Posts tagged steampunk
San Diego Comic Con International 2013 has been over for a few weeks now. Attendees have finally recuperated from the chaos and excitement that is SDCC. As exhausting and chaotic as the pop culture convention is, the experience is also an extremely rewarding one for many. One of my favorite aspects of SDCC is the sense that not only are you part of a massive geek/nerd community, but you can also create your own world within that community. Whether you love steampunk cosplay or consider yourself the ultimate TV geek, there are different experiences for any fan at SDCC, you just have to make it. This is the first post in what I hope to be a couple of interviews with women who helped create their own personalized mini-universe within the zeitgeist that is SDCC.
Lady Steam (aka Dina Kampmeyer) is a co-founder of the League of Extraordinary Ladies and a self-described steampunk aficionado. This year Dina moderated two panels on steampunk at SDCC, The Witty Women of Steampunk and Steampunk 101, in addition to cosplaying as a steampunk Luke Skywalker. If you are interested in hearing more about Dina’s involvement with the League of Extraordinary Ladies, you can read her thoughts in a previous interview NiB had with her (and other LxLers).
1) How did you first get interested/involved in steampunk?
Dina Kampmeyer (DK): I started dating someone that was a steampunk and I had absolutely no idea what it is, but I was instantly drawn to the aesthetic. I jumped in with both feet and wanted to meet other people in LA that were into the same thing. The community was a bit disorganized, so I started volunteering my time to start planning occasional events and moderate the two FB pages that were already up and running.
2) What was your first steampunk costume?
DK: It was a pseudo-military look. I bought this great jacket online and went crazy modifying it. I cut off the sleeves, laced up the sides and added a ton of trim, buttons, epilets, etc. Then I added a bunch of ruching to this old skirt I had from college. Added a straw hat from the Renaissance Faire and boom, (not so) instant steampunk.
3) One thing I particularly love about SDCC is the feeling of belonging while at the same time creating your own reality/dream. Steampunk seems to fit into this idea perfectly. Why do you think steampunk has gained so much interest/traction at SDCC and other conventions?
DK: I think there are a lot of reasons why steampunk has become so popular in general, but in terms of conventions, I would say people just love the aesthetic. It’s so playful and it really allows costumers and cosplays a degree of freedom that they don’t usually have in other areas. Most cosplayers are looking to recreate an exact costume, but with steampunk, you don’t do that. You’re not dressing up as someone else’s character (in general), but rather creating a brand-new work of art. I think more people are getting into the genre now through this new trend of steampunking out existing pop culture characters. This is an easier way for them to explore steampunk while working with an existing product, but with an amazing degree of
creativity and freedom.
4) What kind of advice can you give someone who is looking to create their first steampunk cosplay costume?
DK: Try not to be intimidated. I hear so many people who are interested in steampunk worry that they don’t have the “right”
clothing or accessories. There is very little right and wrong in steampunk and we LOVE to help out new people, give them advice and heck, even loan them clothes. Come to steampunk events even if you’re just starting out, take a look at outfits that you like, and ask people how they created things. Go to local thriftshops and try and use your imagination. You’ll be surprised at how much you can create with an old dress and a sewing machine (or some safety pins and tape if you don’t sew).
5) You recently moderated a panel at SDCC called “The Witty Women of Steampunk.” Can you give a general synopsis of the panel for those who were unable to attend SDCC (or the panel)? What was your favorite moment of the panel?
DK: I was very lucky to have this panel accepted by the lovely folks at SDCC for the 2nd year in a row. Basically, I put together an incredible group of female creators and just let them talk about why they love steampunk and what about the genre appeals to them as a creator. We talked comics, alternate history, video games, costuming, multiculturalism and more.
6) Why “Witty Women” of Steampunk?
DK: Part of what is so appealing about steampunk is a return to the Victorian ideals of the pursuit of knowledge and civility. People were very interested in improving both themselves and the world around them. I think we all long to return to a time when wit was a prized possession and my panelists all fit that bill.
7) You also moderated a panel entitled, “Steampunk 101.” Based on discussions at that panel (and of course your own thoughts), what do see for the future of steampunk in popular culture?
