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How to Be a Shy Beast

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Meet the musician whose alter ego amplifies her performances.

By Chelsea Pribble, Photos by Taylor Camarot, Dorothy Bennett and Robert H Lewallen IV

With electrifying moves and crisp vocals that ignite the stage, Mariclaire Glaeser proves that being an introvert and being a rock star are not mutually exclusive. Glaeser artfully fronts the five-piece electro-pop band Shy Beast. In search of an alter ego to inject boldness into Glaeser’s performance and sound, the band changed its name in 2017 after a three-year stint as MCG. Since then, Glaeser has continued to add vibrancy to the Austin music scene while wearing sharp suits and an untamed confidence.  

“In the beginning, it was more of an alter ego and now it’s just me,” she says.

As a 2018 Black Fret nominee, the sonically expansive band is soaring to the top of the local scene with its sights set on beyond. This summer, Shy Beast is in the studio recording three new songs with release shows set for the fall and spring. Glaeser is still writing as well.

“When you’re in the studio, it’s easy to just settle in but you always need something in your back pocket,” Glaeser says.

In the upcoming year, expect to see Glaeser in more tailored suits lined with neon wire and sets embellished with diamond lights.

Although Glaeser has emerged as a talented and unapologetic musician, she also remains honest and humbled by her struggles as an introverted frontwoman. Shy Beast’s song “Back with Me” opens with the lyrics “How many times have I said I’m sorry,” and speaks to the issues she faced when starting the band.

“I had never led my own band practice and it was kind of a tragedy. I was so shy. Everything was, ‘I’m sorry,’ ” she recalls.

From leading band practices to finding the delicate balance of asserting her ideas and collaborating with expert-level bandmates, Glaeser has found her stride and carries a wealth of knowledge.

“I just started making choices. Once you give yourself parameters, freedom and artistic direction emerge,” she says.     

Austin Woman asked Glaeser to share five tips for overcoming shyness as a performer.

Introduce yourself to the person running sound.

“The comfort onstage starts during a line check or sound check, so introduce yourself and shake their hand,” Glaeser says. “It’s not the end of the world to ask four times for more volume.”

Glaeser advises that establishing yourself as an equal while being gracious makes it easier to ask for things without apologizing. Ultimately, carrying timidness into your sound check can transfer into your performance.

Assume an alter ego.

“Give yourself the liberty to adopt a new set of ways of being onstage,” Glaeser says. “The best moments I have are when I make a really random decision onstage to the point of no return.”

Stepping away from your normal behavior and becoming something different—sans the pressure to please everyone else—can make a live performance thrilling. When you get lost in the moment and have fun, it gives the crowd permission to relax.

“That’s why I love playing live shows. I love surprising myself,” she says.  

Get angry.

Glaeser’s dance teacher, Kathy Dunn Hamrick, told her to get angry before performing and sweat all over the stage.

“I really do get angry right before I go onstage,” Glaeser says. “I struggle with doubt and worry about what people will think, but you kind of have to ferociously beat those things to a pulp in order to turn that into raw performance energy.”

Carry the beast offstage.

The show might be done but the beast should live on. After realizing she was in the habit of turning to her bandmates with self-deprecating remarks, Glaeser changed her ways. She makes a conscious effort to stay positive and congratulate her band for a great show.   

“Never be satisfied, but also get in the habit of being proud of yourself right after your show,” she says. “You have to keep the dream alive until you get home, and then still try not to beat yourself up about it.”

Create rituals that work for you.

The leading lady also sticks to rituals to minimize stress before shows. Glaeser limits outfit choices and time to get ready, practices before a set, even if she had a show the night before, doesn’t eat immediately before she plays and excuses herself from people to prepare.

“Now my choices before a show are what suit am I going to wear, whereas before, it took me so long to get ready for a show,” she says. “If you give yourself structure and limit your choices, it will make your mind so much more relaxed. Figure out what you need then try to do the same sorts of things every time.”

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