Kitty & Cadaver was revealed to the world at Continuum Convention in June 2019. It was a delightful little do, but restricted to convention attendees and because of the panels going on in rooms all around us, we weren’t able to have any live music as we’d planned.
Now we can welcome Kitty & Cadaver in musical style and to a wider audience!
Over on my Patreon, I’ve started posting cahpters for the fourth Duo Ex Machina book, set in 2014.
Kiss and Cry brings Frank and Milo five years on from the events of Number One Fan: Frank is a successful producer and Milo is concentrating on raising funds and doing work with his Foundation. I’m inventing lyrics and bands for the story, but the real music scene was full of amazing real Australian musicians.
Melbourne live music was also changing in 2014. Music venues had been facing difficulties with restrictive regulations on things like liquor licensing, noise level complaints from new residents in areas where venues had been for decades (we nearly lost Cherry Bar), and conditions for all-ages concerts – then in March 2014, the Victorian government introduced reforms to ensure the city’s incredible music scene not only survived but continued to thrive.
Actually, a report by Pollstar had revealed Melbourne venues were among the top in Australia: from Richmond’s Corner Hotel as the top Australian spot and 13th worldwide. (In fact, the Corner makes an appearance in my upcoming novel, Kitty and Cadaver.)
In 2014, Sia, Iggy Azalea and 5 Seconds of Summer were all charting in the UK and US while the JJJ Top 100 2014 was full of Chet Faker, the Hilltop Hoods, Lorde, Chvrches and Vance Joy and contained the since-ubiquitous Uptown Funk.
(While we’re here, this is one of my favourite videos using Uptown Funk.)
Here in 2019, some of the venues that were under threat 5-10 years ago are still going strong: Cherry Bar, the Tote and The Espy, which has just undergone a massive refurbishment and still has three stages and some impressive cocktail bars as well as free local music in the basement.
But back in 2014 Melbourne, Frank and Milo and their friends and family will continue to listen to the Hilltop Hoods’ Cosby Sweater and Sia’s Chandelier and donate to the soundproofing of venerable venues to save them for the future.
With Kitty and Cadaver book scheduled for a June release, I thought I’d share some of my reference books on music that I dip into for it. (And will continue to use for a sequel!)
Apart from the medieval research I did for “Hoorfrost” (which is in the Scar Tissue and Other Stories collection) and my reading on water-related British folklore (that’s for the as yet unwritten second K&C book), I need from time to time to refer to music-related folklore that I might adapt for the history of the band, as well as more practical references to musical instruments and trends throughout the ages.
Music Through the Looking Glass is a kind of modern lexicon – perhaps it can be seen as ‘folklore’ if you squint. It’s “a very personal dictionary of Musician’s jargon, shop-talk and nicknames, and a mine of information about musical curiosities, strange instruments, word origins, odd facts, orchestral players’ lore and wicked stories about the music profession’.
For example, there is a condition called “cellist’s nipple’ (cured through the use of a more padded bra) and “flautist’s chin” (an allergic reaction to the silver) and “fiddler’s neck”, which can look like a love bite.
Apparently “domino thumper” was a 19th century music hall slang term for a pianist and “licorice stick” was an American nickname for the clarinet.
The Larousse Encyclopedia of Music is a much more sensible book, and I got it so I could look at more historically accurate elements of music when I’m writing stories set during the band’s 700 year history. I haven’t had to use it much yet.
I’m more fond of Troubadour’s Storybag, as I’m looking for folk tales that I can adapt as having a “true story” involving a band with the magic gift of the Minstrel Tongue.
The stories retold come from all over the world – Nigeria, Greece, New Zealand, Japan, the US and Turkey, among others. The Dancing Shoes are there, and The Pied Piper, but also stories of singing bones, magic fiddles, nightingales and flutes.
All in all, I wish I’d had more call to dip into these research books. Perhaps I need to randomly select entries and use them as prompts for some short stories set in the Kitty and Cadaver universe.
Do you have any favourite musical folklore to share?
The next book in the Duo Ex Machina series, Number One Fan, is set in Melbourne in 2009.
What was going on in Australia and Melbourne that year?
For a start, I found and photographed this plaintive sign which had been shoved into a bin down near the Sofitel Hotel, on the Flinders Lane side.
I never did find out why the placard had been made or why it had been dumped as though it caused the placard-maker pain, but the sign and its sad ending have always made me wonder what the story was.
In 2009, Australia’s Prime Minister was Kevin Rudd. He and the Labor Party had won government by a landslide in 2007 and he promptly signed the Kyoto Protocol, apologised to the Stolen Generations, finished pulling Australian troops out of Iraq and instigated several education and communications policies, including the National Broadband Network.
It was kind of downhill after that, and in mid-2010 he was replaced by his deputy, Julia Gillard. But that’s a whole other year and not part of Frank and Milo’s 2009 story.
In that year, Australia was playing it’s regular game of Natural Disaster Bingo, with floods in Queensland, the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria that killed 173 people, torrential rains in NSW, followed by more floods in Queensland and NSW.
This was the year Geelong won the Septemer AFL Grand Final and Shocking won the Melbourne Cup in November.
In February, the St Jerome Laneway Festival overflowed its location after four successful years (leading to new locations in 2010 that would fit everyone). The line-up included The Temper Trap, Tame Impala and Architecture in Helsinki.
The Black Eyed Peas, Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga and the Hilltop Hoods were all over the charts. Jessica Mauboy and Guy Sebastian were in the Top 100 too.
So that’s a taste of what was happening in 2009, when Frank and Milo are recording a new album, setting up an office to deal with admin, and find themselves drawn into another maelstrom of crime and danger.