Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Zig Zag Claybourne's near-infinite playlist

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2020 at 1:01 AM

click to enlarge OBSIDIAN SKY BOOKS
  • Obsidian Sky Books
Editor's note: This week's cover story is about speculative fiction author Zig Zag Claybourne, whose new book Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe comes with a suggested soundtrack. We asked Claybourne to walk us through the tracks.

Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe couldn’t come out of Detroit without music as part of its story.

The soundtrack is meant to uplift. It’s funky meditation. Characters mention several of the songs in the book to set moods or crack jokes. Some of the selections are there for worldbuilding (an Atlantis where musicians know the guitar riff from "Computer Blue" is a cool place to be).

I started with "The Unexpected" by Liv Warfield for the wonder of unexpected joys, not only joy in the book but in life; immediately moved to "Maggot Brain" by Funkadelic, which is cosmic truth in guitar form, and since Afro Puffs is essentially a power ballad to women around the world, there are several straight-up boot-to-the-ass-of-men jams as punctuation marks. When it came to Wendy & Lisa — two of music’s badass best — I had to swap "Waterfall" for "Why Wait For Heaven" because Spotify dropped the latter, but the two songs share the same soul.

It's an epic sci-fi story, so the soundtrack had to include something from the Mothership. The energy between the book’s purple covers reflects a definite '80s overdrive, so several blasts of the one and only Prince seemed right.

I came of age in the '80s, where there was a wild zeal for experimentation and boundary-pushing, I needed '80s classics: Grace Jones, Bowie, Idol, The Cure.

This book is political AF. For the faux allies who stab people in the back at the first imagined slight: "About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All."

Ultimately, I wanted people to hear something in these 25 jams that removed the weight of the day and moved them. It’s the sort of mix you play with a full tank of gas, an open road, and a mission in mind.

Zig Zag Claybourne’s Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe is out now from Obsidian Sky Books and available locally at Source Book Sellers, 4240 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-832-1155;

You can read our cover story about Claybourne in this week's issue of
Metro Times.

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