WRITING: Project Songs

For me, there are a handful of songs that are intrinsically linked with specific writing projects. Rather than making a ‘project playlist’ for each one, they are more diamonds in the rough of my general listening, popping up amidst a subway ride to offer inspiration about a project in the moment. I listen to it, and visuals of the project play along in my mind to the music, often leading to ideas about characters, plots, dialogue. So far, it’s worked pretty well.

So, what music has inspired what projects?

Black Dog

This urban werewolf drama is heavily tied to the music of Black Lab and People in Planes, to the point where most songs by either artist tosses me into the ‘verse of this project. Black Lab‘s “This Night”, for example, feels as good a theme song for Black Dog as I’ll ever find. I also connect Black Dog to Black Lab‘s “Keep Myself Awake” and “Bound”, People in Planes‘ “Falling By the Wayside”, “Penny” and “Narcoleptic”, Amanda Palmer‘s cover of Radiohead‘s “Idioteque”, and Florence + the Machine‘s “Remain Nameless”.


This project is, at its heart, a darker, more heartbroken Glee, and it literally features a multitude of musical numbers. I tried to find songs that would appeal to the teenage characters at its heart and have subtextual meanings for the characters’ emotional states. The songs featured in the pilot outline I’m currently working with are Fergie‘s “Glamorous”, Beyonce‘s “Sweet Dreams”, Rihanna‘s “Don’t Stop the Music” and Fleetwood Mac‘s “The Chain”, and a previous draft of the outline also included Jenny Owen Youngs‘ “Voice on Tape”, Garbage‘s “Bleed Like Me” and Matthew Good‘s “Alabama Hotel Room”, and a later episode would have featured Linkin Park‘s “Faint”.

Weirdly enough, few of these songs are in regular rotation on my iPod. Of the four still in the script, I had barely heard them before (or, in the case of “Don’t Stop the Music”, was aware of them more from a cover). That said, I now have a great fondness for them because, to me, they’re tied pretty intrinsically with characters I’ve been holding onto for months now. I’ll probably start listening to them more when I start working on the first draft of the script again.


This small-town werewolf drama* has its roots very specifically in music, as it grew from listening to music against the visuals of Northern Ontario. The concept, cast and pilot outline are very tied to specific songs, to the point where I see this world very strongly when listening to its hypothetical soundtrack. Monsters’ soundtrack consisted of Matthew Good‘s “Weapon”, David Usher‘s “Trickster”, Our Lady Peace‘s “Somewhere Out There” and “In Repair”, Gnarls Barkley‘s “Open Book”, and Fleet Foxes‘ “Your Protector”.

* Despite both being ‘werewolf series’, this one is very different than Black Dog; think Buffy vs. Angel, in a way. One’s a small town fantasy drama with a darker undercurrent, and one’s a full-on urban fantasy drama.


I’ll immediately be plunged into a trailer for my animated drama pilotTrickster whenever I listen to 30 Seconds to Mars‘ “This is War”. Every time.

For a project I’m ideally working on for MZP next year, which I can’t really discuss particulars of beyond the name (Home), I’d listen to Party Ben‘s mash-up, “Boulevard of Broken Songs”. It was a dual-lead show, so I’d envision one lead’s stories on the Green Day parts, and the other on the Oasis parts.

A currently-unreleased sequence of Darken House features a number of intense fight scenes, and for those I used the great pace of a number of Lady GaGa singles from The Fame. For some reason, they were amazing for pacing out fight scenes in my mind.

I’m sure there’s plenty more, but these are the ones I can remember. Last summer, I spent a lot of time listening to my music and developing projects, so a lot of these are from the summer.

What music do you write to?


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