While listening to recent episodes of the Fandomania podcast in which Jason and Celeste discuss the male privilege and sexism of certain TV show creators, I decided to postpone the second part of the nerdcore next gen article to discuss a topic that I’ve been thinking about for some time. There aren’t as many women who make geeky music as there are men. This is no surprise, given the male-dominated nature of the geek culture. Plenty of people have commented on sexism and male privilege in the geek community. Geeky women have to endure sexual comments online, female characters are hyper-sexualized, and even good natured men participate in “benevolent sexism” (myself included). When anyone points out how sexist this is, no matter how politely, the conversation suddenly turns acrimonious and degenerates into name calling and threats of rape. It’s no wonder there aren’t many female artists if there aren’t many female geeks.
Regardless, there are quite a few talented musicians who also happen to be both female and geeky. Here are a few, some of whom I’ve included in reviews or lists before, but many that I have not. I will make every effort to rectify that in the future. And, just to anticipate any potential comments, I have made an effort not to be sexist in the article; please understand that if I’ve done so it’s been unintentional. I’m still learning!
Women of Nerdcore
As I mentioned before, there aren’t many women in nerdcore. There are some really great artists, but even those that exist don’t have many songs out there, let alone full albums. This is a shame, and it does make it hard to describe someone’s style when they only have a few songs out there, but I will at least say a few words about each.
MC Router is likely best known for her response to a Wired article about nerdcore back in 2006. She did have a point; the article mentioned that there were “a few ladies” in the nerdcore scene, then proceeded to ignore them all in its description of various artists. Of course, I don’t have much room to criticize Wired because I’m just as guilty.
In addition to her solo stuff, Betty Rebel is a member of Emergency Pizza Party. “Mana and Me” is, I believe, about the SNES game Secret of Mana. Not one I’ve played, but it looks quite cool. Perhaps I’ll check it out at some point.
Like fellow Scrub Club member Betty Rebel, MC Diabeats makes her own music and is a member of The Bloodclan, a duo who rap about Vampire: the Masquerade. Although I’ve never actually played the game, I know a bit about the lore surrounding it. The Bloodclan do a nice job of creating rap based on that world.
Along with MC Router, Nursehella is one of the original ladies of nerdcore. I’d really like to hear more from her in the future; she has a great voice and flow.
Women of Chiptunes
ComputeHer and 8bit bEtty
I should probably stop saying that I don’t like chiptunes because I’m really starting to change my mind on that. The music of both 8bit bEtty and ComputeHer pushes me in the direction. They both remind me more of electronica on 8-bit “instruments” than video game music (and it’s possible that that is exactly what chiptunes are supposed to be, but I’ve never noticed it before). 8bit bEtty’s Too Bleep to Blop even has an 8-bit cover of the theme from Reading Rainbow. And how can you not like someone who clearly loves puns? ComputeHer’s latest album is called Modemoiselle. Both are worth checking out.
Other Geeky Women
Marian Call has long been one of my favorite geeky artists. As much as I appreciate nerdcore, I grew up with rock and folky music and that’s where my main musical passions still lie. Marian Call also writes music about another passion of mine: literature. Geeky references are great, but literary writing in music is rare. So combining the two makes for some truly sublime music. And that’s Marian Call. From “I’ll Still Be a Geek After Nobody Thinks It’s Chic” to “Dear Mr. Darcy,” her music is ready made for a geeky English teacher fan of Joni Mitchell like me.
The Doubleclicks make funny, geeky music with guitar and cello. As if that wasn’t geeky enough, they also write songs about D&D, Jurassic Park, and punctuation marks. Their lyrics are clever and funny, and the combination of guitar (sometimes ukulele) and cello makes for a unique sound. In a move akin to Jonathan Coulton, they spent six months writing a song a week, and right now they are in the middle of a SongFu competition with John Roderick and…
Molly Lewis is another of my favorite geeky artists. I mean, she wrote a song about having Stephen Fry’s baby and actually got to perform it for him. How cool is that? She’s also a virtuoso on the ukulele, performing covers of everything from Lady Gaga to Jonathan Coulton to a mashup of Crosby & Nash with the Beatles. In short, she’s awesome!
I only recently discovered Helen Arney. Like Molly Lewis, she performs on ukulele, but she has quite a different style. She writes humorous music (perhaps I should write “humourous” as Ms. Arney is British) as well as songs about science (in fact, often combining the two). Sort of like a combination of Robin Ince, Josie Long, and Tim Minchin, but with a ukulele. Her song, “Animals,” the studio version of which is performed with Professor Elemental, is a wonderful play on the idea of animalistic passion. I’m really enjoying digging into her music.