Nerd Revolt: A Pleasant Transgression

When I recently caught up with the iLL.F.O., one half of Nerd Revolt, she was kicking off a weekend of cat-sitting and seemed equally excited to have a chance to talk to a human as she was to indulge in a weekend with a feline friend.  Nerd Revolt is the iLL.F.O. on vocals, synths, and programming and m.0 doing synths and programming.  They are an electronic duo based in San Francisco… although the iLL.F.O. is, thus far, still largely unfamiliar with the city:

“We’ve only been here for a couple of years.  Most of the time we’ve been here we’ve been working on the album, so I’ve kind of been a hermit.  We went underground for 20 months, doing the album.  Approaching it was very daunting and intimidating. We had an EP released in 2010, but it was my first album ever.”

And as scary as the idea of writing and recording an entire album was for the iLL.F.O., she found it to be equally empowering: “It was very liberating for me.  I’ve always been very shy and a loner.”  (This is something you’d never know, based on her exceptionally bold and colourful style and the number of press photos that have her in nothing but a bikini.)  The (self-titled) album, which was released late this summer, rings of an interesting amalgamation of the history of electronic music.  It is very primally and erotically haunting.  Certain tracks would seem to call to the dance floor, but only for the evening’s slowest, steamiest, and haziest moments… It really is more suited for a sensuousnight of sinning.  However, a few songs do subtly recall Industrial at its lightest and most whimsical.

In addition to the album, the band have released a number of videos as well, which the iLL.F.O. found to be equally liberating: “We shot all our own videos.  They were just an extension of my self-expression.  It’s a really fun outlet for me.  I never got into that before.”  These videos range from minimalist punk political propaganda (“Breaking Free”); to the intimacy of the duo playing in their rehearsal space, amidst Kraftwerk T-shirts and Misfits posters (… Okay, so there was only one of each.) (“Couldn’t Steal My Fire”); to a piece with a Bergman-meets-midnight-movie aesthetic that has our heroine gracefully strolling through rocks and ruins as, what could be described as, a Spaceage Babydoll (“Twisted”).
While their debut just dropped earlier this year, the project has been in the works for about half a decade: “We met in Seattle in ’08 and just started hanging out and jamming on our synths.  But it didn’t really become concrete until we moved down here.”  And although the work of the iLL.F.O.(with m.0) is quite impressive, her self-proclaimed influences are likely the most profoundly moving thing about her craft: “For me, I love getting inspired by people with conviction and passion, people who go against the grain, people who trust themselves to challenge the masses.”