(This was my very first post on GeekMom waaaay back when. It eventually ended up on Wired as well. I’m still writing and performing all my geeky songs!)
Take, take, take me away.
I’ll drink whatever you put before me.
In this world I can’t stay.
Only the faerie can cure me.
“Mortal Slave” by Camelot’s Destruction
As a singer/songwriter, I’ve been told by other musicians to never share your inspiration. Let the audience decide what the songs are about. I agree for songs about love and life, experiences the listener can put themselves into. But what about a song about the perils of having an evil wizard as an ex-boyfriend? Or one about creating a clone to take over your life while you have outer-space adventures? Those songs need explaining.
Several years ago a friend emailed me his really cool dream. I turned it into the start of an urban fantasy novel. It still languishes on my hard drive. But this isn’t about failure, instead, that never-finished book sparked a whole new facet of my musical life.
In the novel-that-will-never-be, there is a teen girl who I wanted to be wearing a band t-shirt. Considering her character’s love of rebellion, I decided this band should be from the forbidden realm of Dreamtown. But what would the band be called? Something dark, but over the top, like most band names I make fun of. I came up with Camelot’s Destruction.
After I had abandoned the story, the band stayed in my imagination. What kind of music does a group made up of mythical creatures write? I was curious, so I wrote them a song. It was good. Good songs are hard to find, so my brain clicked and I started writing many songs from the band’s point of view. I could become someone else- a vampire! A demon lover! And make music through them.
But when I looked at the songs I had previously written in my career, I realized that I had been doing this all along. The ideas of fantasy, science fiction, and especially dream vs. reality were present in my lyrics. I just never talked to the audience about them before. I started covering a band that only exists in my mind. What a trip. At my shows, I don’t pretend the band is real, but the story of their creation is part of the act. My husband made a logo for them, and a small fanbase (very small) starting wearing their t-shirts at my shows.
The same friend who had that dream way back suggested I sing these songs at ConnectiCon. I asked, they offered me free admission to perform, and this past summer was my fourth year there. I had never been to a Con before, and it opened up a world of geek that I didn’t know I had been missing. That experience (and subsequent exploration of that culture) inspired me further on this songwriting journey.
When I teach songwriting, I enjoy sharing this alternative POV writing style. I will always adore sappy love songs, but singing about Sorcerer Baxt Viking Scientist to my students opens their imaginations wide. That novel may always stay asleep on my computer, but it was really about awakening a font of creativity that still flows geekily through my music.