JT Music is a two-man group creating Nerdcore music. The members, Christian and John, or by their online monikers Skull and Pat, hail from Maine where they grew up down the street from one another. They started JT Music accidentally when they created their first music video “The Greatest Ever” as teenagers and posted it online to share with friends and family. The video became viral and the duo doubled down on creating songs about video games from there.
Now, nearly 14 years later, the two are still creating multiple nerdcore songs a month. Topics range from movies and TV shows to video games.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?
Just messing around with Garageband and making goofy songs with friends is really the inception of all this. Heck, that’s what our first “official” video was itself with "The Greatest Ever." But musically speaking, our inspirations are Eminem, Jedi Mind Tricks, and Timbaland to name a few. There’s also a background in musical theater that has a general influence on some of our projects as well.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?
Eclectic would be the best word for it. We’re making, at minimum, 24 songs a year (sometimes 36+) and they’re all based on different nerdy properties. Because of this, we like to keep things thematic and true to the topic material. We’ve had pop songs, ballads, musicals, alternative rock style songs, you name it. And then on top of that, we sometimes infuse elements of genres into more hip hop-styled beats for our raps.
WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?
In our early thirties now, the honest truth is because it’s our job. BUT, it’s also the best job in the world (so we think) and so it’s still full of passion and enjoyment. Success for us is being happy with what we made and not burning ourselves out in the process of it. Keeping up regular content and being relevant in the YouTube algorithm is a trying feat.
THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?
First and foremost, it’s each other. In our space, most independent YouTube musicians are on their own. They have to do everything from the music to running a business. We’ve been able to have the division of labor. But more importantly, we have one another to keep each other sane. Our families have always been extremely supportive and all those who we share our lives with closely. It’s humbling how much those closest to us are our biggest fans in their own right.
Musically, support has come from fellow creators in the nerdcore space. It’s been a very welcoming and loving community. Everyone is an open book and constantly shares their development and techniques with one another. Rockit Music and Fabvl have particularly been great friends in the space in our production journey.
Brand and business-wise, we’ve had big support from John’s father, who, in 2008, had already realized the potential of creating something cool in a niche. He still let us do our thing, make our mistakes, but he kept us focused in his own way. Additionally, fellow creators in the online and marketing world who were super great mentors in Ross Patterson, Tony Schnur, and Josh Harcus.
SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?
It’s hard to say. We’ve always seen ourselves and continue to see ourselves as just regular guys. Our perspective has been pretty well in check in a manner of speaking. However, that’s not to say being overwhelmed has not happened. The grind, particularly the YouTube grind to please the algorithm, is extremely taxing. Fully producing songs sometimes weekly is, plainly, a lot. You stack that year over year and the pressure and wear only stacks. The burnout took its toll after many, many years finally around 2020. In some ways that was a blessing, because it allowed us to re-evaluate our relationship with the content and build a healthier relationship with it.
To translate that to a tip: Take care of yourself first, you’re likely putting more pressure on yourself than what you think the outside world is putting on you.
THE WORLD OF VIDEO GAMES AND THE MUSIC INVOLVED ISN'T AS WIDELY KNOWN OR TALKED ABOUT AS THE CHART-TOPPING HITS DO, BUT THE FEW CREATORS WE'VE TALKED TO HAVE SHARED JUST HOW FULFILLING IT IS TO EITHER BUILD OUT A CHARACTER OR SET THE TONE FOR A NEW WORLD. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BEST MOMENTS YOU'VE HAD IN CREATING MUSIC FOR VIDEO GAMES, AND WHAT ARE SOME COMMON OBSTACLES YOU ENCOUNTER?
It’s certainly fulfilling for exploring worlds, settings, and properties that we are mega passionate about. The video game series, Halo and Bioshock are prime examples of this. It’s fun to take something you love and add to it in a sense. It’s extra cool to then share that music video with others in the online community who are just as passionate about these topics.
Time and time again, we hear a version of this revelation: “Oh, your stuff is actually pretty good.” To us, that translates to not being taken seriously because it’s video game music made by “YouTubers.” That would probably be the biggest obstacle itself, the preconceived notion that this stuff cannot possibly be “good.” A lot of people in the nerdcore space are doing their best to buck that notion very outwardly, but we ourselves aren’t too, too concerned about it. Our frustration on that mainly derives from any lack of cool opportunities or relationships that could have been made without that false notion.
However, things are changing as nerdom and nerdy properties are becoming overwhelmingly what is cool in popular culture. It’ll be interesting to see how nerdcore grows!
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?
Stealing from Nike, just do it. So many people get caught up in the how and what hardware or software they need. They bottleneck themselves with things that they think will enable them to create.
In the end, the only thing you need is yourself and your drive. The rest catches up and you acquire the talents, the tools you need, and general knowledge. That’s our experience and knowledge we can pass down and do on a daily basis when our audience reaches out for “tips” and “advice.” Work hard and do it because you love it. In the end, you’ll always win even if it doesn’t take off.
WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS, INSPIRES, OR MOTIVATES YOU?
We don’t necessarily have a specific quote or mantra, but the idea that this is the best job we’ll ever have and that we love what we’ve built is enough to keep us going to preserve that.
FOR FUN, IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND AND COULD ONLY HAVE (3) ITEMS WITH YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU BRING?
Probably something for water collecting and treatment, a fishing rod, and a waterproof canopy. But the fun answer is a Chipotle restaurant, a Smart TV, and an iPad. We’ll be entertained and fed for a while that way.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP NEXT?
We’re creating a music video at a bi-weekly rate, so we’re constantly working on a new music video for whatever is coming out next. Songs for the Cuphead and Halo TV shows are next on the docket. We also throw an annual concert series that is a mini music festival of sorts featuring a ton of nerdcore artists. It’s called Nerdcore Party Con and will be a 2-day event in Chicago in August!
HOW DID YOU COME TO SONGTRUST?
Probably too late. We aren’t industry professionals or have the education in the music industry to know all the ins and outs. We’ve acquired knowledge as things go on, but publishing was one of the things that escaped us (and still does for a lot of online independent artists). It was put on our radar from some inquiries from industry folk and from there we did our research and consulted with our lawyers. Songtrust came into the conversation and it seemed to fit our wants and needs while also being approachable and easy to use as laymen. I swear that’s not a marketing pitch, just how it all went down.
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