DK: Excellent question. The popularity of steampunk has positively exploded over the past couple of years and we expect to see more and more of it in popular culture. It’s been huge amongst the convention crowd for a long time, but Hollywood is slowly starting to take notice. Fox just gleenlit a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen TV-pilot, so we’ll see if we finally get a big steampunk series. There has yet to be a big steampunk movie and the panelists (and audience) were all interested in seeing one. Steampunk-literature is popping up all over the NY Times bestseller chart, so I think it’s only a matter of time before we see a big film coming out. Until then, we can keep ourselves occupied with all the fantastic literature and webseries that have directly explored the genre.
8) This year you cosplayed as Steampunk Luke Skywalker. What prompted you to do a gender-swap steampunk cosplay?
DK: Well, I have wanted to do a steampunk Star Wars group for several years and I finally managed to do it. I always intended to be R2D2, but time snuck up on me and we were missing a Luke from our core group, so I thought, why not? He was quite a challenge to find a way to make him distinctive since his outfit isn’t that unique and I was already going to confuse people by crossplaying. I hope that I succeeded and we’ll be building up this group for future conventions and adding some new characters.
Chrissy Lynn is a CA native who began costuming at a very young age. With a major interest in comics and scifi growing up she attended her first comic convention in 2004. She’s always had a passion for the arts; be it charcoal, make-up, costume design or music. She’s used her talents and skills to help fundraise for many non-profit charity organizations and enjoys cosplaying, especially her signature cosplay, Catwoman. Since her first Cosplay at Comicon in 2010 she’s been involved in 6 Cosplay groups, two of which she organized including the DC Steampunk group which debuted at SDCC in 2012. She was introduced to Steampunk in 2007, being a fan of HG Wells, Jules Verne and other scifi authors during the turn of the century she adopted the Victorian science fiction motif and made it apart of her daily style and Cosplay medium of choice. This year at San Diego Comicon she was invited by a good friend to join a Steampunk Star Wars group which turned out to be a hit and will be back at this year’s Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo.
1) Your DC Steampunk cosplay group is amazing! How did that come together?
Chrissy Lynn (CL): It all started with having a passion for both the DC Comics universe and Steampunk Culture. I simply started piecing together the idea shortly after Comicon 2011 and thats when I called upon my very good friend Johnny Bias (Steampunk Riddler), from there we reached out to our close friends who we knew would be interested,and could all work together to make these costumes cohesive and photograph well. We all have a hand in something on everyone’s costumes, it’s a team effort that has grown into a family, some cosplayers retire their character and are replaced with other awesome cosplayers. I couldn’t be more proud of this group, we all did this together.
2) Did you all work together on your costumes? If so, which costume did you find the most challenging to put together?
CL: We all came from different skill sets, some of us are tailors and seamstresses, leather workers and some of us are FX and prop fabricators, or geniuses with industrial glue guns. So far what characters you haven’t seen in the group yet are our most challenging. But I’d say, my occasional challenge is doing our Two Face’s makeup because he is unfortunately allergic to latex, so next time I may need to work with silicone!
3) If you had unlimited resources, what would be your ultimate steampunk cosplay (group or individual)?
CL: I’ve been in talks with several individuals who want to do Disney Steampunk, I was honored to recently be a part of this year’s Star Wars Steampunk group with Dina, and I have to say I’d stick with the DC group, only make it BIGGER. 😉 However I wouldn’t mind doing a Steampunk X-men group, just sayin’!
4) Any advice to anyone else trying to put together a cosplay group (steampunk or otherwise) for a convention?
CL: YouTube is filled to the brim on HOW-TO’s and DIY videos, if you are a visual learner check those out, otherwise do what we all have done, trial and error. If I knew 5 years ago what I know now with today’s skill set I would have made ALL the things, at least better. But like any other trade it can take years to master, you don’t always need a sewing machine or unlimited funds, I have a gift for deconstructing pre-existing materials into other objects to fit my cosplay needs. So I encourage everyone to try and remember cosplay is just that, it’s costume play, so play and have fun no matter what!
