Welcome, one and all, to today’s guest post. Today, Archer Kay Leah is here to talk about the music that helped inspire Soulbound.
Soulbound Playlist – The Themes
Hello, everyone! I’m Archer Kay Leah, author of LGTBQA+ speculative fiction romance and a total nerd of much geekery. Thanks for stopping by, and many thanks to Matt for having me here! <3
Today’s post is about one of my absolutely favourite things in the world: music! More specifically, it’s a taste of my playlist for Soulbound, from its original inception to the very last page. Music is hugely important to my creative process: whenever I write, I have to be plugged in. I really can’t write without carefully chosen tunes that suit the characters, story, and the mood of the scenes. Sometimes this results in rather long playlists like Soulbound, where the official list is 46 songs long… but the unofficial list is around 60+ songs (mostly because I listened to some once to get through a paragraph or two then swapped tracks).
This post involves the major themes from the playlist: songs that tie back to the book heavily, either because they suit the book as a whole or they relate to the characters in a deep way. I hope you enjoy it!
Tove Lo — Scars
This song. Always this song, which tops the list because of how much of the book it captures: persistence and determination, vulnerability and hurt, courage and strength, hope and going at things as a team, not alone. The tune is catchy, the beats are sick, and I’m a sucker for the very specific timing of certain sounds that give this song its epic flavour.
I love Tove’s music to begin with, so maybe I’m biased, but after hearing this on the Allegiant movie soundtrack (third movie of the Divergent franchise), I knew this story needed it. The feels, groove, and lyrics are just so bang on, applying to both Mayr and Tash’s lives, and those of their comrades. So many of them carry scars — physical, emotional, mental, spiritual — but they keep going. The song definitely works with Mayr and Tash’s relationship as a whole: when one struggles, the other keeps them going. Both have scars that won’t ever heal. Tash is reminded of those scars every single day, and they’re deep enough that some days, he needs to hold onto Mayr just to get by. And Mayr… he intends to make sure they survive the series.
Marianas Trench — One Love
Okay, so this song… I heard it while my partner and I were out for dinner. All I could think was “OMG, Mayr and Tash! This! This is it!” Since then, it’s been a theme for Soulbound because it’s the sound of their relationship.
Granted, it’s not a happy song, but the vocals, tune, rhythm, pitch, harmonies, strings, climax, timing, and overall feelings are so spot-on. Musically speaking, it is Mayr and Tash. There’s so much heartache here, so much vulnerability. Mostly this song captures what Mayr and Tash feel whenever they’re faced with the possibility of losing each other — that gut-wrenching, heart-smashing nononono. They’re totally in love with each other, so much it kills them right in the feels, especially when things aren’t going well. To lose each other would completely devastate them. Tears. All the tears.
One Republic — Say (All I Need)
This song immediately makes me think of Tash’s constant struggle to belong, to atone for things he’s done, and to just be accepted — not just accepted by others, but by himself. It’s a long, hard road to absolution, one that’s never going to be easy. Tash says a lot of things, but they aren’t always the whole truth. And when he finds something good, he desperately wants to hold onto it, even if he doesn’t feel like he deserves anything good at all. He used to think dealing with things on his own was best, and sometimes he still thinks that, even with Mayr telling him otherwise.
The whole piece just sounds so… him. The tempo is just right, with the right types of sounds in the right places with a gentle balance among them, and the vocals are carefully crafted, drawing on emotions that nearly bring me to tears. It’s a lovely blend of pop ballad with rock influences, where the guitars are well-incorporated and the drums are smartly placed, and all of that speaks to Tash’s character. There’s the soft and hard. There’s the power of feelings, memory, and words because those things matter to Tash — he’s nothing if not incredibly sensitive to emotions.
Savage Garden — Truly, Madly, Deeply
I’ve been a teary-eyed sucker for this song since it first came out. It’s just so darn pretty.
