As part of our Join the Relic Guild week we are delighted to welcome Edward Cox back to the Gollancz Blog for a guest post on the music behind The Relic Guild. Nominated for the British Fantasy Society Award for best fantasy and best newcomer this is one series you don’t want to miss!
Music has always been an important part of my life. I used to make my own – probably not very well, but then I wanted to be a writer, so who cares! – and if not for time constraints, I’d still be making it now. It was a lot of fun, and I remember the lifetime of hours I spent noodling around in my little studio setup very fondly. But the one thing I’ll never give up on is the passion I have for the music that I listened to. It is integral to who I am.
I don’t like X-Factor and the manufactured quagmire that dilutes content with popularity scores and saleability. It feels a little bit too much like Simon Cowell – along with whoever his latest henchmen and women are – is trying to plug into my brain and decide for me what I will like and listen to and force to the top of the charts. Perhaps I’m becoming an old man and I’m no longer supposed to understand the music scene. But I do fear that, with programs like X-Factor and the advent of the downloadable age, future generations will miss out on experiencing the joy of walking into a music shop, browsing, and discovering something that they’ve never heard before.
I have a keen sense of nostalgia every time I hear the music that my older brother and sister used to listen to. I still play the first music that I discovered for myself, occasionally wondering why I ever bothered. I still go out searching for new sounds. I celebrate the musical tastes that I share with my wife – that is to say, the music that helped us take those all important steps to finding our common ground as a couple. And I have to wonder: without music, would I enjoy writing?
Everyday there’s a different soundtrack. My headphones are on and an album is chosen before I even make tea and power up the laptop. I’m constantly surprised by the diversity of music that can help me concentrate. Some days it’ll be hard and heavy like Metallica. Others, it could be the more cerebral sounds of Pink Floyd, or something atmospheric from the likes of Tangerine Dream. If I had to hang my hat on a favourite, it would probably be the works of David Sylvian – though Gary Numan and Depeche Mode would be looking over his shoulder, and I’m just as likely to be listening to a movie soundtrack anyway.
The Relic Guild trilogy is my most ambitious work to date, and I couldn’t begin to guess at many hours and days and weeks of music I’ve listen to while writing it. Now, with the release of Book 2, The Cathedral of Known Things, I’ve come to realise that this story has formed its own soundtrack, of a kind. There are particular songs that I now relate to my characters. All of these songs I listened to while I was writing or plotting or thinking about the book. Musically, they conjure a mood or trait; lyrically, they say something about the character.
I list some of these songs and characters now in the hope that it might prompt people to agree or disagree with my choices. Difference of opinion is as important to music as it is to movies and books. But, even better, I hope this list can inspire someone to go out and discover something they’ve never heard before.
THE AGENTS OF THE RELIC GUILD:
1. Samuel – Orpheus by David Sylvian
2. Clara – Fait Accompli by Curve
3. Marney & Van Bam (the love theme) Hey Moon by John Maus
4. Gideon – I Dream of Wires by Gary Numan
5. Denton – Turn Loose the Mermaids by Nightwish
6. Angel – I Give to You by Nitzer Ebb
7. Gene – A Drowning by How to Destroy Angels
8. Macy – Walking in My Shoes by Depeche Mode
9. Bryant – Dogs by Pink Floyd