DC Steampunk Photos by Mike Rollerson
Star Wars Steampunk Photo by Jerry Abuan
Steampunk Malificent Photo by Justin Davidson
Shadowbinders is a bright and shiny new webcomic created by the husband and wife team of Thom and Kambrea Pratt. Combining the daily trials and tribulations of high school with adventures in a futuristic steampunk world is a highly original idea that pays off well. The hand-drawn animation style is simple and charming and the digital colors are vibrant and really bring the stories alive.
Our main character is Mia, a spunky, smart and not-so-popular teenage girl drooling after the “hot guy” in school and occasionally dreaming of smashbuckling adventure aboard a flying ship. One day, these dreams become reality and she meets the crew of The True North and its roguish captain, Crimson Rhen. Rhen reminds me of Captain Jack Harkness and is charming, brave and arrogant.
Adventures and mysteries abound throughout the series and I look forward to reading more. The series is currently in the fifth chapter of the adventure and the artists usually release a new panel twice a week and have a very interactive website. Until then, there’s plenty of catch up, so if you’re looking for a fun romp, check out Shadowbinders at http://shadowbinders.com/.
With the plethora of web series out there right now, it’s difficult to find one that really captures your imagination. I, like so many others, watched a hilarious silent video for a group called the League of S.T.E.A.M. that reproduced the Ghostbusters, “we’re ready to believe you” commercial. Done in the classic 20’s black and white style, this commercial was gorgeously shot, fascinating to watch and made me laugh out loud. I soon discovered that the League had an entire webseries available and the commercial was simply a teaser for what was to come. As it turns out, I was late to the party. When I started becoming active in the Steampunk community in Los Angeles, I would hear mention of the “League” more often than not and when I hosted my first Steampunk happy hour, most of the League happily showed up for the party. While I was introduced to the lively bunch online, their story goes much further back and is grounded in live-performances. I was lucky enough to speak with a few members of the League recently and found out about their origins, how they journeyed to the web and about their plans for Season 2.
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Baron Andrew Von Fogel shared the charming story of how the League first came to be a little over 3 years ago. The Labyrinth of Jareth is a masquerade ball (that just celebrated its 11th year) and is a beacon to those in the Los Angeles area looking to make a splash with their one-of-a-kind costumes and mechanical inventions. It was there that Von Fogel first met Nick Baumann, his lovely wife Robin Blackburn and several of their friends. Apparently Blackburn herself was the catalyst for the formation of the League with her choice of costume for the evening.
Obsessed with Marie Antoinette and 18th century clothing, Blackburn wanted to add something special to her Labyrinth costume that year and she thought back to the ghosts in the Harry Potter films. “I loved the ghostly texture of their garments, and how that texture was applied to the different time periods of each ghost character. I was hooked and truly inspired by the detail of the 18th century and the use of texture to create an ethereal look.” Baumann quickly caught onto her idea and decided to join her as a ghost hunter and got a small group of friends together to create a group costume. They were the hit of the ball that year and attracted a lot of attention, including from Von Fogel. The newly-formed group quickly bonded over a love of Steampunk costumes and inventions and they found themselves making a regular appearance at the Labyrinth where they are still a highlight of the festivities every year. This year, two members of the League even got engaged on stage. So sweet!
The League started making public appearances all over Southern California and eventually, the whole country. Their live act became so popular that they decided to find a way to move beyond their geographical limitations. Von Fogel had just gotten out of art school and had the necessary equipment and desire to try making a webseries. They started small, filming “Monkey Business” in Griffith Park in five hours and editing the entire thing themselves. They put it up online and the response was overwhelmingly positive and thus the series was born. As a way to get new viewers hooked, the infamous Ghostbusters homage commercial was filmed and placed online. Von Fogel knew that using “pop-culture shorthand” was a great way to get the attention of anyone who had seen the 80s hit and it was a quick and easy entry to the series.
