Where does something like “Perduto” come from?
It wasn’t where I started that is for sure!
To get to that I had to write an award-winning young adult coming of age novel (Someone’s Story) and accompany that with four folk songs. Then I pivoted to writing a dystopian sci-fi horror series with an entire album of electronic music.
Five years. Two books. Eleven songs… and that is just the first two-thirds done. Soon it will be seven years, three books, and fifteen songs!
It’s weird to stop and think of it like that. Every single time I get to work I try to compartmentalize and focus on the deliverables I need to progress over the next few weeks to keep the project on track. There is a bigger plan but I always focus on a few small tasks. Each small win stacks on top of the last win and they start to pile up. Write a chapter. Fix a chapter. Write a song. Hire a musician partner. Create a music video. Hire an artist. Each task builds on everything before it and as you keep chaining the small victories together, progress comes.
When I write, I bring musician characters into my story. I love music and I was always mesmerized by musicians. I created these musician characters as a way of living out a dream. I can’t believe how far that simple idea has taken me.
There is a specific reason I like to make music. It helps me tap into emotion and pacing. I become characters and use the music to feel and move them. That is the place I write the songs from and it becomes this strange art inspiring art thing as I don’t know which thing is more important. The songs and the books can’t be separated. They are part of the same project and are meant to be consumed together. I hope that after someone has read the book, they can watch one of the music videos and remember a few moments from the novel. If the music has captured the energy and emotion I put into the pages, then I feel I have done my job.
Before we can get to “Perduto” we have to start smaller though. Let’s look at the origins a bit.
I have been working over 20 hours per week on music and books since 2017. The moment I wrapped up my first novel, I started writing my second. The moment the last folk song finished, I started my first electronic song. As soon as the second novel was done, I moved to the third. My skills keep growing and music is a part of my growth strategy. I think many authors would benefit from creating music. It teaches tempo and scale while forcing you to be cohesive and marketable. With a novel, you get thousands of words to tell your story. With a song you only get a few words. Learning how to tell stories in a few words improves me as a writer because I can simplify moments while editing my novel to get to the point and move the story along in a way similar to writing a song.
With Pulse, I created a DJ character. I thought it would be the coolest thing to try and make a song as this character. I connected with a real-life DJ and electronic music producer in Australia named Skrybe. We started creating a song that I already had in the first draft of my manuscript. It was named “Limitless”. We went back and forth for months and Skrybe brought this crazy big sound to the table that sounded just like the kind of electronic music you would hear at an EDM festival. Think Skrillex, Adventure Club, or Daft Punk. I didn’t know how far we would go. When “Limitless” wrapped, it was the only song on the pages of the novel at the time. I felt there was more music to be made though. Something inside me said don’t stop now.
I kept tinkering on the manuscript for Pulse and started working with Skrybe on another track. This tense cinematic instrumental captured the energy I wrote with and I felt it was the perfect teaser for the project sound so I named it “Pulse” and released it almost immediately, keeping “Limitless” in my back pocket.
Then, something unexpected happened…
This was all going on during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canada Council for the Arts put out a request for digital art and I was lucky enough to be awarded a grant. Everything I had done so far was just lyric videos and music visualizers. With that grant, I started with a more challenging plan. I wanted to try and animate my festival.
I found an amazing pixel artist out of Italy named Andrea Putortì. He is one of the best in the world. We took inspiration from the music video for the song “White Flag” by Delta Heavy and we started going back and forth on how we could bring the festival in my novel to life with a retro Nintendo vibe.
The video for “Limitless” took about eight months to make. I created some smaller music videos at the same time and kept revising the manuscript for Pulse. These were all great #stayhomestaysafe projects.
Right at the finish line for “Limitless”, I brought in a talented video editor. He hyper-stylized everything Andrea had done, bringing the animation and effects to the tempo of the song. There are not that many pixel art music videos out there, and I am so proud of the tiny team that pulled this off!
I wasn’t done though. While working with Skrybe I was also working with another music producer and we created the track “Requiem” which I had again been sitting on for months. Now that I had a big video for “Limitless” I had to keep the ball rolling and do something big again. I turned my sights to an Anime Music Video. I found a great video editor and we brainstormed potential projects to watch. After about thirty hours of anime, I had given him a rough idea. He then added the tension and energetic cuts. The final video for “Requiem” is a very special watch indeed!
Lucky for me, I had a little bit of grant money left over before I submitted “Limitless,” so I used the last of it to book a vocalist for a special project I had dubbed “Perduto.” That vocalist is fellow Canadian Armenia Sarkissian. One of her many talents is she is a classically trained opera singer. She and I took my author message in Pulse and translated it into Italian. She then recorded operatic Italian vocals that have serious Lord of the Rings soundtrack vibes all over them. Skrybe and I went back and forth to bring the Pulse sound. The final result is ethereal and awe-inspiring!
As a final tweak to Pulse, I added “Perduto” to the pages just before publishing. What a project! So many countries. So many partners. So much time. All during a pandemic. I felt like I was missing one piece though…
To bring everything full circle, I even wrote another song more like my folk songs from the first novel. A dark grungy alternative rock track titled “Monster” and evoking feelings of “Something in the Way” by Nirvana or “Nutshell” by Alice in Chains. “Monster” captures my feelings as I put the finishing edits on the novel and editing Pulse was a massive challenge that turned me into a monster…
I am so proud of the music and videos. They stand on their own while also giving readers something that elevates the project to a blend of mediums few creatives are achieving.There are no songs without the books, but the books are weaker if I don’t make the songs. I don’t plan on stopping any time soon and have more songs coming for the Pulse sequel, and I think we have again leveled up which is saying something coming off “Limitless”, “Requiem”, and “Perduto”. A dream of mine was to cover “Crawling” and I finally got to do it. So proud of the team on that one and it is backed by a proper mechanical license. I had never done a proper mass-market cover song and learning how to do it legally was neat. I think we managed to pull off a dark dystopian version of “Crawling” that is haunting and chilling. That one is coming very soon so stay tuned!
If you want to check out the music, here is a playlist of all my songs and each one has a unique video:
About the Author
Bryan “B.A.” Bellec’s debut novel, Someone’s Story, won the Reader Views Reviewer’s Choice Literary Award for Young Adult Book of the Year. Someone’s Story is a coming-of-age novel about teen mental health. One of the aspects that makes Bellec’s projects unique is he includes musicians in his novels and then he actually produces the songs as his book goes through the editing stages. You can find that music on his YouTube channel. His second novel, Pulse, was released in 2021 and has been receiving strong reviews. That novel is a genre flip with dark dystopian sci-fi horror peppering the pages. Pulse is the start of a new fictional universe Bellec will write in for years to come!
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