My Hypercolor Heart: Muse/Music, Synth And Swoon Edition

It took me a week to write this post but I have a confession: I’m an addict, and music is my drug. Always has been.

I was that one kid–intense, straight A’s but dreaming through class while movies played out in my head to “Space Age Love Song” by Flock of Seagulls and Thompson Twins’ “Hold Me Now.” I related to Duckie in Pretty In Pink though I was a lot girlier, being a chick and all–splayed on my eyelet comforter, ceiling-gazing while Moz crooned. I was that spaced-out girl at the skating rink, sunburned, my hair too wild to hold curling iron curls. I held my friend’s Coke while she skated backwards– her bangs were so perfect, her makeup sparkling in the light-glitter of the big ball and I just I sat there, my heart giddy from OMD’s “If You Leave” shimmering over the loudspeakers. I was the couples-skate voyeur watching the world spin in punchdrunk circles. And I didn’t care… I was lost in music the way others were lost in grasping hands and kisses that smeared away the glitter-gloss. I lived for New Wave, New Romantic–for the poetry of synth and lyrics of love. And I still do. Synthpop, swoony shoegaze, electronic daydreams…all these years later, I’m still in love.


I had two very early crushes I can remember–Han Solo, and Bono’s voice. The mile-wide reverb on Bono’s vocals and those Joshua Tree guitars were my little-girl drug (even better when I daydreamed about Han Solo tearing through the galaxy to U2’s music). Soon, mix tapes were my obsession–guys, I was good at it. Cover art and everything. Cyndi, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, The Cure. Depeche Mode if I was feeling darker, Simple Minds and Crowded House, Tears for Fears, Peter Gabriel, Prince, OMD, Cocteau Twins, Echo and the Bunnymen. Music shaped my aesthetic sensibilities and colored my dreams. Day after day, I sat on the bus with my headphones crushed to my ears. I lost myself in those voices…clean, idealized and distant versions the man or woman behind the mic who was now a totemic symbol of slow dances and borrowed jackets scented with cheap musky cologne, of field trips to the harbor when I smelled late May in my hair and all around me, sunblock and ocean-salt on warm skin.


Music made the crappiest school day into a movie and we were all important to the plot. Even when I’d been made fun of for earnest nerdiness, or when I’d had to give my meanest murder-eyes to the jerk that was messing with my friend–it was okay when I could escape into lyrics and hooks. (See Donnie Darko and the right-on use of “Head over Heels” by Tears for Fears). Sometimes, it even made the pain kind of beautiful. And those sounds sunk in. They beat in the blood of my nascent writing, tangled like roots beneath my ideas. Like “Push” by The Cure. I swear, half of my thesis bloomed darkly from a dream that song lodged in my psyche.

Music also helped soothed the violence of my youth. Driving home, listening to The Smiths “There is a Light,” or the Pixies UK Surf cut of “Wave of Mutilation” in my piece of crap car with its temperamental tape deck, racing from one orange puddle of street lamp radiance to the next. . .I could face the discord around me much easier with these songs in my life. I could process the vehemence of my own awkward feels. To this day, “Bizarre Love Triangle” is still like that rollercoaster gut-drop of first-blush crush. When they walk by, smiling, sunlight through the windows gilding them and it’s so perfect–


These past few years, to my delight, there are spiritual successors to the music that gave my writing its glimmer–music with splashes of electropop, dreampop. Synth-heavy, open-reverbed, sounding out layered vocals and daydream-swoon. M83 and their soaring, glorious walls of sound, Chvrches’ perfect candy-necklace hooks, Washed Out and vocals like something from a half-remembered dream. Hooray for Earth–“Sails” is a perfect song and their entire catalogue is awesome. And The Chain Gang of 1974–my god, his voice is cotton candy and spiced rum and forever-summer and I’ve put both albums on every writing playlist in the entire world and will add the third when it comes out.

This music Is Important. I’ve been writing to a soundtrack of synthpop since 5th grade. Poems drenched in Love’s Baby Soft, Bonnie Bell mirror-kisses and tear-smudged mascara. Stories I dreamed up with my friends on merry-go-rounds in weedy parks, the sun-hot metal burning our hands while we held tight and spun, dizzy and giggling about the word ‘love.’Maybe it’s the optimism of this music–or something as simple as vocal treatments. This stuff’s mic’ed differently than a lot of 90’s-00’s garagey music (which I love for different reasons) and the new New Wave is no exception–at least as far as I can tell from talks with my hubby who has some pretty good audio-engineering training. Maybe it’s layering of sound that can somehow splash late summer sun over my senses and wash my world in a 35mm memory-haze of wonder. Whatever it is, it’s my best writing fodder and my truest Muse (I’m imagining him in Dockers and Drakkar Noir).