Post-production on the series is performed by League members and comrades which is impressive to say the least considering the incredibly high production value on the series, including some pretty impressive special effects. Von Fogel does the “color grading on all of our episodes, as well as a lot of the visual effects and compositing. A lot of these skills are self-taught, and others I learned while studying filmmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design. We’re also so thankful to have Russ Isler in our group – he’s a very talented visual effects animator, and his help has been invaluable for some of the more difficult effects shots!”
Season One of the League of S.T.E.A.M. contained seven hilarious episodes and even resulted in a spotlight appearance in a Panic at the Disco music video. When asked why she thought the League has become so popular, Blackburn, who plays Lady Potts in the series mused, “maybe it has to do with the “every-person” aspect of what we do. The characters are the common person with dreams and goals to make things better in their lives. And though they are constantly met with opposition, many times by their own doing, they get back on their feet and keep going. Or maybe the fans simply love all the cool props and costumes. Or maybe the fans can sense the League is a group of friends with a wild creative streak and an affinity for laughter, that we like to explore and share. We love what we do, so maybe that’s it.” As a fan of the League myself, I would have to agree with her on all of those points. The series and the group itself are wickedly funny, insanely creative and incredibly grateful for their success.
They have great plans for Season Two of their webseries and of special interest to our readers, Von Fogel announces that “in addition to some more detailed roles for Lady Potts, we’re happy to be adding some great new female characters to our cast, including Ellie Copperbottom – Co-founder of the Jr. League W.A.T.C.H; Katherine Blackmoore – zombie head-basher extraordinaire; and The Russian – cryptozoological researcher! One of the great things about all of the female characters in the League is that they’re generally smarter and more competent than the men are!”
Just this past weekend, the League reached their funding goal of $10,000 on Kickstarter with the help of their many fans. There’s still a bit more time left on the campaign though, so if you’d still like to donate, they are offering some fantastic incentive packages for donors until August 27th. Additional monies will help them add more locations, monsters and gadgets. I know I’ll be awaiting Season 2 with bated breath and I hope you’ll give these crazy kids a chance if you haven’t already.
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You can catch up on Season 1, find out live appearances & find out more about the League at: http://leagueofsteam.com/
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Review by: Megara Noelle
Looking for more Steampunk in your fantasy Sci-Fi books? Tired of the same old settings of modern times or the future? Well, I have a book that can give you that change. I present to you a book with Werewolves, Vampires, and Victorian scandal. In Gail Carriger’s first book of the Parasol Protectorate series, Soulless, we follow Alexia Tarabotti as she fearlessly makes her way through the world of the supernatural. Of course it helps that she has no soul, one of the rare ‘Preternatural’, something that she inherited from dead Italian father, quite scandalous. We find out right away that her preternatural abilities help her face down the supernatural, they can turn Vampires and Werewolves human for as long as they touch her.
Following Alexia through this supernatural murder mystery we watch as she interacts with some of the most powerful and well known Hive and Pack members of society. And she does all of this in secret as she keeps her own status a secret from her family. Alexia Tarabotti is one of the most unique characters that I have encountered, and I taught myself to read when I was four and haven’t stopped, so I’ve read through my fair share of books. She has elements of almost every female main character. She can kick-ass when in a tough situation, but will still ask for help and use her womanly wiles, and still manages to have some time to focus on what she thought was a non-existent love life. My favorite character has to be Lord Akeldama though, a very eccentric vampire who loves color, art, and many other exciting and loud things, and people. Although, I won’t lie and say that I wouldn’t love to meet the loud, brash and very handsome werewolf Alpha, Lord Maccon.
Alexia Tarabotti is headstrong, and stubborn, (much like my family) and despite almost everyone she knows telling her not too, she investigates the appearances of vampires and disappearances of werewolves on her own. It gets her into trouble more often than not, but where’s the fun in life without a little excitement? Am I right? Being labeled a spinster helps her not draw attention though, as it is quite scandalous for a woman in the late 1800’s to be talking to scientists, and reading more than her fair share of books. Sounds like my kind of girl. All she really wanted was some treacle tart.
