Sunday, 6 July 2014

Why Nerd Music Matters (At Least To Me)

When I was seven years old I saw Buffy for the first time. It was the original airing of season one's The Puppet Master in the UK. My parents will tell you I was older than that but my Dad left me alone with the TV when he took my brother up to bed. He left me watching The Simpsons but once that finished Buffy came on and I was glued to the TV.

Now, I watched Star Trek with my Dad. TNG, DS9 and eventually Voyager and I loved Xena (and that started my love of wanting to be a warrior). But I always think of Buffy as my first real obsession (my Xena obsession came later when I rewatched it a little older and understood the subtext a whole lot more!)
But from the age of seven I wanted to  be a vampire slayer.

I never knew there was anything wrong with that either. I talked about Buffy endlessly. I read all the books, collected the magazines, had my Dad fashion me a stake out of an old plastic spade we used to take to the beach and I dressed as Buffy every year for Halloween. And I was bullied. Only lightly in primary school but much more in secondary school. I made friends there that liked the show and together we all found other interests, new shows, movies and music, which led to even more bullying and a few attacks and a couple of people were hospitalised. I never thought there was anything wrong with being a geek. With being a goth. With being a metalhead. We were just enthusiastic about the things we liked. And it didn't stop us being any of those things.

I loved reading horror and monster books and science fiction and fantasy. I loved writing stories. And I loved to write music. None of the lyrics necessarily rhymed, I hadn't gotten the nack for that yet, but I liked to write about vampires and tv shows I watched and movies.

I was a huge Nerf Herder fan because of Buffy. Once I got my first electric guitar I learned all their songs (and the Ramones) and even tried (however briefly) to start a tribute band - but not knowing any other Nerf Herder fans it didn't happen. I was also a Weezer fan. That was my introduction to geek rock but I always wanted to see something more. I wanted something a little geekier, a little more reference-heavy, that celebrated the life of a geek. A friend of mine introduced me to Jonathan Coulton in 2006 and that changed my life. He was writing the material I was trying to write and I had more confidence to go out and play gigs and open mic nights to play theses geeky songs I had about evil scientists and Charmed and Stargate. I learned more about how he made music and decided to study recording and music technology at University, learn more about the business and what it takes to be both independent and a signed artists and I then pursued a job behind the scenes as well as being a musician (I'm a tech in a recording and rehearsal studio these days). Then in 2009 I heard a Sci-Fried song when Gateworld posted an article about them and I suddenly ended up in this huge swell of music that I now am proud to say I try to support on a daily basis.

That's a little backstory.

So, now I come to my point.

Nerd music is important because its not a genre; its a community.
These are musicians making art to express their love. Love for tv, for movies, for games, for comics, for cartoons, for each other. Its an umbrella that unites.

I made a tonne of new friends and I found a bucket load of new artists and genres and was exposed to movies and shows I'd never seen and games I'd never played but now suddenly sounded so appealing to me.
And at its core its love. Sure, there are songs about how people dislike how a franchise has been handled. And there are always going to be commentaries. But if you listen to any form of nerd music you're so likely to find fellow fans. People who've been bullied for what they enjoy. People who you have so much in common with its like you've been friends for all of time. People to comisserate Firefly's cancellation, the havoc Michael Bay has reaped on Transformers, what George Lucas did to the Star Wars franchise.
Its a family. People, no matter what style they write in, are not afraid to work with each other. They actively pursue collaborations and fusions. I've seen nerdcore collaborations with rock, dubstep, chiptune. I've seen whole bands collaborate with other bands. I've discovered so many artists cause they've collaborated on someone elses track and then I've checked out their work. Its a never ending cycle of love and respect. Artists are so supportive of one another in this community. When one releases a new album, at least three other artists will post links to that album and ask their fans to go and buy it.

Nerd music doesn't get (a lot) of mainstream support. Sure, there are artists who've had recognition from some of the franchises that they've written about. Adam Warrock got a shout out from Nathan Fillion (Captain Mal, Firely) about his Firely themed EP that he made with Mikal kHill, Mega Ran gets recognition from Capcom for his Megaman songs. But the majority of the promotion and the name dropping is done by this community of artists.

It inspires me daily and has helped shape the life I currently lead. I found a place I feel that I belong. People who I can talk to about anything. I don't feel like an outsider or like a victim. I feel joy, love and pride for being a geek.  And I hope that I can do everything I can to spread this love and bring more people into our community.