March 25th, 2015

Instrumental Architects: Music Recommendations by CA’s Clients

We love music at Creative Authors, so with that in mind I’m talking to a few CA authors and illustrators about what their current music recommendations are. Click through to listen and you never know you might discover a fantastic new artist to listen to!

isy a recent
I’m a mega music fan and with a husband, who works in the music industry, there’s always a record playing or Spotify is on. I’m going to list five tracks (in order to limit myself, this could very well turn into an essay otherwise!). In no particular order: ‘Fingerbobs ‘by Spooky – I played this to my husband the first time I met him. I’m a massive Robert Smith fan, so The Cure’s ‘Why Can’t I be You?’ ‘Killing Moon’ by Echo and the Bunnymen, Flock of Seagulls ‘I Ran,’ Talking Heads ‘This Must be the Place‘ – this song to me sums up my first year living in Manhattan.

Isabel Atherton is the director of Creative Authors

My creative journey in both writing and illustrating is often inspired by the sounds I’m listening to. Take the track Marram by Bibio for instance. For me, this has these wonderful aquatic qualities which influenced In The Deep Dark Deep at the time of creation.

While creating At Death’s Door, bizarrely, I was listening to a lot of soothing Hawaiian music. A total juxtaposition but it worked wonders. Certain sounds took me to a certain place – the beginnings of Sweet Leilani in particular felt both appealingly retro and cartoony but really eerie at the same time.

Other composers which continue to inspire include:

Joby Talbot (track – Suite from Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland: The Croquet Match), Klara Lewis (track – Seascape), Loscil (track – Steam), Jon Hopkins (track – Water), The Gaslamp Killer (track – After All) Tortoise (track -TNT) and Clint Mansel (track – Welcome to Lunar Industries)

Ben Joel Price – Ben Joel Price is the founder and creative director of Symetria Limited, an independent design and publishing house specialising in contemporary greetings cards and stationery. Ben’s latest book ‘Earth Space Moon Base (Random House Kids,) is out now. See here for his awesome book trailer:

The Space Lady’s Greatest Hits – a street performer in the hippy years in California who developed a shtick of performing her synthesizer and vocal duets while wearing a Viking helmet with a red light-bulb through it. She has a rich voice and hearing familiar tunes through the synthesizer lends a new vibe to each of them, sometimes sweet, sometimes eerie. Try “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

Run The Jewels 2 – two of America’s finest, Killer Mike and El-P, growing older, wiser and still with sufficient immaturity to love making an album that’s fun, incendiary, silly and serious all at once. Toss in a sex rap that doesn’t descend into the smutty boasting of 17 year olds, a wicked verse from Gangsta Boo, plus a guest appearance from Zack de la Rocha who only shows up on songs every five years…I’m sold. Try “Close Your Eyes (and Count to F***).”

Starfish “Run Around” from ‘No Seattle: Forgotten Sounds of the North West Grunge Era’ – I’m biased toward this record because I helped draw it together. This is a definite highlight for me. Ronna Myles-Era and Damon Romero, both formerly of Olympia-based bands, relocated to Texas and tore out an album of top-notch alternative rock. I love the moods and dynamics crammed into such a brief song.

Blood on Satan’s Claw – Trunk Records does a remarkable job unearthing old soundtracks and lost recordings of the past fifty years, an intelligent and methodical delving into the mysteries of TV music, films, jazz troupes…then they all head to the pub and pump out something like the recordings of the buffet car on a British Rail train service (I’m not kidding, I own it.) This is one of the records made to last longer than pub laughter. It’s part of that era where British music was busily combining the latest in electronic experimentation with traditional instruments to create an eerie pastoral vibe perfect for folk horror films.

Lil Wayne ‘Sorry for the Wait 2’ – A mixtape free on and a sign of where Lil Wayne is at. Plenty of songs show him trying to catch up with the freshest rappers, plenty of OK moments, energized voice for the first time in a while… Then I go pull out “A Milli” or “6 Foot 7 Foot” to remember when there wasn’t a rapper alive who sounded as good as Lil Wayne. Believe the hype; there really was a spell when the guy could rap over anything and sound engaging.

