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Two years ago, I attended my very first MagFest. MagFest is a music and gaming festival that happens in National Harbor, Maryland. It’s like any other Con, except it’s one of the few large performance opportunities for Nerdcore artists. Magfest was my first exposure to this genre and the beginning of my love affair with it as well. With this interview series, I hope to open up your mind and your ears to these eclectic and innovative artists. To kick things off I talked to Professor Shy Guy. A Louisiana native, who has allowed his love of music and nerd culture to carry him from one opportunity to the next!
Marjie X Jo’Rie: Why Nerdcore?
Professor Shy Guy: So, when I was in Nashville I was in another band called The Aeronauts and it’s tricky to travel with the band because there’s like five of us and gear. Either we have to rent a vehicle or take two vehicles and then we get paid we have to split it five ways it’s etc… And I was like I play music all the time, so I need another act like I want to do a solo thing. I didn’t want my solo thing to be like my band. I don’t want to just be like songs I would write for the band type of music got right with the band. So, I was like I’ll just make it dancey, electronic stuff. I also I know a lot of nerdy stuff and that’s subject matter that I can draw from that I haven’t been using for the band. So, I ended up being Nerdcore just co-incidentally I guess I wasn’t super familiar with the scene until I started doing it. Kilroy is in The Protomen, he asked me can you get down to Nerdapalooza in Florida. That’d probably a great bet. So, he kind of told me about the whole scene because he was in the Protomen. I think I knew the Protomen because I lived in Nashville. I knew some of those guys but I know there was a whole scene with it basically.
MXJ: That’s really cool. I’m pretty new to Nerdcore myself so I’m learning new things even in this moment! Nerdapalooza, what is that?
PSG: It was a big festival in Orlando. It kinda imploded. It was really awesome. I played it twice the last two times that it existed. They wanted The Aeronauts there.
MXJ: What kind of music did you play with The Aeronauts?
PSG: I just did a little EP covering old Aeronauts songs in the shy guy style, but it’s like circusy kind of rocky gypsy ish stuff still kind of dancey, but in a different way. In a Latin kind of way.
MXJ: You’ve described your music as kind of like as kind of dancey. and electric a little bit, but what makes Professor Shy Guy stand out?
PSG: So, I say chiptune pop when I’m describing it and it’s tricky I’ve been trying to learn how to promote myself like how to market and stuff, but it’s tricky because there’s not particularly anything that sounds like me. So, like there’s a lot of chiptune out there but not too much of it has vocals. Some of it does, there’s a couple of bands like I Fight Dragons, but they’re more of a pop-punky kind of thing almost. They’re closer to Weezer and they’re not dance pop. Anamanaguchi was kind of like my stuff because I use live instruments mixed in with chiptune, but heavy on the chiptune. I like that I can’t quite find anything that sounds like me exactly, but what I boil it down to is, you like Anamanaguchi and you like Justin Timberlake, you like my stuff.
MXJ: When did you get started, when did you discover that you that you had these talents and that you wanted to pursue music?
PSG: I’ve been making music forever, as far back as I can remember. I remember getting one of those little Sears keyboards that’s like as long as the forearm and then upgrading from there and then moving away from the keyboard because guitar was cooler. It’s a little more tote-able as well. I learned to play by ear because that was the only way to learn at the time.
MXJ: So, from there you did you end up going to school for music or did you continue to pursue it and decide that it needed to be your all time forever and ever thing?
PSG: I avoided going to school for music because by then I was writing songs and I was like “my songs sound different”. I remember I first started writing this song and I was like “I love Incubus, I want to write a song that sounds like Incubus”. I wrote the song and I was like “I hate this fucking song it sounds like Incubus”. I’m glad that one of the first songs I wrote I was like “oh yeah I don’t want to sound like somebody else”. I was very proud of myself, now as an adult-ish man, of my young self for not going down that path. So, I didn’t want to go to school for music because I was like I have my own way of writing, you’re learning skills, but I didn’t want to muddy up the waters. I went to school for theater for a couple of years, but I knew that I didn’t want to do theater for a living. It helped my stage presence and stuff, it was a good thing. Then I moved to a graphic design and then I dropped out. So, those two skills definitely help me now that my living is music.