Overall, I was very happy at the end of the book. It can be read as a standalone, the story wrapping up without having to impatiently wait for the next in the series. But, you’ll want to continue reading the series because Miss Tarabotti is the kind of character that you want to know what happens to her, what kind of trouble that she causes, and if she’ll get out of it. I’ve added Gail Carriger to the list of authors I regularly look for when I visit a book store thanks to this book. If you want a little bit of steampunk and science in your Victorian novel, I highly recommend Soulless and the two following books in the Parasol Protectorate series, Changeless and Blameless.
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
Review by: Megara Noelle
I find most of my books, which turn out to be my favorites, by the book cover. This particular book I found mere weeks away from the World Steam Expo. I say this because on the cover of The Affinity Bridge is a large dirigible. Take my money, please. “A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation” the cover reads, “Steampunk is making a comeback, and with this novel Mann is leading the charge….” The Guardian dropped in, and some of the best reviews I’ve seen on the back. “An enormous pile of awesome.” Author Chris Roberson boasts, while the SF Signal says “Captures the Sherlock Holmes feel. Never a boring Passage. A Hugely entertaining book.” Steampunk and Sherlock Holmes in writing? Okay, now I’m just throwing my money at the cashier.
I wasn’t disappointed. It’s the early 1900’s, 1901 to be exact, and shipments and people coming back form India seem to have brought back a plague of some kind. Fog covers the streets, thickest in the morning and at night, and there’s a general warning out that no one is to travel the streets after sunset for fear of the plague ridden. One bite or scratch from these people will pass the plague, and those infected have merely three days before all hope is lost. Of course, those of us in the 21st century have a name for this, zombies. That’s right, I said zombies. Let’s tally this up so far. Sherlock Holmes, Steampunk, and now Zombies.
The enigmatic Sir Maurice Newbury is assigned a new assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, by the Queen herself. As soon as Miss Hobbes arrives they are thrown right into a new case, an airship crash where the automaton pilot has gone missing. They have to find the pilot, and find out why it malfunctioned when its creator claims that it can’t possibly malfunction, and investigate a string of murders committed by a glowing constable. The two cases can’t possibly be connected, so what to do what to do. The Queen is very interested in the airship crash and they’re starting to feel the pressure.
George Mann has created a world where things happen with plausible explanations, not where we’re asked to believe everything just on faith. It’s a blend of History Fiction and Sci-Fi/Fantasy that pulls you in. I usually only read Fantasy and High Fantasy novels, but with this book I find myself looking for Mann in the fiction section online and in real life for any new books. The way that Newbury and Hobbes work together gives a Holmes and Watson feel, but they have their own personalities and quirks. Headstrong Hobbes gives no real fuss when it comes to investigating or chasing down suspects, but enjoys a formal gala event and picking out the colors that she’ll wear. Newbury gives a feeling of cool calm and collected while craving and absorbing knowledge quicker than a sponge in the ocean. George Mann has a style of writing that I can only strive for as a budding author, and I personally can’t wait for the next Newbury and Hobbes installment, and if you want a mix of Steampunk, mystery, a touch of supernatural, and zombies, I think I found a book that you should give a chance.
This past Memorial Day weekend, here in the U.S., I was with a very large assembly of amazing people. Amazing people who all love Steampunk. I personally don’t know how we legally got away with letting such a large group of nerds/geeks/enthusiasts from all over the World congregate in one place for four days, but I love it. I attended the 2011 World Steam Expo! This is the second year for the fledgeling exposition, and they did not disappoint. I also attended the first year and I like the progress they’re making. After getting the program and moving to wait in line for the Opening Ceremonies (you have to get in line early for these things, you know) my friend and I started to plan out our weekend. It should be noted that the Expo runs for four days, but I was only allowed to attend three.
The schedule was packed with many things to do and see. Panels galore with amazing presenters, an amazing Dealer’s room, bands to listen to and get autographs from, and the first traveling steampunk museum exhibit. The Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation was set up in it’s very own room displaying the country’s first steampunk exhibit, Steampunk, Form & Function. Computers, projectors, even Flash Drives had a steampunk flair and function. I also can’t forget to mention Sparkticus. You rub his horn for good luck. I did. I think that’s how I was able to meet Steampunk Boba Fett and get a thumbs up, and he even called me sassy! I think that means he won’t kill me, at least right away.
