On music and nerds

London is electronic music. Jungle, dubstep, IDM, electronica, glitch, ambient, and (sadly) trance all had roots in the United Kingdom’s capital city. While these genres may catalyze a spectrum of thoughts (between falling asleep and dancing for 15 solid hours, then waking up in a hospital bed wondering what happened to your missing wallet), they all have one thing in common: The music is created by nerds.

Mentally place yourself in Brooklyn, New York — quite possibly the epicenter of the scenester universe. Everyone in your cone of vision is wearing jeans that grab so much crotch, there is literally no chance of future procreation. Odds are you will bump into a self-proclaimed visionary artist or poet, whose work is more amateurish than the garbage you turned out during an unnecessarily emotional high school breakup. (As a side-note, they’re probably drinking Red Stripe.) You’re standing in line at Studio B — one of the newer clubs set in the middle of a warehouse district. While a little shaky about the prospect of getting mugged, the shocking plethora of free parking manages to overshadow your nervousness. You’re there to see Simian Mobile Disco: a British electro-dance production duo from the coastal town of Bristol. From what you’ve heard, you’ve painted a picture in your head of a pair of waifs, dressed in a “Frankie Says Relax” T-shirt paired with the aforementioned size-zero women’s jeans.

But when the band hits the stage, you find you were completely wrong. These two gentlemen are no trendier than your run-of-the-mill Linux-running, occasionally showering, Carnegie Mellon computer science major. Huge white-guy afro, Nirvana-era ripped jeans, and middle-aged physique. They don’t mix with turntables and they have presumably never touched a traditional instrument. They use laptops, beat samplers, and patch bays (basically, panels full of circuits).

Somehow, unbeknown to me, such equipment combined with the direction of two nerdy dudes produced some of the most dance-able music I’ve heard to date — ironic, considering neither member of the duo could dance to save their lives. The show is mesmerizing — a veritable mindfuck of light and sound.

The topical music genre, which I colloquially address as “Nerd Dance,” has been on the rise over the past few years. Rewind to Pittsburgh last summer: Girl Talk, a 26-year-old biomedical engineering graduate from Case Western Reserve, was published in the College Music Journal and Rolling Stone, both of which had a musically induced orgasm over his first major release Night Ripper. Gregg Gillis (Girl Talk’s human name) mastered the art of mash-up dance, somehow successfully mixing Ying Yang Twins with Elton John. That being said, Gillis is just shy of 6’3”, has an extremely pronounced Adam’s apple, and sports a dance routine which ultimately resembles an epileptic giraffe. A nerd.

Consider this a call to arms for music-loving dorks everywhere — your era is now. Groups like Daft Punk, Alan Braxe and Friends, Justice, and Digitalism are all rocking sold-out shows and packed nightclubs. Grab your computers, circuitry toolkits, and an 808 and perhaps someday, you could be the next Simian Mobile Disco or Girl Talk.