John Maus is an American musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and philosopher from Minnesota. His music is often compared to 1980s synth-pop due to its appropriation of vintage synthesizer sounds and Medieval church modes, and he is recognized as a forerunner to the late 2000s hypnagogic pop movement. He is also a former professor of philosophy at the University of Hawaii, where he later earned his PhD in political science. In 1998, Maus left his hometown of Austin, Minnesota to study experimental music at the California Institute of the Arts. When he befriended and began to work alongside classmate Ariel Rosenberg (Ariel Pink), he took a greater interest in pop music. Much of his initial lo-fi work was created using a cassette multi-track recorder and an early 1990s synthesizer soundbank. It was not until the success of his third album, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (2011), that he grew more widely accepted as an outsider artist. On stage, he is known for his intense displays of emotion while performing.