Tag Archives: music

Cover Reveal: Kitty and Cadaver

Kitty and Cadaver is being launched this weekend at Continuum – and here I’d like you all to see the gorgeous cover designed by Willsin Rowe (who has done so many fantastic covers for me!)

If you’re unable to attend Continuum for the launch, never fear – I’ll be holding a public launch in July at a Melbourne venue where Jess Harris and her band will perform some of the songs from the book!

Australian Music: 2014

Richmond’s Corner Hotel

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. 

Just as well, not only for Australian cultural life, but for the music sector’s contribution to the economy (valued at over a billion dollars in 2013).

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.

Check out the first three novellas in the Duo Ex Machina series!

Research: Music Folklore and History

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?

Research: A home in Carlton

When Duo Ex Machina‘s Frank and Milo first appeared in a story, they’d just returned from Amsterdam – they were kinda big with the Dutch – to attend a funeral in Fremantle. They had no home but a hotel. 

By the second story in 2004, they were on a publicity tour, and still no home was mentioned. At this stage, Frank had in fact inherited a flash house by the Swan River but here they were in hotels again. Milo’s mother and some extended family were dotted about Melbourne, though.

So here we are in 2009 with Number One Fan and I thought it was about time they had a home of their own. The house by the river was full of sad memories, and besides, it’s a lot harder for me to research locations when I don’t live in Perth any more.

When looking for a home for them in Melbourne, I knew I wanted them to live in one of those beautiful Victorian-era two-storey houses with iron lace and stacks of charm. I knew I wanted them to be somewhere with an open view in front of them, in a suburb that connected to their Italian roots. While they had a heritage home, I wanted them to live somewhere full of young energy; maybe on the line between traditional and hipster.

After a bit of poking about, I kept coming back to Carlton. Although Lygon Street, also called ‘Little Italy’, is a bit overhyped, it’s still a lovely area when you get away from that central street. It’s said Melbourne cafe culture started here, with all the Italian restaurants. It’s home to La Mama Theatre (where playwright David Williamson made his debut), Readings Bookstore, Cinema Nova, and Italian delicatessens, and Melbourne University is just over the tramlines.

Carlton was established just after the Victorian Gold Rush, in 1851. It started out a bit posh – Sir Redmond Barry (the man who pronounced the death sentence on Ned Kelly) lived on Rathdown Street in the early days – but became a place of small industry and the working class. The Jewish population got their synagogue in 1919, and after WWII an influx of Italians strongly influenced the area’s character, along with all those hungry minds at the university.

Some beautiful houses with iron lace are dotted all about Carlton. Quite a few parks are in the area too. I went for a walk around it one recent sunny day to choose where I’d like their house to be, and to see what was nearby. 

This row of terrace houses opposite Argyle Square was the best option. From those front balconies, people can look over the English elms in the park and see the students lollling about on the lawn to study, or families picnicking and eating ice-cream they bought up on Lygon Street, a short walk away. Around the corner is The Lincoln Hotel if they want a quietish drink.  At the Lygon Street end of the square is what was in 2009 a red brick power substation, but as of a few months ago is a new cafe called Parco.

The location was right but the houses there weren’t so I took some small streets, crossing Lygon and heading towards Drummond and Rathdown Streets. There I found two lovely white terrace houses. One of them has beautiful leadlighted decorations on the downstairs window and above the door. The other was plainer at ground level, but had lovely etched glass in the upstairs window and the balcony door.

A wee bit of googling gave the prices that they last sold for. One of them, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and even a car space, went for $800K in 2005. I think Frank’s Swan River place would have covered that.

Of course, Frank and Milo’s place isn’t really real. I’ll be playing around with its insides and outsides, maybe having them refurbish and add a fancy music room onto the back of the house while the front gazes onto the park with its demure 1890s lace of iron.