My weekend was packed, but there were many things that I missed out on. But let’s not focus on that, let’s focus a little more on the presenters and panels that I saw. I encountered the International Anti-Piracy Squadron, or the IAPS, the most, there were very busy presenting panels, arresting poor unlawful souls, and drinking while telling salty tales. Salty tales of the sky, that is. Apart from the various fashion, etiquette, and grooming panels, my favorite had to be the Multiculturalism in Steampunk panel, co-presented by the wonderous G.D Falksen. Miss Kagashi of the Multiculturalism for Steampunk blog came dressed in her own Native American Steampunk outfit, and displaying her Turkish Steampunk outfit. I highly recommend looking up the entire Squadron, they are a hoot and a half, and full of really good information, if you can catch them at a good time when they’re not grappling with airship pirates.
I can’t leave out G.D. Falksen who is one of the most recognized faces of Steampunk. When he isn’t writing novels or serial stories, he’s helping to create of the first Steampunk MMO’s, AIR. I wrote up a review of the exclusive preview of the game and you can check it out over at the TCPS (To Continue Press Start) blog, here. The Vagabonds taught us about Steampunk in the media, and Gears, gadgets and doodads. The Royal Ladies’ & Gentlemens’ Experimental Madness Society talked to us about turning out wardrobe into everyday steampunk, and not just costumes, and talked to us about the sounds of steampunk, along with The Clockwork Dolls. I have so many bands and artists to check out now, and hopefully to add to my steampunk music collection. Ring of Steel showed us the art of the whip. (Note: If you had thought about wanting to meet me in real life, please dismiss that notion now, for after this panel/demonstration, I am now going to buy a whip, like Indiana Jones. Fear me.) Girl Genius, the webcomic and now novel, created by Prof.’s Phil and Kaja Foglio, know of it? Well they were there too! Here I’ll prove it with this picture. (Kaja said she liked my Obi belt.) Well, not only were they there but they did a couple of panels, and the Girl Genius Radio Plays! I remembered them from last year and endeavored to get to this this year, although I did sadly miss the auditions to become the narrator.
I seemed to have mentioned music and performers, and oh they had concerts and performers there. There was even comedy, from the likes of English comedians Andrew O’Neill and Marc Burrows, both from the band The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. Hi.Lari. Ous. The wonderful bagpipe and drum band, Tartanic! I’ve seen/known them for almost three years now, I might have to have them play at my wedding now, they’re a bunch of wonderful hams. The gypsy band Frency and The Punk, formerly known as the Gypsy nomads. A very hilarious, very dirty and raunchy Irish band called The Bawdy Boys. They have several different shows, but they’re obvious specialty is the Dirty Show/Bawdy Boozer. They get drunk with you, and then sometimes they’ll sing for you, too. A couple of them went through two 6 packs of Guinness beer. They were easily vying for the top spot of favourite event of the expo, and they’re really fun to talk to, I got a picture and a button. And, of course, no steampunk event would be complete without Abney Park. I was almost at the end of the line waiting for them, but some how ended up near the very front of the mosh pit, getting some decent pictures. They put on a great show, and had a sesnse of humour, joking about an “act of God” clause in their contract in response to the tornado that happened 40 miles away. Speaking of mosh pits, steampunk mosh pits are some of the most polite pits you’ll find. We’ll knock you down, but we’ll help you right back up before knocking you down again. Quite good fun. There were more bands and performers there, I just wasn’t able to see them all.
There are two performances that I’ve left out, one of them Very important. Some of the bands performed at The Midnight Carnival, and Pop Hayden was there! A man not born in this century, but he came here with his magic and his medicinal wares, and generously shared this with everyone. And then, my personal favourite of the weekend, Miss Hayley Jane of Tick Tock Tease, an amazing, young, burlesque performer. She gave a panel about burlesque and then performed with the Bawdy Boys, and on her own, complete with wardrobe malfunction! For someone so young, she is really accomplished and talented.
