I’m on semi-hiatus — laziness always hits me around this time of year — but I just read an excellent and thought-provoking article at Moistworks. Now those lads at MW are always writing great stuff, which most of you know. And this one is about indie, or should I say, “indie,” and whether it’s now viewed as an ideology, or an aesthetic. By which I mean, does indie still mean “independent, stays off the major labels, doesn’t sell out, has a certain set of musical rules” or does it mean, “a label slapped onto a genre of music by radio stations and corporations who want to evoke a certain sense of rebelliousness where there really is none”?
My opinion is that the former has morphed over the years into the latter. This has happened to multiple genres, and it has to do with money, the passage of time, and youthful elitism fading as proponents get older. But all you have to do is wander over to the hype machine and check out what kind of blogs call themselves “indie” blogs to realize that current indie music is everything from radio-friendly mainstream rock (Radiohead) to folk country (Rocky V.) to alt-country (Old 97s) to shoegaze (Xiu Xiu) to lit-rock (Decemberists) to electronic dance (Ladytron). They all now shelter under the friendly umbrella of the indie aesthetic.
Is this bad? To some folks, especially those who remember the days of the indie tenets fondly, yes. In my opinion … no, but I have never really been tied to any genre philosophy. Whatever the music I like is called, I will keep listening to it, as I have done my whole life. Major label? Fine. Heard on a commercial or TV show? Great. CD handed to me on the street at Mann’s Chinese? All righty then. I just like music and I really don’t care what it’s called or where it comes from. My favorite comment on the Moistworks post came from a fella named Ben, who says: I’d add only that how something is discovered might not matter as much as the fact that is it discovered. On with the discovery.