KILLER GAME PLAYLIST by Kirsty McKay
Eerie. Thrilling. Confrontational. Uplifting. Soothing.
Music is very important to me. That sentence is kind of like saying, ‘I have a great sense of humour.’ No one admits to not liking music, do they? As a teen, I was desperately secretive about what was on my Walkman. (Google it.) I liked to think I didn’t care what my peers thought of my taste, but really I was terrified that I’d be outed as a secret Scritti Politti fan when all the cool kids were listening to The Smiths. But, hey. One of the benefits of age is that you begin to genuinely not give a Shania Twain about what anyone else thinks. So with that in mind, here’s the run down on what was burning up my headphones while I was writing KILLER GAME.
Evanescence - Fallen
If there’s an album to listen to while reading KILLER GAME, this is it. Strung-out, gothic pop-angst. Searing vocals with a roar of orchestral, chaotic noise. For me this album evokes a feeling of isolation and an illusion of calm, while underneath uncontrollable, raw emotions crash against the shore. It’s quite beautiful, spooky, and also more than a little self-involved. It was the first piece of music that I thought of when preparing to write KILLER GAME and a perfect album to get me in the mood to inhabit Cate’s world. I even give it a shout-out in one of the first scenes set in the caves. Bring Me to Life is the most well-known track here, but my favourite is probably the gloomy but addictive My Immortal.
(Same kind of vibe … Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas)
Bjork - Hyperballad
Oh, Bjork, never change. I’ve loved this one for ages, but it came back to me while I was writing this book. An ear-worm of a song, and quite a story. The singer goes to a cliff every morning and throws a bunch of random stuff off the edge to the rocks below, in order to make peace with herself and get through the day. Destructive de-cluttering to get rid of emotional baggage. That’s a brave thought for a hoarder like me. Recklessness for a purpose, and a touch of silly. Also, cliffs. We like cliffs. Lots of cliffs in KILLER GAME.
The Doors - Riders on the Storm
Another song that ‘appears’ in the book. It’s a classic, of course, a cliché, really – but Jim Morrison remains an iconic figure of mystery to teens across the globe. This is ennui and 3am haze in a trippy 7 minutes. And check out the sound of those waves on the shore. You could just be on the island of Skola where KILLER GAME is set.
(See also Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album)
Tori Amos – Under the Pink
This album has a little pain and a little bit of kooky and a whole heap of atmospheric, winding piano underscoring Tori Amos’ beautiful voice. It’s thrilling and wintery and isolated, full of foreboding and yearning and a touch of sardonic humour. It’s very KILLER GAME.
(Like this? Try Kate Bush’s Aerial.)
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - Can’t Hold Us
There’s a vitality to this song that I love, a very masculine kind of energy, it’s ambitious and inspirational, earthy, hot. ‘Like the ceiling can’t hold us.’ Says it all really. This is the kind of invincibility the players in the Assassin’s Guild feel. ‘… like a Great White Shark on Shark Week.’ This song says, we’re going to be tested, but bring it on. Gotta love a brass section, too.
(And in the same mood … AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. Kanye pre Kim.)
210 Nature Sounds – 20 Hours of Relaxing Natural Ambiences for Meditation or Sleep
… or writing KILLER GAME. For the bulk of the first draft of writing KILLER GAME, I couldn’t listen to anything with lyrics because it pulled me away from the story. Distracting! And then, suddenly, I couldn’t even face music. All I was able to listen to was hour after hour of natural sounds – specifically storms, waves on the rocks, vicious rainstorms and crying seabirds. This was the soundtrack of the island of Skola, the world I was creating. I felt the sting of salt on my lips, the assault of wind on my face, then the gentle lapping of calm seas on the sand … (OK, at times I felt like I was in a spa, and the endless rain noise made me want to pee.) But blimey, for the most part, was it ever atmospheric.
(Also check out … thunderstorms, your nearest ocean, rainforests, etc. Or go to a yoga class or a beauty parlor and you can guarantee there’ll be a bit of this going on in the background. Natural sounds are great, but please note, I draw the line at whale song.)
Searched through my playlist and not found a KILLER song yet? Try these. Also in the mix while I was writing KILLER GAME: London Grammar, Daft Punk, Elbow, Afro Celt Sound System, Lindsey Buckingham, Eric Church, Gustavo Santaolalla, Timbaland and Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Eclectic taste, I tell ya.
Now buy the book to match the tunes! KILLER GAME is out now and available in all the usual places online, the high street, and in your local, friendly indie bookstore.
Thanks for having me!
Follow Kirsty on Twitter @kirkybean and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kirstymckaywriter
Check out my review of Killer Game here - hint: it was amazing!