I always wanted to be involved in movies, and I had watched hundreds of hours of documentaries on making the shows I adored. One of my favorites is the twelve-disc extended edition Lord of the Rings boxset. I have watched every minute of those production diaries. Twice.
Gus became the musical mastermind that polished off my early ideas and taught me a ton about how to craft and organize thoughts into song. His haunting voice was perfect for the soulful folksy sound I envisioned as I wrote the novel. Some of the influences on the songs we created were: Lukas Rossi, Mumford & Sons, City & Colour, X-Ambassador, and Reuben and the Dark.
I handed Gus my early lyrics, and we went back and forth for months tweaking the little details. What started as one or two songs turned into four. While I take credit for a bit of the lyrics, the vocals and guitar were all Gus. I only provided some light coaching to get him to the sound I had in mind, then let him paint the canvas the way he was most comfortable.
In the final moments before I put Someone’s Story out to the world, I added references to the songs Gus and I had worked on, then I used the songs to help launch the book. I don’t like long pitches. Instead, my project pitch for both my books is simple. Listen to a few songs. If you like what you hear, pick up the book!
Although my work with Gus was ending, I didn’t stop working on music. I moved to my next project. Something even more ambitious. Around the time of publishing Someone’s Story, I became a graduate of Lights Film School, an entry-level filmmaking program now closed. Years earlier, during my first days in that program, I started an idea. It was about a creature attacking a music festival. The thought was so grandiose I couldn’t even write it at the time. Someone’s Story just kind of popped out while I was teaching myself how to think big for Pulse.
Pulse’s creature and music portion didn’t change much from that first concept: imagine the biggest music festival on the planet, but a mysterious creature gets loose and causes chaos.
That idea simmered the entire time I wrote my first novel, and with my expanded author toolkit, I got to work inventing. Of course, I created a DJ character, and I embarked on a journey to bring some of his music to life. I connected with a real-life DJ and electronic music producer in Australia named Skrybe. We started creating a song from the first draft of Pulse named “Limitless”. We went back and forth for months, and Skrybe brought this crazy big sound to the table that sounded just like the kind of EDM you would hear at a festival. Think Skrillex, Adventure Club, or Daft Punk.
I kept tinkering on the manuscript for Pulse and started working with Skrybe on another track. This tense cinematic instrumental captured the energy I wrote with, and I felt it was the perfect teaser for the project sound, so I named it “Pulse” and released it almost immediately, keeping “Limitless” in my back pocket.
Then, something unexpected happened…
This was all going on during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canada Council for the Arts put out a request for digital art, and I was lucky enough to be awarded a grant. Everything I had done so far was just lyric videos and music visualizers. With that grant, I started a more ambitious plan. I wanted to try and animate my festival.
I found an amazing pixel artist out of Italy named Andrea Putortì. He is one of the best in the world. We took inspiration from the music video for the song “White Flag” by Delta Heavy and started going back and forth on how to bring the festival in my novel to life with a retro Nintendo vibe.
The video for “Limitless” took about eight months to make. I created some smaller music videos at the same time and kept revising the manuscript for Pulse. These were all excellent #stayhomestaysafe projects.
Right at the finish line for “Limitless”, I brought in a talented Ukrainian video editor named Nik Ganzina. He was able to hyper-stylize everything Andrea had done, bringing it to the tempo of the song. There are not that many pixel art music videos out there, and I am so proud of the tiny team that pulled this off!
I had a little bit of grant money left over before I submitted “Limitless”, so I used the last of it to book a vocalist for a special project I had dubbed “Perduto”. That vocalist is fellow Canadian Armenia Sarkissian. One of her many talents is she is a classically trained opera singer. She and I took my author message in Pulse and translated it into Italian. She then recorded operatic vocals that have serious Lord of the Rings soundtrack vibes all over them. Skrybe and I went back and forth trying to bring the Pulse sound. The final result is ethereal and awe-inspiring!
To bring everything full circle, I even wrote another song with Gus. A dark, grungy alternative rock track titled “Monster” and evoking feelings of “Something in the Way” by Nirvana or “Nutshell” by Alice in Chains.
All this work helped me get myself involved with crowdfunding on a small level for a few movie projects in 2022. Witch, an indie horror film from Marc Zammit, and In Search of Darkness, an 80s sci-fi documentary. So proud to have my own IMDB page, which I could only dream about a few years ago. Maybe one day Pulse will be credited under the producer section there. All I can do is keep working hard and dreaming big!
This piece was written by B.A. Bellec. He is the winner of the Reader Views Reviewer’s Choice Literary Award in the Young Adult Category for his debut novel Someone’s Story (drama). His second novel, Pulse (dystopian sci-fi horror), launches a new series and releases on December 1, 2021. You can find Bellec and all these books/music on his YouTube, website, or social media.
Categories: Non Fiction