I’m one of those writers who incorporates music as an integral part of my writing process. (Actually, music is just an integral part of my life.) I’ll sometimes orchestrate scenes to particular tunes; I use different tracks to evoke the appropriate mood.
And sometimes, music doesn’t speak so much to the plot as it addresses a character. Ty Metzler, the MC of Hook, Line & Sinker, is very much one of those characters.
What’s Your Sign?
One of the conceits of the Flirting with the Zodiac series is that it focuses on a different (animal) shifter for each sign of the zodiac. Hook, Line & Sinker is—you guessed it—Pisces, the fish.
In the series, the connection to the sign is usually quite literal. Ty, for example, is part seahorse shifter. He’s quite literally a fish alien, from a planet called Piscea.
Yet Ty is also a Pisces in the astrological sense—he was born March 8, under the sign of the fish.
Many people would probably say Ty isn’t exactly your typical Pisces. While profiles for this sign usually include traits like enormous empathy and friendliness, Ty is very much an aggressive, angry, introvert.
Still, he does exhibit some traits of a Pisces. He’s musically inclined, and Pisces is often associated with creative pursuits. People born under this sign are supposed to prefer to be a bit detached from the real world, which can sometimes be overwhelming—partially because of how emotional this sign is supposed to be. They can channel that energy into creative pursuits, which also function as a grounding mechanism.
Pisces might also be a bit shy or even introverted. Ty’s a bit of an outlier here; he’s not terribly enthused about other people or even helping them.
Still, we can see Ty as ultimately a very emotional character. Ty experiences some of his emotions so intensely he shuts down. He’s an insomniac, a bit paranoid, and almost always anxious.
That leads us to another of Ty’s most predominant features: he’s a stoner. He uses cannabis to self-medicate—but we can also see this as a desire to escape reality. Most people associate getting high with letting go of “reality,” retreating into a “haze”—something that fits Pisces pretty well.
It’s this combination—of Ty as someone trying to cope with mental health issues, as a Pisces, and as a stoner—that led to the selection of songs for the playlist.
Ultimately, Ty is the main character of Hook, Line & Sinker. We’re only treated to his point of view, which means we spend a lot of time “in his head.” The right music was key to making sure I had a handle on that particular viewpoint throughout the novel. The playlist reflects Ty, almost through and through.
If Ty Had an Anthem
The AstroPoets picked “High by the Beach” as Pisces’s Lana Del Rey theme. Since I was already working on the Flirting with the Zodiac books, I was looking for musical inspiration. I took their suggestion that this track was 100% Pisces and queued it up for a listen.
Well, they’re not wrong. This track—and my preferred version of it, the Viduta remix—is absolutely something that would resonate with Ty. The overly dramatic lyrics—“We won’t survive”—and the suggestion the singer never bought into “bullshit” are so reminiscent of Ty. The fact that all Lana wants to do is get high by the beach is just sort of the cherry on top.
Ty Loves Ska and Reggae
It was a while later I remembered “Smoke Two Joints,” which gave me a good laugh. That entire song is something that feels very, very fitting for Ty—particularly the part where the singer informs us he smokes two joints, before he smokes two joints. Then he smokes two more, just for good measure.
I was familiar with Sublime’s cover of this track (which shows up later on the playlist). Amazingly, I hadn’t already digitized my copy of their greatest hits album. That led me to dig out some of my old CDs (yeah, I was a ‘90s kid).
I also ran across “Santeria,” which is possibly the most quintessentially Ty thing I’ve heard in a while. We have a very calm, relaxing tune with fairly relaxed vocals, delivering lines about how the singer is going to fuck up some guy who ran off with his girl.
Ty probably doesn’t care much about the girl, if we’re honest, but he’s definitely ready to fight someone. His anxiety often manifests as aggression.
Obviously, “Bad Fish” had to be added as well, if only for the name.
My only real exposure to anything remotely ska came when I was a kid: my dad got a copy of the massively popular Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt. I loved that album—and I still do. “Spiderwebs” felt like a pretty good fit for Ty.
I’d be a bit remiss not to mention another genre normally associated with Caribbean rhythms and cannabis usage: reggae. While Ty probably has a collection that includes the legendary Bob Marley, the two tracks that felt most fitting for Hook, Line & Sinker are actually by Toronto-based Magic!, whose style is best described as reggae fusion. It’s a little bit of pop, a little bit of rock, but you can still hear the influence. “Rude” seems to summarize some of the book’s major plot points (and I’m partial to the Zedd remix), and “Lay You Down Easy” is a great pick for some of the higher heat scenes.
Some Old Skool Rap and R&B
In one scene in Hook, Line & Sinker, Ty mentions that he’d “rap along” to some of the friend group’s favorite tracks, so you knew some rap was going to end up on this playlist.
Nelly’s “Ride wit Me” is a classic now, but I remember when it first hit the airwaves.—but now I can see it would fit with Ty’s repertoire.
Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” is another of those throwback tracks that everyone knows. While the “speciesism” theme that was prominent in early drafts of Hook, Line & Sinker was dialed back in the final version, this is a track that would probably still resonate with Ty.
You can’t talk about old school rap without Biggie (or TuPac, really), so the Notorious B.I.G.’S eponymous track felt like a good addition to the list.
“Purple Pills” by Eminem-led D12 might seem like an odd choice, but again, it seemed to fit with Ty’s musical tastes—and his stoner/would-be bad boy aesthetic.
A Dash of Punk and Rock
Green Day’s “Basket Case” is another track that’s perfectly fitting for Ty. The singer gives himself the creeps; he thinks he’s cracking up. Then he asks if he’s just paranoid—or stoned. Both are perfectly valid options for Ty.
Another track that represents Ty fairly well is Weezer’s “Hash Pipe.” It’s a fairly aggressive sounding riff, and the singer seems like he’s going to fight someone—he repeatedly invites someone to kick him.
Further out in left field, I’ve added “Fire Eye’d Boy” by Canadian indie band Broken Social Scene. This is one of their older tracks, but I love the smooth melody and rhythm. The lyrics are fitting, in some ways—Ty actually has red eyes. The lyrics also suggest the singer might be “drifting off,” and that the “fire eye’d boy” gets his ass kicked—possibly in a fight.
A Touch of Pop
The final three tracks take us back to pop and electronica. I actually thought Charli XCX’s “Warm” might be fitting for another sign, but the lyrics are very fitting for Ty and Lawrence’s story. That’s also true of “Casual” by Alex Adair, which describes two friends who decide to be friends with benefits—but quickly find that they both want to be much more. (Hey, Hook, Line & Sinker is friends to lovers.)
A track by Finnish artist Alma rounds out the selections: “Chasing Highs” seems very fitting for Ty—and perhaps describes the trajectory of Ty’s relationship with Lawrence too.