Errol stalks geek musicians on twitter and he came across Hello, The Future as he was following links from other geek musicians. He chatted away to her as he does to almost everyone that runs into his Sphere of Engagement and, much to Errol’s delight, she responded back. A few months ago, Errol and Nerds with Guitars did a google hangout with her as they asked advice on the geek music industry. She later wrote a blog post about it which you should read if you aspire to become the next musical, nerd wonder!
Name: Nicole Dieker (the only member of the band Hello, The Future!)
Instruments: Voice, guitar, ukulele, piano, melodica, stylophone, handclaps.
Location: Los Angeles for two more months.
Year Formed: 2010
Favourite Fandom: Game of Thrones
What is your geek origin story?
I don’t ever remember not being a geek. My parents gave me a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass when I was two years old and I used it to learn how to play chess. I was the typical know-it-all geek when I was a kid and I eventually – thankfully – grew out of it.
Can you tell us a little about your musical background/training?
I come from a family of musicians, so I learned how to read music when I learned how to read words. My mom teaches piano, so she started me when I was very young and I kept at it all the way through college, ending up with a music degree.
Of course, the problem was that I liked pop music and nerd music and musical theatre way too much to ever be a “serious classical musician.”
You started off doing a song a week on YouTube for 100 weeks! Completing that is amazing! What motivated you?
I saw other people like Jonathan Coulton and the Vlogbrothers doing time-based creative projects and I wanted to try one. Also I knew that if I committed to this project, I would come out on the other end a changed person. That is one of the secret reasons why I called my project (and, eventually, my band) Hello, The Future!
We’re always interested in other artists’ creative process. Talk to us about yours!
Write quickly, revise and necessary, move on. 🙂
Doing a song-a-week project is a great way to learn how to write and produce creatively, and I recommend it (or a similar project) for anyone who is having trouble seeing a creative idea through to fruition.
Having regular mandatory deadlines forces you to work within your range and not become so attached to your material that you never want to let it go.
It also means you have to practice nearly every day, which is essential for any kind of creative work.
On Twitter and your blog, you post weekly updates about your earnings and the status of your inbox. Could you tell us why?
I wanted to be absolutely transparent about how much money an indie musician could make. I wanted everyone to know how many shows I was playing, how far I was traveling, and how much money I was making off music/merch sales as compared to my other work as a freelance writer.
Turns out it’s about 70-30 at this point; my freelance writing accounts for about 60% of my income while my music comes in at 30%.
I don’t know how my music revenues come in as compared to other artists; I suspect I’m somewhere in the middle. Very few musicians make money on music/merch sales alone. This, however, is one of the great fictions of independent musicianry: that if you want to be a musician, you need to be * only* a musician in order to be a “real artist.”
So that’s why I started posting income statements online.
On the other hand, I send out the “Inbox Zero!!!!” posts because I practice Getting Things Done, which I highly recommend. 🙂
You were the executive producer and project manager for the charity album Mink Car Cover, to benefit the FNDY Foundation. It included contributions from Marian Call, The Doubleclicks. Storm of Paul and Storm, and Molly Lewis. What was that process like?
It was absolutely amazing. One of those things where you have a huge, crazy idea and then somehow you actually make it work.
Everyone involved was of course fantastic and awesome, because I only work with awesome people.
What is your most memorable encounter with another geek artist?
Any crazy/awesome fan stories to share?
After I wrote the song Paper Cranes, which is about trying to forgive someone who dumped me (but secretly wanting to ruin his year by spoiling Game of Thrones Season 3 before he gets to see it), a lot of fans started giving me paper cranes. One person even gave me a lamp shaped like a paper crane. It’s awesome that people pay attention to my song lyrics and show up to concerts with song-related material.
(Paper cranes are also a great gift because they are small and easily stored. I would advise against giving me a giant robot.)
Do you have a favourite song to perform live?
Questionable Content Girl is still one of my favorites. It has a great setup, a bit of audience participation, and a few jokes that always land well. Also, it’s about Jeph Jacques’ Questionable Content.
Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
Giant Robot Album releases on June 25. I recommend getting that album and learning all my secrets. It’s a true-story album, unlike many of my other songs (I am not, for example, a dinosaur with feelings).
After that we are going to finish up the Kickstarter with a Giant Robot Album music video and a Firefly EP.
Errol wants to know: favourite adventure game. 😀
Are we talking text adventures? In that case: Hitchhiker’s Guide, of course. I first played that game with my dad when I was very, very young. We died every single time. I don’t think we knew how to get past the bulldozer without dying.
Then when I was a teenager I got the full set of Infocom games for Christmas and I finally beat Hitchhiker. Good thing I remembered to pick up the screwdriver!
Hello, The Future! writes songs on topics that span all manner of geekery including Firefly, Homestar Runner and giant robots. She also vlogs on topics like creativity, workflow, science and skepticism. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr. You can also check out her website at Hello-The-Future.net. Her upcoming album, Giant Robot Album, is available for preorder on her Bandcamp page.