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Music For Champions

babylon sistersAfter being so severe about historical accuracy on Monday, I figured I better lighten up today, and speak about something more upbeat… Wait, sorry, that’s dangerously close to being a pun (upbeat –– about music). I am ashamed of myself.

Constructing the alternate world of Champions has been an interesting exercise. From equipment to politics to fashion, Alex and Stephanie’s times must look and feel different than the 1940s we know –– and for good reason: humans have been colonizing another planet since 1881, and they have the alien allies, new technologies, and social evolutions to prove it.

But what about the music? Despite my complete dearth of musical ability, I’ve always enjoyed certain aspects of music and films from 1930s and 1940s –– the songs of Irving Berlin as performed by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, for example. Considering how much else about the world of Champions is ahead of its time, though, wouldn’t the radio of the day be a bit more… modern?

I like to think so, and I’ve been hunting for music that invokes the period but has a more advanced feel. There are a number of fairly well-known examples. We have new-era crooners like Michael Bublé, and as always seems the case, dance music has found a way to make classic jazz more ‘club-appropriate’ (see Parov Stelar – Catgroove). But what about that most beloved group from the real 1940s, The Andrews Sisters? The last Andrews sister passed away just recently, but I’m sure their music will always invoke that decade. Who could possibly put a modern spin on such an iconic sound?

Well, the Irish. Obviously.

There’s a very interesting new group in Ireland called the Babylon Sisters. Classically-trained soloists with plenty of experience singing for shows like Riverdance and Celtic Woman, they’re experimenting with a more modern approach to the three-female-vocalist pop lineup. And they’re not restricting themselves to music from the 1940s… or to any kind of music at all, actually. In just their first few months, they’ve covered everything from Metallica to the Foo Fighters to Michael Jackson. Here’s their take on Van Morrison:

It’s all very experimental –– and quite cool. For someone trying to imagine how an iconic 1940s sound might evolve in an alternate timeline, it’s also great inspiration. While I can never effectively incorporate music into prose (“Parting Glass” being the possible exception, though that was because Bort mistook it for a poem), it helps to find different sounds to set the tone for drafting. The potential influence is subtle, and purely subjective, but quite real.

So if you’re trying to get the feel of a new world –– past, present or future –– take the time to find the right music, and anything else that might inform your understanding of the environment. As Jacqui has pointed out, exploring the online creative community is always enlightening, and you might end up connecting with all manner of interesting people.

And if you find new inspirations –– or even become someone else’s inspiration –– all the better.