Gabriel Wilson of The ListeningWelcome back to The Blah Blah for another exciting week.  We’ve had some requests here that we do an “Intro to Indie Music” segment, so welcome, and please share your opinions as we move along.  As I seek to define “indie music,” I’m touching on a segment of the music industry that is very hard to define.  In fact, the definition seems to change depending on who you’re talking to, what era you’re referring to, and what mood you’re in that day.

What is indie music?  Who listens to it?  What does it sound like?  Is there really a difference from big label music?  Do you even dare find out the answers?

I first started getting into indie music a few years ago.  Probably the biggest factor in leading me to indie music (secular, not Christian) was the independent film arena, specifically the movie Garden State.  My wife and I watched that movie and we just loved it.  There’s drug use, premarital sex, tons of bad language, and other things that I can’t uphold, so don’t go out and watch it with your middle school youth group, but I loved the developing romance between Sam and Andrew in the movie.  And I loved the soundtrack.  I had never heard anything like it before.  Iron and Wine, Remy Zero, The Shins, Frou Frou, Colin Hay…  So I checked out the bands I liked and found other bands I liked equally well.

From there, every time my wife and I watched another independent film with a great soundtrack, I noted more artists I liked and found them on-line.  The great thing about independent films is that even Blockbuster carries the more popular ones.  We got most of ours at Hollywood Video off the dollar menu, but now with NetFlix and Blockbuster’s on-line program, you can get thousands of independent films that you’d never find at a local video store.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be posting 10 qualifications that I believe are necessary of indie music, and with those qualifications, I’ll post an mp3 or two from bands that exemplify that aspect.  Make sense?  Good.  Let’s begin.

Qualifications of Indie Music
1) It must be on an independent label

The first obvious qualification of indie music is that it must be on an independent label.  In reality, this is probably the only real qualification that needs to be there.  By nature, if you’re on an independent label or are unsigned, you’re an indie band.

According to Wikipedia, “In popular music, independent music, often abbreviated as indie, is a term used to describe genres, scenes, subcultures, styles and other cultural attributes in music, characterized by their independence from major commercial record labels…”  Indie music isn’t one style, one genre, one sound.  It can be rock, pop, hip hop, folk, acoustic, melodramatic, goth, metal… but it’s gotta be on an independent label.

For today’s MP3, check out a song by Oregon psychadelic rock group The Listening:
The Listening – Hosea in C Minor

Why did I pick The Listening for today’s qualification – being on an independent label?  Well, besides the fact that they are indeed on their own independent label (L-town Music), Gabriel Wilson, lead singer and guitarist for The Listening, has produced a number of albums for other artists with guitarist Chris Greely.  Known together as The Glitter Twins, the duo has shown a zeal for helping out other young indie bands any way they can through their label.  Good enough for me.

While being on an independent label is really all it takes to be indie, people don’t normally think of that local gospel choir that recorded a live album at church when they say “indie music.”  Come back tomorrow for more ideas on what makes music indie music.  And, please, share your opinions, whether you agree or disagree.

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