There’s a line Soulbound where Tash says, “You inspire much more than desire in me. I feel such awe for you my heart aches,” and it reminds me of this song, where unapologetic romantic notions are at its core. I love that profession of heartfelt love (romantic or otherwise), where it’s all about communicating how much one person means to another with words and imagery, without anything to complicate it. The music, vocals, and lyrics — it’s all on-point with the book. Mayr and Tash really are this sweet and sappy (and, ultimately, cheesy as all get out) with each other. There are several scenes where this song applies, some of them very obviously echoing the sentiment of the lyrics.
I mean, really, what is there left to say when this kind of talk is their normal: “I love you,” Tash whispered, threading his fingers through Mayr’s hair. “With my life, my breath, and every piece of my soul, I love you.”
I apologize for nothing.
Sarah Brightman — Eden (Enigma Remix)
Along the way, something clicked between this song and the story. I kept writing to it, mostly from Tash’s side of things. But I’m not complaining! I love Sarah’s music, and it’s a cover of the original song by Hooverphonic, which I also really enjoy. There’s something inherent in the song itself, in both versions, that speaks to how Tash feels in his relationships. It’s not necessarily in the lyrics, but in the sound: the tune, key, tempo, and rhythm… or maybe that’s the whole of it. There’s a complex set of emotions that play between those elements and the lyrics: wistfulness, sadness, want, and the need to know. That tends to be Tash, analyzing his relationships and seeing what was, what is, and what might be. Sometimes, though, he ends up overanalyzing when he really shouldn’t and things get a bit… lost.
Midnight Hour — Running Away
I first heard this on the TV show, Ghost Whisperer, and constantly replayed the end of the episode just to listen to the song over and over because, again, pretty. Sad but pretty. The piano is just so <3, and the rest of the song… *weeps*
Turns out it’s the perfect song for Tash, who has a history of running away from things, though that was before he hooked up with Mayr. Now, running away is considerably difficult, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t moments where Tash freaks out and thinks that leaving might be a worthy solution… to which Mayr responds with a loud, resounding NOPE.
In a way, that element of their relationship is reflected in the overall song: it starts and ends with a soft and vulnerable feel, but along the way, things get harder, more insistent. With Soulbound, it’s the sound of Mayr’s fight coming in and Tash pushing back, trying to reason himself into winning the argument while practically throwing his heart on the floor. The power and conviction in the song’s bridge really cinches the tension in the struggle.
Dala — Butterfly to Wasp
This song caught my attention while watching the TV show, ReGenesis. I was simply gutted hearing it, so I used those feelings in Soulbound, during times when the characters were miserable. This was great for when one of the characters said things they shouldn’t have and the other one took it hard. Because relationships take work, and sometimes hurtful things get said, so feeling one’s way out of the dust as it settles… It’s not easy, and neither are the feelings in this song. The music and vocals are full of feeling and depth, though the lyrics could also be applied to Mayr and Tash’s previous relationships — mostly the romantic ones, though there’s always the matter of Tash’s chosen brothers… all of which are complicated. (I swear, it’s not really one of my books unless there’s angst somewhere.)
Secret Garden — Prayer
A major part of this book is the world-building, and considering Tash is a priest, it was inevitable that I’d dig into their customs, religion, and beliefs, as well as Tash’s life. This song helped me write those scenes, given its gentle tone and lovely harmonies. It just glides along, soft and airy, with harp, Uilleann pipes, and violin, giving it a sweet Celtic sound.
This song was perfect for Tash, who sees worship and devotion as comforting, soothing, and inspiring… and he definitely hijacked the playlist to make sure this song was on it. I kept playing it for his scenes, including when he had private moments with Arieve.
Secret Garden — Sleepsong
Again, another song Tash latched onto, given how sweet and gentle it is. Then again, it’s a lullaby: slow, soothing, and it glides along with a lovely waltz tempo. This song came in handy for whenever there was a spiritual component or a romantic element, particularly around Arieve. Her relationship with Mayr and Tash is so very soft and tender, giving them a chance to be content together. This song captured the sense that everything will be just fine. <3
With that, here ends this post! Thank you so much for reading. I love hearing from readers, so feel free to share your thoughts, including any songs you particularly love!