Marian Call On Geeks, Typewriters, a Dead Cat

Hailing from Alaska, singer-songwriter

Marian Call

is one odd duck.

With songs that feature themes prevalent to geek culture (technology, science fiction, etc.), Call has cultivated a dedicated worldwide fan base. Her soon to be released double album Something Fierce was completed funded by donations from her devoted following. Call mixes folk and experimental music with a devilish sense of humor to produce songs like "100 Easy Ways to Lose a Man" and "I'll Still be a Geek After Nobody Thinks it's Chic."

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that she's influenced greatly by the television programs Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, coming across as a likable but fairly wacky little songstress who might be too talented for her own good. Speaking from a studio in Austin and in anticipation of Tuesday's performance at Poor David's Pub, Call spoke to DC9 about, among other things, what it takes to be a geek and some of her unusual choices for instrumentation.

Check out our interview with Call after the jump.

How big of a geek are you?

I was just at Comic-Con for four days. I guess that makes me pretty geeky.

You seem fairly hip. Are you too cool to be a geek?

No, I spend my free time arguing about Star Wars. I may not present myself as a geek necessarily, but I am always around geeky people doing geeky things.

When you first started, you wanted to write film scores. Do you still feel that way?

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I started out wanting to do that when I was very young. I didn't know of any other options for me to make music. I gradually learned that I could make the kind of music I wanted to make without finding an outlet like film. When I first started, I wasn't very comfortable making music in front of people, but I am very comfortable with that now.

Why did you move to Alaska?

I wanted to move to Seattle, New York or L.A., but I was married at the time and the only place my husband could find work was Alaska. I moved there very unwillingly. I didn't think there was anything for me to do. I had just gotten my degree in music and I thought there would not be a job for me in Alaska. I ended up in food service and that turned out to be one of the greatest jobs I ever had. It taught me a lot. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was exposed to many different kinds of music that I had not listened to. I was into orchestral and choral music and then I heard so much folk and rock music. Alaska is so community oriented and the people were so nice to me. Alaska just does something to you.

How would your music be different if the television shows Firefly and Battlestar Galactica did not exist?

I would have found other aspects of culture to incorporate into my music. In the past, I've written about Shakespeare, Jane Austen and various political events. I would still be into alternative music. I think people would still enjoy it.

Are you a fan of Star Trek?

Absolutely, Next Generation primarily.

How did you come to use a typewriter in your music?

When I recorded my first album Vanilla I specifically wanted the sound of a typewriter. I think that sound helps express what kind of a geek I am. I am more of a literature geek and a word nerd. I think the typewriter kind of shows what kind of person I am. I put it in one song and kind of forgot about it. But then people started writing me, asking me what happened to the typewriter. They liked it. They wanted me to use it in the show. So, I invested in a typewriter that I really love.

You say there are two types of geeks?

I think there are actually a million different kinds of geeks. There are as many kinds as there are people. I hear people sometimes testing each other out. They say things like, "So you like Firefly and Star Trek, but do you like Dr. Who?" I don't think we need to necessarily dictate geek standards. If you talk to someone for fifteen or twenty minutes, you will know if they are a geek or not.

Do you also use a tin that contains the remains of a dead cat as a percussion instrument?

That's Zippy. He is my cat. You can hear him on all of my records and he comes on tour with me. I don't always play him at my shows, but you can find him by my side. He's been all over the world.

That's not geeky. That's just perverse.

Yes, it's kind of weird and dark. I don't lead with that, usually.

Being from Alaska, are you going to write any songs about Sarah Palin?


Marian Call performs Tuesday, August 2, at Poor David's Pub

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