By Molly Knox
Writing to music: you usually either love it or hate it. I personally find it near impossible to do most creative tasks without a little bit of noise or music in the background.
This summer I found myself in a fog of writer’s block, so challenging myself to sit purposefully and write some poetry to different artists before writing this article was a perfect way to conquer this. With varying results, I found that these five albums provided me with a nice variety of inspirations and let me sink into getting back to writing with focus.
Phoebe Bridgers – ‘Punisher’
A soon to be classic, Punisher is an album with nihilist beauty that I’m sorry I hadn’t listened to when it was first released. Despite being dreadfully and unfortunately late to the party with Bridgers, I have found her music to be a miracle worker when trying to tap into whimsical and sombre directions of my poetry, but also when looking for moments of cathartic angry bashing of keyboards. Garden Song and I Know The End are personal favourites as they gave my writing a sense of urgency and ease to take inspiration from. The only downside to writing to this album is getting sucked into the lyrics (a common complaint when people try to write to music) but I genuinely saw it as a challenge to throw ideas at the wall and see what stuck – in the spirit of Bridger’s dreamy, emotive and descriptive words.
Muse – Origin of Symmetry (XX Anniversary RemiXX)
Probably my favourite Muse album, Origin of Symmetry, is a tried and tested motivator and creativity activator. This 2021 remastering of songs that hold immense nostalgia for me have been a lesson in how songs you know everything about and have listened to a billion times can be fabulous at finding a writing groove without becoming distracted by something new to your ears. The changes to the original songs are enough to keep me engaged and reinvigorated by this album, but the knowing-the-songs-very-well allows me to stay focused and conjure up themes from emotions and memories I forgot I had. I’m not necessarily recommending that this album is perfect for you – but try writing to an old or forgotten favourite and see how exciting it can be!
Green-house – ‘Six songs for invisible gardens’
Electric and magical, ‘Six songs for invisible gardens’ gives the perfect space to focus and let your imagination take flight. Green-house’s music is made for writing to heal the soul in a meditative mindset. If you want to feel like a poetic forest sprite, and for relaxed and calm energy to write to, I can’t recommend this album enough. I found my writing lent into something fun and maybe a bit silly, grounding itself in metaphors but nothing too far from home. I would really recommend starting your day with writing to this album, setting you up with something relaxed and exciting.
Indigo De Souza – ‘I love my mum’
To add groove, experimentation and main character energy to your writing, why not try this gorgeous 2018 ‘live pop/ garage rock’. I found writing to this album brilliant for coming up with new ideas and jumbling them around. If you’re looking to create big combinations of emotions and concepts in your work, with music taking you in new directions when you least expect it, without becoming too much of a complicated distraction – this is the one for you! A good mix of tempos within songs and between them – you’ll likely find something to fit the tone of what you’re writing. ‘Good heart’ is a great place to start.
Debussy – ‘Debussy at Sunset’
My final suggestion is a new collection of Debussy’s work, perfect for a long and focused shot at getting some writing done. And yes, it does seem a bit of a cliché suggestion – but there’s a good reason. Debussy’s impressionist haze and mystery never fail to give me an edge when trying to think analytically and spontaneously about my work, and it lets me feel a bit pretentious. Who doesn’t love that?
Illustration by Anna Kuptsova