Category Archives: Jam of the Week

Jam of the Week: “Birthday Cake”, by Stephen Walking

I don’t know how you feel about electronic music in general, it seems like people with opinions on it either love it or hate it. I’m in the former camp, I’ve been a fan of most of the sub genres for years now, but I’ve been listening to a lot of electro, house, and dubstep lately. This is how I discovered Stephen Walking.

Stephen Walking covers a number of sub-genres, but “Birthday Cake,” my favorite track by him so far, is electro. I listen to a lot of electronic music when I’m reading or writing for a couple of reasons. The general lack of vocals tends to be less distracting than lyrical songs, which is really useful. In a similar vein, since electronic music is primarily written for clubs, it tends to favor rhythm over melody, and good electronic music (especially trance) tends to remove the listener from the rest of the world. It’s probably best listened to through headphones.

“Birthday Cake” does these things well, but it’s also got just a ton of energy, this song gets me pumped up. Having the energy to write (or read, there’s a lot of that in graduate school!) is as important as having the motivation to do so. I find that music can keep me writing or distract me, and “Birthday Cake” tends to do the former.

If it helps, I also tend to listen to electronic music when I’m thinking about or working on science fiction. Something about electro and the like feel futuristic to me, and I doubt that I’m the only who feels that way.

Jam of the Week: “War”, by Poets of the Fall

If you’re like me, then you have a hard time functioning without music. I especially find that I pretty much can’t write without it, whether I’m looking (listening?) for inspiration, or just want something playing in the background. I find different artists and different genres useful for different reasons. Sometimes songs just make me think about writing in a different light.

Finnish rock band Poets of the Fall aree pretty inspirational, especially this Jam of the Week. “War” is from their fourth album, Twilight Theater, which the band has described as “cinematic rock.” I don’t exactly know what that means, but it seems like a pretty good description. The song is epic; it’s moody, and spooky, and kind of uplifting. It feels like watching a film.

The video is dark, both literally and figuratively, and the narrative is focused on loss and confusion, but there’s a sense of longing and desire too. It puts me in the mood for shows like Twin Peaks, or games like Alan Wake (in which the song is featured, and is where I first heard it), stories with dreamlike, and often nightmarish, qualities.

For all of that though, I still find it uplifting (especially the beginning of the chorus); like the story might still have a happy ending, it’s just going to take a lot of work on the part of the protagonist. Not a bad metaphor, especially for the writing process. Sometimes writing is an uphill battle, but it will still come out okay in the end. And just like the narrator in the song, sometimes you have to remember that you’re not always in it alone, and there are people who can help you with that process, like us here at The Writing Center.