MXJ: You moved to Baltimore from Nashville, but did you move there or are you from there?
PSG: I moved there from Louisiana. My friend that was living there worked in a studio and said “Nashville is great for music”. From his perspective, it was because he worked in a studio. There’s plenty of business for studios. So, I got there, trying to perform and it was rough. This is the story I tell for why Nashville is a nightmare. There was a show and the venue called and said in two weeks we have an open day, can you this day? And I was like yes, I can! So, I found some bands, we threw a show together and we did it quick. $140 walked in the door. So, we had another gig, like two or three months down the road. We made it a whole thing. We promoted it. Me and the drummer would dress up in our costumes and go downtown town and hand out flyers. We’d pin flyers to all the big streets on the east side where we were living. We went all out and $140 walked into the door, because there is nothing you can do in that city! I hate it. That’s why I moved to Baltimore.
MXJ: Has your move been successful? Are you happier? Are you doing more things?
PSG: I’m happier for sure. I travel a lot. Nashville was OK because it was centralized. You can get to a lot of cities from it. That’s why I ended up there for a couple years past when I should have. I wouldn’t get so homesick, but now I get homesick. I’ve got a couple of local shows that are coming up. I’m playing a show with MegaRan and MC Lars in the next couple months and I’m actually I’m trying to work out having a live drummer for a set. So, that could be really good because it’s a really funky drummer and I’m really really picky about new drummers for me. I want somebody who’s really funky and he is, he’s real good.
MXJ: As far as your production is concerned is that something that you solely take care of? Since you are essentially of a one-man show is everything done by you or do you branch out every now and again?
PSG: I have the guests do vocals and stuff, but that’s more collaboration. My last album I had somebody mix and master it. That was rough for my controlling self. I’ve been doing it for myself for a couple of years. So, I’m very picky about the way things are done. It sounds great! It was just a rough process for me to be like “Here’s control of the mix of things”.
MXJ: What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
PSG: One of the first ones that come to mind is there’s a show called The Indoor Kids, it’s a podcast with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon and I got myself on to that which was really rad. It’s in the Nerdist. That was a pretty huge thing because that’s a crew that I would love to be involved with.
MXJ: That’s awesome. So along that same vein since those were people that you wanted to be in their circle, who are some people you would love to work with?
PSG: At this point in my scene I’m lucky enough that most of the people I want to work with, I’ve worked with. I haven’t done a song with Schaffer yet. The Darklord. He’s really good.
MXJ: What are your wildest dreams for yourself and for your music?
PSG: I would like to branch out into more video game soundtracks. I’ve done a little bit, mostly for people’s class projects and stuff like that. I would love to just have a soundtrack on a really rad game. Not that the people’s games I’ve worked on aren’t rad, but you know what I mean. One of those classics. Like one of the steam classics. I just want to do what I’m doing now, but more successful. I’m making a living at it, not like a solid living, but I can pay rent and eat food. I like food and walls. Music is all I do. I’m completely content that I can pay rent and eat food on just music. Yeah, I just want to play for more people and make better music.
MXJ: So, what is next for you? Are you going on tour? Do you have any new music coming out? What’s up?
PSG: I am working on a new album slowly, I’m trying to get the year kind of set up. I rose fairly quickly, I was doing well not knowing what the hell I was doing. Basically, I just kind of made it up as I went, but that has only got me about as far as I am now, so I need to learn new things. I need to find ways to push forward, harder. So, that’s kind of what my year is right now and then I start having cons in March.
MXJ: What cons are you doing in March?
PSG: I’m doing Shuto Con which is in Michigan and it’s awesome. I get to be open for Mystery. I have a gig in my hometown in Louisiana, Lake Charles, in April that will be my third time playing this con, CyPhaCon. It’s cool to go back and see my friends.