The other day, I read a forum thread with people whining that so much of ‘music now’ has ‘already been done.’ Whatever–nothing new under the sun is old news. Good new music is a welcome variation on an already awesome theme. New takes, new songs, new styles, new voices–it doesn’t mean that what came before is diminished, or that what has come after is derivative. And people always find ways to mix it up. I love things like the additions of dirtier guitar over clean synth and drum machines, of slinky trip-hop elements that sneak in, of industrial grinding beats with dubstep overlay. I mean, hell yeah. Go on, musicians, mix it up. Make it new. Give me my fix. As long as it’s rad, I don’t care. Maybe it’s that 80’s mall-girl niche of my brain talking, but my Hypercolor heart knows what it wants–more of a good thing. More, more, more…

(If you like any of this music, go buy it. All of it. And buy music like it. It keeps these acts in business, which keeps me in writing music…)

So, dear readers. what music inspires you to do what you are driven most to do? <3


  1. Crap, more music to put on my queue to investigate. It never ends, this (not-)shit. :-D

    I’m right there with you on the importance of music in my life. My musical attention was unfortunately a little slow to start and had a muddy early developmental period, but I eventually crossed a point of no return.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Truly, it never ends (this–indeed–notshit). And I both love and loathe that part of music-obsession but yeah, really it’s just complicated love.

      I’ve heard people say the same, that they got late starts–often, we don’t have a lot of choice what we’re exposed to as kids. I had music-loving parents and to this day, I am proud of my dearly departed mom for asking, when hearing Every Day is Like Sunday if it was The Smiths or Morrissey solo. But I also heard a lot of classic country (I’m talking, Hank Sr. and Earnest Tubb classic), bluegrass and gospel, and 50’s-60’s pop. Bottom line, we grow into our music-loves, like any other hobby/love–and yeah, you totally have interesting/diverse taste. I still have you and Josh to thank for the gift of Porcupine Tree!

      Point of no return…it’s a good place to be. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the awesome comment!


  2. Much of the music I listen to is on my playlists because of the stories I can imagine — and sometimes have NO CHOICE but to imagine. Florence + the Machine’s “No Light, No Light” is the 6-minute soundtrack to the non-existent trailer for the non-existent film version of one of my favorite books. Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” is the backing track to one of my most cherished roleplay scenes. And Muse’s “Starlight” brings up memories of our Changeling game. ;D

    I can’t NOT picture these mini-head-movies during these songs. I lose long minutes on my commute to playing out the imaginings in my head. If I made a playlist of only storytelling songs I expect my time on the treadmill would be over in a flash, provided I didn’t fall off whilst picturing Felix’s traumatic fight with Thomas, or Apollo Aetherial breaking free of his Fairest mistress.

    There are so many other songs and artists like this for me. U2 does it every time; if “With or Without You” or “Bad” is playing, I will not be exactly conscious for the next 4 minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my swoony Bunny, I *knew* you would understand! <3 And still, Starlight brings back memories of darkfae and golden bisshies on guitar while we hacked and slashed our way through the world. Your character was exquisite. I’m reasonably sure that mind-movies with rad soundtracks is how all the best writing in the world gets done no matter what genre of level of publicity–I can only imagine the journal pages and fan-fic forums alive with pure awesome and inspired by music…

      And yeah, “With Or Without You” gets a ‘hngh’ to this day. HNGH.

      Lovely to hear from you–ty so much for the comment! <3


  3. I was raised on jazz and classical, and only came into other music when I was well and truly an adult. The up-side is that songs others are completely burned out on seem fresh and new to me :) My tastes are now weirdly specific and eclectic at the same time (I like a little bit of everything, but only when done by THESE PEOPLE and no one else).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Man, that’s some good stuff, too. I love your ‘only rock is Rachmaninoff’ story, hehehe. <3 Music, art, writing–any of it is so subjective–we like what we like. And that's awesome. And also, super helpful for those writing playlists, right? :D Ty for reading, and ty so much for the comment! :D


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