Level Up: Seven Musicians With Geeky Backgrounds

Say what you will about our sustainability, the heat, or our wretched politicos, but Phoenix is a haven for nerds. We have The Minibosses, who play heavy covers from video games like Super Mario Bros. and Double Dragon; and Mega Ran, who raps over Final Fantasy and Mega Man soundtracks. Both are totally awesome.

I may not participate in cosplay (though I could totally pull off Vanille's look), but I do make a point to replay Final Fantasy VII and IX at least once a year. I may have never fully gotten into the whole anime thing, but I still have a penchant for Hayao Miyazaki.

The point is: Deep down there's a little geek in all of us, so we can all revel in these seven musicians that arose from nerdy sources and are fully badass.

Nobuo Uematsu

He is the man responsible for the majority of the Final Fantasy soundtracks, and by that, I mean all of the good ones. That's a big franchise...he's written a song for just about every human emotion imaginable.

To set the scene, you're traveling the world with a band of misfits that are living in exile. This includes the princess, who sees her mother working with an arms dealer (oh noes!) and a stone cold female knight that's about to beat your party to a pulp in the pouring rain.

Later on, you find out that she was just fighting for her country and actually has human emotions after all. She ends up having the hots for the clumsy, loudmouthed knight in your party and is as willing to confront her feelings as a 14-year-old emo boy.

The Black Mages

Uematsu is back, only now he has replaced piano and orchestral songs with progressive metal licks.

Final Fantasy VII boss battles would have been a touch more epic with The Black Mages at the helm.

Owen Pallett

The violinist/singer responsible for hilariously named, yet beautiful albums like He Poos Clouds started out as Final Fantasy, but eventually changed his name to avoid confusion with the video game series.

The Pillows

FLCL was great for a number of reasons-- it was weird, depraved, and hilarious all at once. Over a decade later, Haruko is still cool. I am a-okay with guys being conditioned to find kooky female bassists attractive.

Though short lived, FLCL's random and entertaining plot was matched with a fantastic soundtrack from The Pillows, a J-Rock band. To date, "Ride on Shooting Star" is still the group's only US single.

The Seatbelts

The A.V. Club included Cowboy Bebop on its list of "Gateways to Geekery: Anime" and that's the best description I've read of the show. Bebop appealed to people that weren't that into anime (like myself) with its fantastic plot and '60s counterculture and film noir influences. Plus, every episode was either named after a classic rock song or paid homage to Jean-Luc Godard. The series may not have actually played The Rolling Stones, but The Seatbelts provided plenty of jazzy entertainment throughout the show.

Team Teamwork

If you're a fan of rap and classic RPGs, records like The Ocarina of Rhyme and Vinyl Fantasy 7 speak for themselves.

Oh, and there's Big Boi and Super Metroid as well.

MC Chris

Sure, his high-pitched voice is a bit of a...we'll say acquired taste, but any Star Wars or Kevin Smith fan will smile when they hear about Boba Fett's 'Vette.

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Melissa Fossum
Contact: Melissa Fossum