My writing has always leaned on music. Whether inspiration, mood, or energy to keep me going through the many hours of drafting and editing, it can be an important force and fuel for what I do. These tracks in particular were especially crucial, helping me build or refine a character, a scene, or a whole story arc.
TV on the Radio has always been a cerebral kind of band, their sound veering in and out of experimental territory. It’s always very resonant stuff, though. Particularly the stuff that either celebrates, frets, or freaks out about the mundane aspects of modern life. “Repetition,” in that respect, is the apotheosis. Both the lyrics and instrumental start at a calm and simple place, and end up growing increasingly frenzy as the motif gets louder and more frantic.
As I shaped the character of Derek, he always struck me as the sort of person that a lot of TVOTR songs are about (See Also: “Dancing Choose,” which is almost as good of a theme for Derek as “Repetition”, but not quite). He sleepwalks through most of his life, regrets slowly building in him, suppressed by a thick layer of denial. All of it eventually starts to become too much for him. The sameness, the boredom, the feeling that he’s taken a wrong track somewhere and suffocates at his rapidly disappearing future. Almost to the point of reaching a breaking point. Derek’s there, ready to break the cycle, ready to snap out of it and find a new life when we meet him in Prophet of Chaos.
Derek’s a graphic designer at a small, boutique firm in Washington, DC. How he ended up in the job, he can scarcely recall. He’s viewed as a wunderkind of sorts, able to scratch out eye-catching designs, logos, and pages that strike people. Judging by the way his firm’s clients seem to rake in the cash and business after Derek’s done his thing to help them promote their latest cloud-based solution, maybe they strike people a little more than they should . . . If only Derek cared about any of it. As the only person of color in his entire office, he feels alone and isolated by the way his coworkers act around him. He’s never fit in very much, and he’s not sure why.
He longs for the promise of his early art school days, before he decided to go for the safest bet to a comfortable career. As safe as art usually gets, anyway. The more he thinks about it, the more his own choices disappoint him. Ever since a particularly brutal run-in with the police he had when he was younger, one he was lucky to walk away from alive given the color of his skin, he’s been scared. Scared of sticking his neck out, scared of taking the risky path. He still longs for more, though. Longs for an end to the boredom and stale corporate life he shambles through during the week.
A chance encounter at an art gallery show changes things for Derek. He meets a beautiful woman, who seems far more than what she seems. The next thing he knows, a smooth-talking, Demon-worshipping Reverend and his gun-toting cultist minions are knocking down Derek’s door. They say he’s an Enchanter, and that he’s going to help them whether he wants to or not. That was the moment the Prophet, Nathaniel, entered his life. Whisking him away from his pursuers, Nathaniel seeks to keep him safe. Nathaniel knows, somehow, that if they get a hold of Derek some truly awful things will follow. Derek just wants to stay in one piece, and preferably avoid this whole kidnapping business. But is he really an enchanter? Does he really have powers? Nathaniel has some answers for him, but can Derek handle them? Derek’s beginning to realize that there’s something more to him than he ever knew, something that could change everything.