MIXTAPE: J W HORNER | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Words: Jon Horner

My debut novel, Trust In Trick, is released this month. I like to listen to music when writing. I suppose it’s a kind of attempt at sensory deprivation to help me focus and not get distracted by the ‘real world’. I play music loud or listen through earphones to achieve this. It means I can write pretty much anywhere too. This can be problematic though as sometimes I find myself going off with the musician on their journey rather than finding my own path. I have slowly developed an ear for music that provides a good writing soundtrack, for example I avoid songs with words. It’d be a smidge embarrassing if I accidentally plagiarised some great lyric, mistaking the singer’s voice for my own subconscious. Here are some songs that I hit hard whilst writing this book.

Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt – Man Carrying Thing
This album was my go to if I needed to knock out some serious wordage. It has a very restless, intense energy and that kind of works its way into the mind and fingers. Before I know it, I’m giving the keyboard a right good battering. There’s a freedom to their performances that is liberating too. “Let’s not worry about where to put that comma. Let’s just get the feeling down.”

Jóhann Jóhannsson – Moral Vacuums
Tragically gone far too soon, but at least we still have his transcendent music. I love Jóhann Jóhannsson and not just because he is my celebrity lookalikey. He is a true great of our time. This huge song is perfect for writing a moment of great significance, like describing an affecting landscape or a character’s moment of catharsis. I often feel too small and limited to write these special moments; listening to Jóhann’s music makes me feel close enough to something that matters to at least try to describe it, even if I can’t create it.

Benedicte Maurseth – Eidfyrder
I’m big on drone when writing and this is that but with lovely little flutters of dark beauty thrown in. Edgy strings merging with earthy rumbles are a perfect soundtrack for a trip into those dark places in your mind.

Henriette Bosmans – Chanson
Classical music is supposed to make babies more cleverer isn’t it? I’m not sure about that but it’s good for getting in a grandiose, expressive mood. It just makes me feel a bit fancy. I get a bit bolder with words with this kind of stuff on. This piece is very cinematic and fits well with descriptive writing.

Ivan the Tolerable and his Elastic Band – Mothra II
It’s big and frantic. It’s dramatic and a little scary. Perfect for writing building tension or a bad trip. As well as making all of his amazing music, Oli (Ivan) did the artwork for the book. That’s not strictly relevant here but it’s cool and shows what a dude he is. This album was recorded in Toft House.

Haiku Salut – Enlist
These guys are one of my absolute faves. I’ve followed them since the beginning and have even been lucky enough to share a stage with them. They are masters at using space and as such have naturally navigated into the arena of soundtracks. Those spaces leave room for the words to come.

Group Listening – Blue Crystal Fire
Just a clarinet and a piano, guys. That’s all you need. Two friends playing nice tunes on their instruments and there is contentment in every note. A real pallet cleanser, this. Great for writing a moment of recovery after a stressful passage.

Sjaella – Stars
Choral music isn’t for all occasions but when in need of a bit of auditory inspiration to write a bit of awe, let those voices soar! I’ve never written about anything ancient but if I ever do, this song is going on repeat.

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