Nerd of the Week
Meet Shubzilla, a Rap Nerd
Interview by Terra Olsen
1: What are you nerdy for?
2: How did you discover rap?
I didn’t really discover nerdcore in the Christopher Columbus sense. My husband, Aaron (AKA VR) is a nerdy rapper, who has nerdy rapper friends. When he and I met, and I started kickin it more with his (now our) folks, I got more interested in rapping. Around the time I got interested enough to do something, I decided to retire from dance so I needed a new outlet to create. Rapping and writing seemed like the best transition from dance since I was already a fan of hip-hop and, for that matter, music as a whole.
3: What about rap sparked the nerd in you?
Rap gave me an opportunity to speak to what I was passionate about, whether it be things from nerd culture or whatever. It’s just me up there, not me doing someone else’s choreography, me and what I have to say. There’s something more personal about that. The fact that I can share what I am passionate about gives me the inspiration to learn, hone my skills, and practice it more and more and more. I also love reading about the history of hip-hop – it’s a rich history.
If you think about it, rap is full of nerds – we’re crafting words together to not only make a point, but also to do it an a way that it aligns with the beat AND reach an audience. We spend minutes, hours, days, YEARS doing this. Everyone is a nerd in their own way. It’s no longer segregated to the stereotypical gaming and comic book (for starters) fans and aficionados.
4: How has rap impacted your life? How do you incorporate it into your life?
By writing, recording, and practicing, I’m able to perform here and there! I also was able to set goals from short term (ie. Writing a verse) to longer term (ie. Releasing an EP) AND complete them! Following a project through to completion is something that I definitely strive for.
In terms of incorporating the practice of writing, I take my notebook everywhere so I’m always prepared for that stroke of inspiration. Also, both VR and I spend time after we get home to write together or work on our individual projects. Since our friends are either rappers or producers, he and I also host a monthly cypher night at our home for performance artists to get together, talk shop, and freestyle. Hilarity ensues HELLA.
5: Where do you want to take your music in the future?
I want to send my children to college with the money I make from music.
Also, I am a part of a collective known as The Rogues Gallery, an organization of artists in the Pacific-Northwest dedicated to creating community amongst artists and fans in our area. We do this through hosting shows, media, and promotion. If you are or will be in the Seattle area, look us up! We have our first event 11/23.
1: EXPLORE! How else are you going to know it’s for you?
2: DON’T QUIT. There are always going to be growing pains around whatever thing you’re a n00b to, but WHO CARES? Folks have to start somewhere. You get clowned on more for not sticking it out instead of putting your blinders on and persevering though your rough patches.
3: Surround yourself with like-minded people. I have the opportunity of having a fantastic support system in the form of my family and friends, many of whom are creative and artistic people. Search and create a community of creators and weed out the folks that are just along for the ride. They make better Facebook friends than folks you deal with IRL.
4: Know who you are. This sounds hella abstract, but check it – people will define you and justify it because it’s the only way they can reconcile who you are in relationship to what they already know. Be comfortable in your own skin because you will end up inspiring another person to grab a mic, who will in turn inspire another person, and pretty soon you will have become the catalyst to a movement of vocalists that are all so different, people will have to call you what you actually are – an emcee.
7: Favorite moment/memory involving music?
I demo’d my finished pieces to my grandmother in the hospital before she passed away. Two of the songs I rapped to her are on my mixtape. My content is always upsetting and downright offensive, but I’d like to think that regardless of that, she’s with me every time I hit the stage in approval and support.
Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Shubzilla debuted as and emcee during NerdcoreNow’s Vocalist/Producer Competition and also won the site’s 2011 Best Newcomer award. She recently released The Campaign Mixtape, available on bandcamp. Shubz wears many hats, including the PR Content Producer of GeekGirlCon and Public Relations and Treasurer for The Rogues Gallery. Links to her twitter and music sites are listed below:
Do you know a self-proclaimed nerd we should interview? If so, please contact Terra at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about them.