of the Post Office Tower and Crystal Palace. In the distance, the hills.
Down in Camden, London is in your throat. The lowest point in the city, a sink for pollution, noise, destitution. But it’s here that you find the raw material to make the world in the way that you heard it. Walking through the congested streets and alleys, you’re assaulted by a myriad of sounds, looks and smells from all over the world, each with its own memory and possibility.
How to make sense of this? Go with the flow, find what has been forgotten, put it together in a new way. Today’s hauls are: “Mash Down” by Roots and “Bamba In Dub” by the Revolutionaries, a battered single telling you how to convert LSD into decimal currency, a couple of Northern Soul compilations on Kent, overpriced UK psych singles on labels like Camp and Page One. The look is easy- wigs, turtlenecks and corduroys: the rhythms of the moment are playing non-stop in Zoom.
The idea is mental freedom: transformation of the familiar. Primrose Hill, Staten Island, Gospel Oak, Sao Paolo, Boston Manor, Costa Rica, Arnos Grove, San Clemente, Maida Vale, Studamer: stay busy, out of phase, in love.
Wow- I’ve just realised that this is the first blog post I’ve made that is entirely devoid of pictures. I need to rectify this.
Anyway, that’s all from me for now. I’ll think up something better to ramble on about for next time. I’ll be back soon!