For both Connor and myself, Osaka's urban cool revealed itself through the horn of Miles Davis. Researching Enso in the year to come [for I had no idea that I was to someday write Enso while sitting in Japan], jazz became a staple in my writing diet. It has remained so to this day.
"Connor resisted dipping another morsel and instead took a sip from the cold beer he'd ordered and waited. BOOM! Miles broke out from the rest of the melody with his signature, “Hi, I'm Miles Davis, F… You,” note and the room visibly lit up. Each piece of beautiful aggression in this cut seemed to mirror the cool, ageless urgency which Connor could already sense existed in Japanese culture."
*Amusing side note: By the writing of my second novel, even I sensed the cliché of using Miles and not some lesser-known musician in this scene. While my second novel is not connected to my first, the rebuke of one character's championing of Miles very much stems from my growing appreciation of other artists.
When it was me in Osaka, in Tower Records, looking for some music that I couldn't yet buy in Korea, this was the song I heard when I "took a set of headphones from one of the hooks [and] rescued the forever-youngness of new music from the clutches of Captain Hook." So it was for me, so it became for my protagonist. No, my painfully-lame head bobbing was not interrupted by a vision of classic perfection, but hey, that's why I write the stories. Connor, this one is for you, and for all of us who long to never forget that very moment when something far different walked into the room, right past us and right past us again before finally staying around for a dance or two.
Quite simply, "Voyager" was the song Enso was written to. I purchased the CD from which this song comes while in Osaka in 2006. Though this trip inspired much of what would become my first novel, I had no idea at the time that a story was even forthcoming. The funny thing is that this was simply a CD released by a popular Japanese band shortly before my vacation... talk about fate.
The song itself appears twice on the album. This shorter, acoustic version spoke to me immediately. Somewhere between the simplicity of the guitar and passion of the vocal, I found a tone which I really think resonates throughout Enso - especially whenever Maruko is present.
*Amusing side note: I actually have no idea what this song means - not more than two or three words of it. Somehow this only added to the process for I longed to write my own words to what I was listening to.
This song is one of two tracks by Japanese DJ Susumu Yokota that were used (and referenced) in the scene in Club Smoke. I happened upon this album on accident, on a short vacation to the States shortly after Enso had started to take shape. Knowing I needed to flesh out experiences which I had not had in Osaka (I never went dancing while there), I went to a used record store on the Cal Berkeley campus and simply started looking for something both techno and Japanese. What I found shaped my story in its mixing of new and old and in its artistic way of not being so accessible the first time.
"Violins soared into a mix of beats and rolling drums which then came crashing onto themselves; if it hadn't been for the need to move, Connor never would have again." - Enso
While it is tempting to note elements of self-repair throughout Enso, this song actually makes a very specific appearance and influenced the crafting of my book immeasurably. Parts of Asia (both Japan and Korea, where most of the story was written) feature breathtaking moments of transition - contrasts and pivots between past and present, between reality and promise. One such moment is captured in this song - specifically between 2:26 and 2:53 - and inspired a scene where what was developing between Connor and Maruko changed as well.
"Suddenly, as they crossed a street and turned the corner, the city exploded vertically. The neon made a canopy that made it both stars and ceiling, both endless and finite. Tall buildings with shops and restaurants which allowed those inside a front row seat for this maze lined the walkways on either side." - Enso
Music has always been a large part of my process. I tend to write certain scenes with certain songs on constant repeat. Here are a few of the songs I drew inspiration from while writing Enso.