Atari Teenage Riot “Speed” – Techno-punk, Rave-rock, whatever it was…This is as good as the blending of heavy rock guitar and gun-splatter beats gets. It’s high-energy, relentless, po-faced in its seriousness but you’ll be having so much fun po-go’ing that you just won’t care. It’s a song made for the nights when you know you’ll wake up with a body that feels smashed and a brain that can’t quite get out of bed…And you just don’t care. Tear it up!

Scott Walker + Sunn O))) ‘Soused’ – An entire album wedding Scott’s out-there urges to Sunn O)))’s billowingly heavy guitar pound, it’s great! Sometimes its like a thousand helicopters taking off in a small room, at other times it’s like there’s only one voice in an empty world. The whip cracks and ambience underscores Scott’s poetic tales. Consume the whole thing at one gulp.

Nick Soulsby’s latest book:  “I Found My Friends: the Oral History of Nirvana” is out March 31st.

Since having my son in November, music has been an even more precious commodity, something I listen to less frequently so I am therefore more discerning. I also listen to a lot more radio when he is awake, to get him prepared for a long and boring future of me lecturing him about music!

I can separate what I’m listening to depending on the time of day and what my son and I are doing:

Drawing while my son naps: I tend to stick on a Spotify playlist I made when I was pregnant so I can be quick and get down to my work in those precious moments when my son sleeps! Songs like Goshen ’97 by Strand of Oaks is fast paced and gets me motivated. If I’m really focusing on the detail though I slow the music down and go for something like Small Fires’ by Karate.

Cooking while my son watches: I love nostalgic music when I cook so that I can daydream a bit. The Decemberists ‘Make You Better’ reminds me of a different time, and Blur releasing Go Out’ earlier this year takes me back to all their past work.

Dancing with my son: Some doo wop from the 50s and 60s makes my son laugh when I dance with him to it. Why Do Fools Fall in Love’ by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers is a good example. Bands like Haim are also upbeat enough to dance with him to.

Singing to my son: Don’t wait’, by Mapei is a song I rock him to and I sing the chorus to him. I sing anything by Lauryn Hill to him as a default!

Baby’s bedtime: We all pretend we are at the spa when it’s time for bed. Quiet, flutey music that soothes him and gets him sleepy.

Unwinding in the bath: My absolute favourite track to relax to is Orange Moon by Erykah Badu. Listening to the crickets chirruping on the track makes me think about being somewhere exotic, and the gentle, lazy beat makes me sleepy and happy – not to mention her beautiful, Billie Holiday style vocal. Another song in a similar vein that makes you squint your eyes and wrinkle your nose in pleasure is In Need’ by Ntjam Rosie.

Bethany Straker is an illustrator and author of picture books and magazines. Her work often leans towards the humorous, and has been described as “somewhere between the stylings of a Steve Fiorilla and a Mike Judge series” ( She enjoys the little visual details that others may not notice, loves drawing the grotesque and champions the underdog. You can see more about Beth and her work here:

The soundtrack to my writing life ranges far and wide, but for the moment the lo-fi sounds of Missouri’s own Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin are in heavy rotation in my writing space. I’m especially taken by their 2005 album Broom. At times, their lyrics wander into dangerously precious territory. I’m thinking in particular of “Pangea,” the opening number with the playful reference to “Pangea, we used to be together. / Why’d we have to drift apart?” Yet in other moments–in songs like “I Am Warm & Powerful” and “House Fire” —the band reaches penetrating emotional heights as they consider the inexorable sadness at the heart of even the most well-lived of lives.

Kenneth Womack has published four books devoted to the Beatles, including Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles and The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. He is currently preparing a biography of George Martin, the Beatles’ legendary producer, to be entitled The Fifth Fab: Recording the Beatles with Sir George Martin. You can learn more about Ken’s work at

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by Isabel Atherton


“As one of the great professionals in our industry, Isabel is a full-service agent who provides top-notch mentorship and guidance with each new project. Indeed, she is the kind of agent and coach who challenges her writers to aim ever higher as they pursue their craft.”

Kenneth Womack, Creative Authors Client