It's 2019, and everything is good for Laser Malena-Webber.
Malena-Webber and sister Aubrey Turner, known as the Portland nerd duo The Doubleclicks, have a new album and a new tour that includes a trip to Europe, funded through yet another successful Kickstarter campaign. The Doubleclicks host the first Nerd Music Fest at Dante's, Saturday, July 27, welcoming three other top nerd bands and a deejay.
And Malena-Webber is feeling happy "and more myself" these days.
Malena-Webber transitioned to a nonbinary individual last year, a life change that comes full circle with one of the songs on the new album, a tribute to gender identity. It's called "I'm Winning," and animators who identify as nonbinary or transgender or both worked on the video project. It's about the "gender euphoria" felt by Malena-Webber, who now associates with pronouns they and them.
"It makes me so happy (Malena-Webber) could trust us to accept them and celebrate them for who they truly are," Turner said. "Everything clicked. It all made sense. The realization when it all came together — it made us all so happy for them."
Added Malena-Webber: "I've had a lot of fans, and new fans, tell me about their own experiences of coming out or not coming out."
It can only help business, too, because the siblings walk in the world of the all-accepting nerds, who know not to "dead-name" or "mis-gender" Malena-Webber. It's something that some people do with nonbinary folks and what they describe as "exhausting," and they question whether it's hate or transphobia or a simple mistake.
"We're able to weed that out, because we control spaces where we do our shows," Malena-Webber said. "We don't have to deal with people who are crappy because we need money."
Safe space allows for vulnerabilities, panic attacks and anxiety to be explored, they added. "We still make jokes about dinosaurs, but there are real emotions and identity issues (out there) and we get to cry with the audience and get involved."
Indeed, The Doubleclicks, now a performing act for eight years, have done well for themselves. "The Book Was Better," the most recent album, tells the story of the past two years — songs ranging from cats to anxiety, video games to superheroes, and the aforementioned gender identity. It was the duo's fourth album to debut on the Billboard Comedy chart in the spring, peaking at No. 1.
Five Kickstarter campaigns have helped finance The Doubleclicks since 2014, the latest one drawing $56,053 for the album and upcoming European tour. In addition, the group has raised more than $100,000 on Patreon for music videos.
Malena-Webber, in fact, serves as a crowdfunding coach for other bands that run Kickstarter campaigns, and they wrote a book, "Crowdfunding for Musicians," that comes out this fall from Berklee Press/Hal Leonard Publishing. Malena-Webber has worked on 15 campaigns, in addition to Doubleclicks' campaigns.
The previous album was about politics, and anger. "The Book Was Better" is more lighthearted and "we're trying to create space where people can recharge," Malena-Webber said.
"We definitely had the intention of making an album for people to feel good," Turner added.
The Doubleclicks, firmly grounded in the nerd music genre, played some United States dates, and eagerly look forward to their first trip to Europe in August — stops in Dublin, Leeds (England), London, Frankfurt and Munich. They hope to add shows in Amsterdam, Berlin and Vienna.
They'll certainly pack lightly. Aubrey plays the cello and Laser the guitar and ukulele.
"The biggest chore will be lugging around our amps," Turner said.
Added Malena-Webber: "It is a big thing. We're invited to the Worldcon in Dublin, and we're expecting to see a lot of folks there. We've always asked fans where they want us to go." The World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, takes place Aug. 15-19 in Dublin.
The siblings have seen their following build in the U.S. throughout the years. In January they played at San Francisco's Sketchfest, a big highlight.
Nerd music is a genre, although Billboard recognizes it as comedy. Computer geeks and comic book buffs fit into the category — basically anybody considered, well, nerdy.
"We define ourselves in that genre so we can connect with fans," Turner said.
Turner considers the Portland nerd community "very large" as evidenced by all the board game fanatics, comic book shops and success of Rose City Comic Con. "It's obviously ready to celebrate their nerd side," she said.
Playing in addition to The Doubleclicks are Portland bands PDX Broadsides and Megathruster, as well as Los Angeles band Library Bards and deejay Dread Pirate Rabbits.
Said Malena-Webber: "We kicked around the idea of doing a nerd festival, and that it be inclusive and feminist. There is man-powered nerd stuff, which is awesome, but we wanted to do our own thing. Hopefully it does well and we can make it bigger."
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