That was just a little taste of what’s at the World Steam Expo, and even I had a hard time making up my mind about which panels and performances to go see. I was having nerdgasms at the amount of awesome was there this year, and the fact that I got to show off some more of my costumes, this year a slightly Japanese inspired steampunk bounty hunter named Sakura “Saki” Kade. (I got some Really nice service at the registration desk because my named had alcohol in it. 😀 ) I can’t recommend and encourage everyone to attend this expo more. i had more fun here than I had at Gen Con last year, and I think that’s saying something, this expo pulls in a couple thousand because of a smaller venue, The Hyatt. It really is amazing, and I’m already planning a costume theme for next year; Steampunk-ed Video Game Characters. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make some waistcoats and design some skirts and pants, I’m moving into a steampunk lifestyle.
Oh Hai Internets! I have been spending a lot of time in my own head as of late (what with my jaw trying to kill me. Long story) and I finally feel well enough to dropkick the moon!
During the time that I have been immersed in a spiral of hate, I have backed away from websites so as to not angrily type something. Instead, I focused all of my energy on something that I love beyond measure – MUSIC!
To give this the nerdy twist it deserves, I have been infatuated as of late with two new types of rap that are quickly growing near and dear to my heart. No, it’s not Jonathan Coulton’s cover of “Baby Got Back”, even though that cuddles me with the gentle caress of a Peter Gabriel song (shut up). What I’m referring to are the completely different but totally palatable nerd rap forms of nerdcore and chap-hop.
But Ali, what are these two that you speak of?
First, I will start with Nerdcore. On the Netflix, I took a gander at the documentary “Nerdcore Rising” and found that it’s… well… nerdy rap. I wish I could describe it more definitively, but if you have read anything by me you know that I type faster than I think (and you get a bunch of internal dialogue in the process). These artists rhyme about anything from politics to science fiction and the name seems to have been coined by self described Nerdcore Musician MC Frontalot in the 2000 song “Nerdcore Hiphop”.
Here’s one of my favorites from MC Frontalot
From what I can tell the majority of this genre is self-published online and it is so full of DIY possibilities I bet Jackie’s brain is exploding somewhere. In fact, I want Jackie to do a nerdcore rap under the guise MC Cephalopod.
There isn’t a specific sound to this genre of hip hop, but a common theme is sampling from the most random places imaginable. Classical Music, movies, video games, and if it hasn’t been done yet, I would imagine samples from beakers and test tubes filled with various elements.
If you have any interest in checking out some artists, please have a listen to MCFrontalot, Optimus Rhyme (raddest name EVER!), MC Plus+, and Monzy. Or, if you need a gateway into this subgenre, listen to Weird Al Yankovic’s “White and Nerdy” parody as it steeps your ear canal in a three minute nerdgasm.
Chap-Hop: The Gentleman’s Rap.
Chap-Hop is infinitely harder to explain as there is no dedicated wiki page to it and that is just rotten.
I do not know the origin of Chap-Hop, only how I was introduced to it. I had just finished podcasting with a bunch of friends and we were playing the “Have you seen it?” game with the YouTubes. This game is basically showing people something that you like that they have never seen. Enter Professor Elemental’s “Fighting Trousers”.
I cannot stop listening to his CD “The Indifference Engine”. As you listen through the tracks, you find that there are traditional rap themes tackled in each song. There is the dis song, the song about the ladies, the song about imbibing copious amounts of mind altering substances, the song about money, the song about living conditions.
I could probably sum this up by saying that Professor Elemental is a Steampunk inspired character that burst forth from the mind of rapper Paul Alborough. I would love to talk to this man, but I’m afeared that I might daze out as I’m a sucker for the English accent.
He is currently in a feud with another Chap-Hop artist named Mr. B. As this is a very obscure art form, I have no other recommendations for you. I do, however, want him to come to the US for a lengthier tour than the three day stint at the Steampunk World’s Fair this May. I know this isn’t a platform to beg for money, but if someone wants to get me a ticket and hotel room I will go to the Steampunk World’s Fair and do video recaps. It’s a sacrifice I would be willing to make.