Smile Politely

Defining Indie Rock is so indie

The term ‘indie’ is dead in my book. While simply standing for “independent,” the term has been the victim of some serious overuse, to the extent where it is now nothing but a vague euphemism and has now taken on an entirely different meaning in the process.

It pains me to see the likes of Xiu Xiu and Girl Talk drawn huddled together underneath the lazy, compromising umbrella the word “indie.” It isn’t fair to anyone, especially the bands themselves, as classifying music as “indie” or something as “indie” doesn’t even remotely describe the art itself.

May I point out how many awesome bands are on major labels and independent labels alike? I thought this was common sense, I really did, but it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that many music listeners believe “being in the know” means liking what’s cool — “cool” here defined as what’s not popular. If it was just the music listeners themselves being affected by this kind of narrow-minded and utterly irresponsible classification, there wouldn’t be a problem.

People do what people do, and as long as they aren’t intentionally affecting others with their thoughts then you can’t place any blame anywhere. But it has come to my attention that it’s not only the music appreciators that this slothful decadence is affecting, but also the music seekers.

Suggestions and recommendations are very important resources to have when building up your personal music library. Almost everyone has taken a suggestion from someone at some time to check out a “totally awesome band that you just had to hear.” This is why it is so important for this term‘s usage to be eliminated, or at least severely lessened. The music appreciators, by describing a band as “indie,” are leaving bad tastes in the mouths of the interpretive, curious, open-minded seekers who are eager to broaden their horizons. Coining a single phrase to describe something is ridiculous; It only promotes the idea that “indie” music is all the same, encompassing the same messages of fuck the police, find your own path, and do what you please. This is simply not so.

I firmly stand by my belief that by proclaiming bands as “indie” to others, without further elaboration or without passing along the good advice of finding out for oneself what they think, they are sucking out the value of the subject in question and replacing this value with disrespect and apathy. This is the exact opposite of giving credit where credit is due, which is partly what you are doing when you even so much as listen to music.

Imagine yourself as an artist that blends tribal African percussion with power chords and intricate melodies and then finding yourself being compared to the Decemberists or Dizzee Rascal in discussions regarding what “this kind of music” stands for. It’s utterly ridiculous. And what is so scary about it is that so much of this happens on a subconscious level, without the appreciator (if you could even call them that…) or the seeker being aware that they are forming opinions of music when not even listening to it.

We should all appreciate music just for being there at all. Must we humans try to control everything by labeling it this and that in an effort to make things more intelligible? Even if it means sacrificing our dignity and respect for others?

I feel like some clarification was needed for those too embarrassed or uninterested to question what “indie” really has come to mean on and below the surface level.

God, being considerate is so indie.

No wonder “indie” music has come to stand for what it does. Nobody knows what the hell it means! When a band is popular at least it means easier access. It doesn’t matter that a lot of popular music is shallow and one-dimensional so long as it’s convenient. What if this kind of convenience was found among lesser-known artists? This would result in the masses being more able and more willing to expand their tastes. I’m talking about making the underground part of the ground we walk on and not just something explored by some and merely prodded occasionally by others.

I want to stress that I clearly see a line that some people are drawing between themselves and others; ones who listen consider themselves “indie” and ones who don’t. This line should be erased so that music doesn’t have to carry the weight of acting as both an aligner and divider of humanity.

To address this issue, we who have strong ties to the music we love and to mankind itself need to unite by being more detailed in our descriptions of the bands we like. Not only does this make it clearer to you as to why you like them, but it avoids any confusion that might arise. Realize that when you have a responsibility when communicating with others to express who you are and that what you say about a band may have an affect on how the person you are talking to in how they view a certain artist. First impressions are often the strongest impressions, so make it a good one… at least for the bands sake.

Just by trying to go into detail about so-and-so means you are helping eliminate the poisonous judgmental outlooks caused by over-simplification. Sound can be produced in extraordinary ways. The possibilities really are endless. Allow others to share the feelings you experience when listening to your favorite unknown bands not by spreading “the word” but by giving an accurate synopsis of what that band does for you to them instead.

I must say this will take a little flexing of the brain. This is a good thing of course, but maybe don’t start with Dan Deacon.

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