Portland, Ore., hub of hipster culture, microbrewery capitol of the Pacific Northwest and home of the Doubleclicks, America’s nerdiest female musical duo. Folky and fun, this two-sister outfit makes music mainly for their geeky adult counterparts, but like They Might Be Giants, those tunes could easily translate to kids. Better yet, last year, they released a kid’s album.
Nerdy With Children recently spoke with Anglea Webber about writing for kids, what it means to be a nerd and who is geekier: her or her sister, Aubrey.
Nerdy With Children: How did all of this nerdy music get started?
Webber: As sisters, we’ve been making music together for most of our lives, but we didn’t start songwriting and playing together on our own until 2009. We started writing our own music, combining my strange humorous poetry with Aubrey’s musical mind and cello playing. We played our songs at songwriter open-mic nights in Portland, and then, through Twitter and YouTube, met up with awesome musicians with big nerdy audiences.
The Doubleclicks was officially formed in the very beginning of 2011, with a six-month project in which we released a new song on YouTube every week. In 2012, we released our first studio album. And the rest, as they say, is history, heavily documented on the Internet. Recently we’ve been playing many live concerts at game stores, in-houses and at conventions. And if anyone wants to hear our music or find out about our upcoming shows, they can visit our website: thedoubleclicks.com.
NWC: What does your songwriting focus on?
Webber: We write songs about topics that inspire us – and as geeky people, we tend to lean toward geeky topics, like “Jane Austen”
and what would be the “Worst Superpower Ever.”
NWC: Which one of you is the smarter sister? Which one of you is nerdier?
Webber: [Laughs.] I hope you don’t compare your kids like this! It’s really easy to want to compare two people when they are in a duo — musical or otherwise — but after being sisters for our entire lives, we’ve learned that’s not a smart or necessary thing to do, especially not in writing. We love making music together and have lots of fun. We’re both very different and very similar – and you can pick up on a lot of that from our YouTube videos and our live show.
NWC: Define “nerdy.” And is Portland more hipster or nerdy … or are the two the same?
Webber: Unapologetic enthusiasm is one of the defining features of geekery. You can be a nerd about anything, and you can be a geek in a bunch of different ways. Portland is great because it is full of lots of unapologetically enthusiastic and weird people. It is very nice to live in this place where people are unapologetically strange — and whether you call these weirdos geeks or hipsters, we definitely enjoy living here.
NWC: What are your considerations when crafting kids songs? Is you approach different for more adult oriented material?
Webber: Music was very important to us as kids. Every weekend, we listened to a kid’s show on a college radio station in Boston, and that developed our love for catchy, funny music. When we started writing our own songs, without intending to make “kid’s music,” we wrote songs in this similar style.
People started playing our music for their kids, nieces, and nephew, especially the animated music video for our Dungeons & Dragons love song. Some of those songs, though, had adult themes and words. We decided, then, when we released our first studio album “Chainmail and Cello,” that we would create alternate versions of some of our songs that would be appropriate to share with kids, and released those on a CD called “Worst Superpower Ever.”
This CD also includes a couple of songs – “Uncle Geek’s House” and “A Lullaby for Mr. Bear,” that we wrote specifically with an audience of kids in mind. We think the big thing that separates a “kid’s song” from a “non-kid’s song” is that it is very accessible: It tells a clear story and has a catchy melody. Those are characteristics most of our songs already have, so we just need to keep them clean, and it all works out.
NWC: Answer this any way you see fit: How many nerds does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Webber: Only one, but the manner in which they do it would depends on what kind of nerd they are.