When BLACK CANARY by Brenden Fletcher and Annie Wu launched in June of 2015, music was baked into the fabric of the comic. Dinah Lance finds herself fronting a band. The team mixed Black Canary”s martial prowess and black leather aesthetics with punk rock sounds. But one of the drawbacks of a visual medium is the lack of audio. Fletcher could write amazing lyrics and Wu could creatively make them pop on the page, but it was up to readers to imagine the riffs and melodies.
DC Comics has brought the sounds of Black Canary to life with three singles to form the EP Kicking and Screaming. I spoke to Brenden Fletcher over the phone about how this project came to life, and who is behind the music of this amazing new sound.
HITFIX HARPY: Congrats on your Black Canary EP!
BRENDAN FLETCHER: Thanks! It's been a long time coming.
Exactly how long of a time?
FLETCHER: It was part of the original concept for the series. We weren't able to launch the series with the music, so we decided to get the music out there as part of the promotion for BLACK CANARY VOLUME ONE – KICKING AND SCREAMING (On sale now). I think it's amazing because the story really comes to life in the collected and the music really helps complete the world. It's so funny. This is something I had talked about in the gestation of the project; the actual sound of the band completing part of the narrative. But that was to me a conceptual thing until we actually started making the music. Being involved in the creation of the music helped me understand the world I was writing. And now I'm seeing as people listen to the music? I'm getting messages saying “Oh I get the comic now! I wasn't sure how super heroics and music gelled together but now that I'm hearing it? I just bought the album, now I'm going to buy the book.” It's very gratifying, everything I hoped for
You have a history in the music industry, right?
FLETCHER: It was my old job! Before I was a full-time comic book writer I was a full-time performer. I spent 15 years on stage and in front of cameras. I've been on tour with bands. I've written albums. This particular project had its genesis in my desire to bring this to life. But because I moved away from Montreal, because I'm full-time into comics, my actual involvement in the later processes of the music is much less than Joseph Donovan. He is the real mastermind, the real genius behind these songs. He's a Juno-award winning producer out of Montreal.
How did you guys end up working together on the Black Canary EP?
FLETCHER: Joseph is really incredible. We met because he was producing an album for me. In the process of that, I ended up becoming the keyboard player in his band and we struck up a long-term friendship. When this opportunity came up, I went straight to him. We started jamming on what the sound should be and we started putting together the first song. By the time I left Montreal, we had enough of the skeleton of this thing together, so he continued production.
How did you find the voice of Dinah Lance?
FLETCHER: Joseph recommended Michelle Benson as the voice of Canary. We listened to a lot of singers. We wanted someone locally we could work with. He had been producing Michelle's band on a few songs and was looking to work with her again. Michelle came in and nailed it straight out of the gate.
The EP is three songs. Are there more?
FLETCHER: If you read the comic, the band has only put out one EP so far, then they went on tour. But they're clearly playing a full set as they're touring. We have enough material to make a full set, but what form that's going to take if and when more material gets published, I won't say right now. But there is more material.
What was the first song you worked on?
FLETCHER: “Fish out of Water.” You can tell. It's got the scream in it, in a musical way. It's not the Canary Cry. But it's sort of a melodic interpretation of what the Canary Cry might be.
What's up next for you and BLACK CANARY?
FLETCHER: We're still working on the last couple of issues of Black Canary before Rebirth. Issues #11 and #12. It's a much different vibe than the first collection that just came out.
FLETCHER: The first volume is about Dinah feeling strongly about who she is – knowing who she is – but now she's not in her element. A fish out of water, so to speak. She knows who she is and knows what she can do. But she's not 100% comfortable with being on stage. She's learning how to be a performer. Over the course of the arc, she figures out how to find a comfort zone within it. To connect it to parts of her life.
We don't move away from that int the second arc, but we explore the implications of that a little further. In particular, we delved into movement. It's not all about singing on stage when you're in a band. You have to put on a show and part of that lives in your body. And as we know, Dinah Lance is the most talented martial artist in the DC Universe. This is a woman who can move her body. What does it mean to be a martial artist who is fronting a band? It's how she connects to stage performance and all of that spirals back to her family and her history and ninjas and 80s goth rock. I'm not even kidding.
You can take a listen to the EP below. Like what you hear? Head over to the official site to purchase the full EP for only $3.50USD.