Amanda Ross

Amanda Ross

Black speculative fiction author and campy fantasy heaux.

13 Musical Artists You Should Know

Music is the great salve for all your writing woes – it can help you get over writer’s block, set the tone for your writing session, and get the creative juices flowing. I know your playlists are probably sacrosanct, but if you’re looking for a little more power, check out these thirteen artists below.


Tank and The Bangas – this soul group lead by Tarriona “Tank” Ball, Tank and The Bangas are a New Orleans band that blew up after winning the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk concert. Their music is an eclectic mix of slam poetry, neo-soul, and chill beach vibes. When writing early aughts comedy, pieces with political activism, and YA drama, listen to Tank and The Bangas. Suggested Songs: Self Care, To Be Real, Spaceships, and Ants. 


Nightwish – this Finnish symphonic metal band paved the way for Epica and Within Temptation. But there’s something special about Nightwish, and part of that is their ability to keep churning out fantastic tunes after 20 years. For epic world-building, cyberpunk, or magical realism check them out. Suggested songs: Gethsemane, Ghost Love Score, Shudder Before the Beautiful, and The Greatest Show on Earth.


Glass Animals – originally from Oxford, Glass Animals has a sound so unique I can only classify it as psychedelic indie with hip hop influences. Their smooth tone is easy to get lost in, which is why their music aids with focus. When your writing modern romance, unreliable narrators, and pithy dialogue, tune in to Glass Animals. Suggested songs: Dreamland, Heatwaves, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, and Gooey.


Flo Milli – though she’s only 20, Flo Milli raps with the expertise and agency of an MC twice her age. She’s got a unique style that makes her stand out from the crowd, and her flows are empowering. When writing female-led capers, YA set in the big city, or satire Flo Milli is your girl. Suggested songs: May I, Not Friendly, In The Party, and Mean. 


Trevor Something – don’t hate on synth-wave, especially since it’s making a comeback. Trevor Something is an anonymous musician who makes dazzling synth songs with catchy lyrics about love, sex, and summer. If you’re working on sci-fi, YA, or an 80’s period piece, Trevor Something is your man. Suggested songs: Fade Away, Summer Lover, All Night, Your Sex is a Dream, and Enjoy the Silence.


Childish Gambino – if you’ve watched the shows Community or Atlanta, then you know who Donald Glover is. He’s a brilliant writer both behind the screen and behind the mic, so his music is wonderful to soak up during your creative endeavors. If you’re writing YA, intense family drama, and humorous heroes, check out Childish Gambino. Suggested songs: 3005, Freaks and Geeks, Outside, Redbone, and This Is America.


Jidenna – if you’re a fan of Janelle Monáe, then you know her production label, Wondaland. Jidenna is one of many great artists on it, and for good reason. His style is eclectic, and he always cuts a dapper figure in a full-on suit. For writing diverse characters, settings in bustling metropolis’, or romance, Jidenna is your man. Suggested songs: Classic Man, Long Live the Chief, Bambi, Boomerang, and Little Bit More.


Empire of the Sun – this Australian duo has been making music for ten years. Their rich electropop sound is just as dazzling as their costumes. With three albums worth of music to get lost in, their music is best for writing fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and magical realism. Suggested songs: Walking on a dream, DNA, We Are the People, On The Way Home, and There’s No Need.


Jamiroquai – this British funk band was big in the 90s, and they’ve had a steady following ever since. Perhaps their most notable hit, Virtual Insanity, was released in 1996 and is that iconic video of a guy with a big velvet hat and a shifting room. When writing about dancing, 90s nostalgia, and witty detectives, take a trip with Jamiroquai. Suggested songs: Virtual Insanity, Cosmic Girl, Canned Heat, Space Cowboy, and Cloud 9.


Air – this French duo is responsible for the soundtrack of Virgin Suicides and contributed the song “Sexy Boy” to everyone’s favorite teen drama, 10 Things I Hate About You. They have a very eclectic sound, which will go well with magical realism, fantasy, and romance. Suggested songs: Sexy Boy, Highschool Lover, Ce Matin La, Kelly Watch the Stars, and Le Femme d’argent.


2Cellos – this Slovenian/Croatian duo has toured with Elton John, toured the world, and established themselves as a musical force. Their cover of Smooth Criminal is what helped gain them recognition, but their talent and harmony with each other has made them a fan favorite. This music is so perfect for writing just about anything, including romantic interludes, dystopian realities, and psychological thrillers. Suggested songs: Orient Express, Thunderstruck, Celloverse, Moon River, and Resistance.


Ólafur Arnalds – for those looking for something epic, look no further than Ólafur Arnalds. Each song this Icelander creates is beautiful and perfect for those moments of catharsis. For any emotional powerhouse scene, tragic love story, or slow-burning horror, check Ólafur out. Suggested songs: 3055, Reminiscence, For Now I Am Winter, Reminiscence, and Doria.


Anderson .Paak – if you’re in the mood for neo-soul, look no further than Anderson .Paak. His raspy voice and soulful beats feel like a throwback, and the gritty subject matter of his songs makes it all the more binge-able. Anderson .Paak’s music is perfect for writing Southern noir family dramas, 70’s period pieces, and suburban horror. Suggested songs: Brother’s Keeper, Tints, Make It Better, and Lockdown.


Who’s your favorite artist to write to? Let me know in the comments below!

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