Thanks for coming back for day two of our “Intro to Indie Music” segment here at The Blah Blah.
I’ve been looking at the world of indie music this week, with an emphasis on the Christian side of things, trying to answer the question ” What is indie music?” Please offer your opinions and input, because I’m working through it as well. I’ve got ideas and theories, and I’m more than happy to share them, but I’d like to hear what all you readers think qualifies as “indie music.”
I got married just over three years ago, and one of the things I found out about my new wife that I never knew beforehand was that she was a DJ for a college radio station and had a vast knowledge of indie music and classic rock (go figure). Spurred on by her desire to find music that was better than the average Christian radio stuff, I delved into the realms of indie music. After talking to friends, searching MySpace, and watching Little Miss Sunshine, I found my first real Christian indie artist – Sufjan Stevens.
For those of you familiar with the indie scene, you’re probably wondering what took me so long to find him, considering his name is out there more than any other indie artist in existence. I have no witty remarks about that.
After finding Sufjan Stevens, I became excited about the undiscovered depths of Christian indie music and soon found other artists with names like mewithoutYou, The Ragbirds, Denison Witmer, Danielson Famile, The Listening, Page France, The Violet Burning, Wovenhand, Ben and Vesper, Don Chaffer, Jeremy Enigk, Village Thrift, Jesse Sprinkle, The Innocence Mission, Joshua Clubb, Soul Junk, The Corbans… Some good, others amazing. (OK, and I weeded through a lot of junk too.)
Anyway, let’s get back to the list of what makes indie music indie. Yesterday, I gave you #1, that the group has to be on an independent label. Today, I give you #2…
Qualifications of Indie Music
1) It must be on an independent label
2) It’s about the music
Yeah, I know this is totally retarded. “What’s indie music?” you ask. “It’s about the music,” I say. “Yeah, but don’t all bands play music?” you ask a second time. “Yes, but indie music is about the music.”
For indie bands, the emphasis is on the music above all else. Sometimes musicians entertain, but it is not about entertainment. Sometimes their songs soothe, but it is not about therapy. Sometimes their music tells a story, but it is not about telling stories. It is about the music, pure and simple.
The music itself is the focus, not the person on stage, the words to the songs, the energy of the mosh pit, the rising stardom of the band, the profits gained at the venue…
The most successful indie band is not necessarily the one with the biggest following, the most record deals, the biggest revenue, or the most plays on radio. A successful indie band is the one that follows its vision for the music, plays its heart out, and loves every minute of it, regardless of whether anybody else catches on or not.
Indie bands are like the minor league pitcher who just plays because he loves the game, not because he’s raking in the millions. It’s about baseball for him, not the cash, the fame, the exercise, or anything else.
Why did I pick Foxhole to exemplify the idea that indie groups are about the music above all else? They’re an instrumental band, for starters. Not only do they downplay words, they get rid of words completely. No lyrics, no stories, no lead singer with a charismatic rock-star personality. And no fans. Ha ha, just kidding, but, really, how many people do you know who are really into instrumental bands? They’ll probably never get played on the radio, may never play a big arena, and might be broke most of their lives, but they play their hearts out and come up with some insanely creative things in their songs.
Return again tomorrow for more on what it takes to be an indie band. And let me know your thoughts.
The Blah Blah – serving up the best in Christian music MP3s… until the end of time!
Note: all MP3s will be removed after one week