Hypnotica: A Short Story Discography

“The Yoshira is a dream city, and there are breeds of magicians here that only exist between sunset and sunrise. The most famous ones, the ones only the Yoshira can make, are the dreamwrights, who play their music for the ghosts and the dreamers, carrying their tools in their bones…”

Almost a year since the first draft was completed, my short story “Hypnotica” is going to be serialized on The Fantasy Hive! It’s one of my crazier, fantastic story, and I’m glad I finally get to share it. Here’s the description:

“Hypnotica” revolves around dreamwrights, mages who use music to shape dreams into surreal raves, and the Yoshira, a ghost-city that exists at the boundaries of waking and sleeping. In “Hypnotica,” two dreamwrights are left picking up the pieces of their lives after one of their shows in the Yoshira turns into a nightmare.

The two main characters, GRIN and NO-FOOT, were based off of different electronic artists, while the Yoshira was based on the Yoshiwara, the famous pleasure district in Japan. I wanted an image that conveyed the wonder, mystery, and danger of the story (as well as incorporate triangles), so one of the editors at the Hive, A.Z. Anthony, created this:

hypnotica chris mahon fantasy hive

Since the story is so heavily rooted in music, I’ve made a list of the songs that inspired it to celebrate!

1. Daft Punk, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”

As I said in my previous post, the idea of the story originally came from the Alive 2007 concert and the 2014 Rolling Stone interview with Daft Punk, the masked electronica artists whose crazy, elaborate light shows turned concerts into dream-like, surround-sound experiences. This was one of my favorite songs in the Alive 2007 set, showing the two of them rocking out atop their pyramid.

2. Aphex Twin, “Come to Daddy”

Aphex Twin was the inspiration for GRIN, the virtuoso composer partner to NO-FOOT. In the story, GRIN wears something akin to a hannya mask, which mimics Aphex’s famously creepy grin. “Come to Daddy” is one of the songs I have on constant repeat, and the signature scream at 2:36 became the inspiration for a key moment in the story.

3. Deadmau5, “I Remember”

When I needed calming, lullaby-like songs while writing, “I Remember” kept coming up. It lulls me into a trance, and its echoes and synthesizers brought to mind pictures of the dreamscapes and slow-motion dances in the Yoshira.

4. Black Midi, “Pi”

At one point in the story, GRIN composes something called a “death waltz,” a piece of music that’s so complicated it’s considered physically impossible to actually play. The original inspiration was a piece of music called “Fairie’s Aire and Death Waltz,” but the Black Midi series helped me visualize what it would sound like.

5. Me!Me!Me!

Besides being one of the most disturbing, sexually charged videos I’ve ever seen, the song is an ultra-catchy mix of something like Vocaloid singing, J-Pop, hardcore EDM, and glitch music. I wanted to capture the energy, vividness, and pure insanity of it all in the dream sequences of the story, especially the final one.

6. Knife Party, “UKF Birthday Set”

Besides Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 show, the  UKF set Knife Party played a few years ago became one of the main soundtracks I listened to while I was sketching out the mechanics of narcomancy and trying to visualize what NO-FOOT and GRIN’s shows would look and sound like.

7. Cowboy Bebop, “Blue”

I wanted the story to be a bit melancholy, something that touched on both the freedom of dreams and the knowledge that you have to wake up and leave it all behind. At heart, though, this song is about transcendence, and as I went through seven drafts, I found that transcendence was at the heart of the story, too.

8. Paprika Soundtrack, “Parade”

Anyone who’s seen Paprika remembers the insane parade scene. This song seemed to sum up the chaos, madness and bursting imagination of the Yoshiwara.

Hypnotica: A Short Story Discography