If you're a fan of geek-themed music, you've probably already heard of the wonderful Meri Amber, but for those of you who haven't, this Sydney-based songstress writes and sings about everything from Pokemon to Doctor Who to video games. Now, she's celebrating six years of fantastically nerdy music with the release of Origin Story. We talked with Meri Amber and got to know what it's like being a geeky musician!
PopWrapped: You’ve been making geeky music for six years—has the geek music scene changed in all that time?
Meri Amber: At the start, I didn't even know of a geek music scene! It was a few years down the track that I was lucky enough to connect with a bunch of awesome geek musos online that introduced me to the wider geek music world.
Even in the few years that have passed since then, there have been changes. Artists decide to take breaks, bands dissolve, new bands are formed and people experiment with new things all the time. I guess it's like most music scenes in that way.
I feel like, more in a general "I sense" way, the scene is growing and there are more people out there writing songs from a geeky perspective or inspired by pop culture and fandoms. Indie musicians are more enabled nowadays to find their audience even if it's niche. Though, perhaps it's just the more you keep an eye out the more you notice!
PW: What did it look like when you started out vs. how it is today?
MA: When I first started releasing music it was a mix of comedy and folk-pop music. Back then I was pretty nervous and not entirely sure what I was doing (that hasn't changed), but I didn't have any sense of community. I was kinda just a solo artist releasing music and hoping someone would listen to it.
Now, after having connected with a bunch of other geeky musos, after collabing and chatting with people on a more regular basis, after performing at many comic conventions and connecting with people from all different places. The scene seems so much richer and like there's so many possibilities, ideas and ways it could grow.
I've heard from people that 'geek culture is going more mainstream' or that it's changed. I don't know whether I've been around long enough to see such a revolution. For me, I feel like it's a great thing if the stories and ideas of geeky creators reach more people so, if it is growing and expanding, that's great!
PW: What inspired you to get into the geek music genre as opposed to a more traditional music career?
MA: I did originally try having a more traditional music career and did a lot of traditional music career things. Growing up I did all the music exams, then I worked doing cover gigs in pubs and clubs and only now work solely on my original work. I also started off doing a disjointed mix of more comedic/satirical songs and more generic folk pop songs.
I guess it was always going to be a natural progression to geek pop music. It's the music I most enjoy writing and the music people kept asking me to play live and online. At first, I would call my songs 'quirky' or 'left of centre'. I thought I'd coined the term 'geek pop' and my business cards still have 'self-invented genre' written on them. I did that because I thought I could set my own boundaries (as whatever I desired).
But, it seems the geek music world is actually a pretty good match for what I do. It's just as wild, varied and has just as nutty artists as me creating things. It's just a label after all, but it works.
PW: What do you fangirl over in your spare time?
MA: I fangirl over oh so many things. This question could seriously end up getting out of hand so I'll try and cut it down. I'm a huge fan of Doctor Who, tea, cats, Westworld, robots, pretty stationery, comics, retro games, space, quirky musical instruments, calligraphy, cosplay, modern art and Invader Zim. There's a short list for now :P
I go through phases with things (which I suppose all of us do), but if you ask me in a month from now the list might be completely re-arranged or completely different. There are so many fun, beautiful, inspiring and fantastic things out there to fangirl over!!
PW: If you could work with anyone on a duet, who would you pick?
MA: I recently had a dream come true getting to perform with Kirby Krackle in Sydney and Perth Supanova Expos. I'd be really keen to collab with most people in the geek music scene, so far I haven't met anyone that isn't super friendly!
PW: If you could go back in time, what advice would you go back and give yourself?
MA: I always say this, and it's the best piece of advice I've got. It's lame and you've heard it before. But it can take years or even a lifetime to actually understand and live it. Be yourself.
I spent a long time trying to be things I wasn't because the path was clearer and easier. I managed to utterly convince myself that that's what I'd always wanted to do (a little voice in the back of my mind likely still knowing I was lying). But it'd all fall apart if I actually let my mind ponder over my true passions.
Stick to your guns and be you. Authentically you. Artistically and otherwise. It's the best thing for your happiness, your health and the audience who's given their time to appreciate and support you.
PW: So what’s next for you?
MA: My brand new album Origin Story
just came out, which I'm super excited about. It's six years of my music in one package and it's the biggest thing I've ever put out to the world. Whether you've heard my music before or not, it's a great album to listen to to get an understanding of my "origin story" as a musician and an introduction to my music. I couldn't be more proud of it.
I'm likely going to be spending some time promoting the CD while I tour and create music videos and the such to support the release. It's going to be a fun time!