Here we are, on to Day 4 of our “Intro to Indie Music” series. I had everything planned on what I was going to do today (a post on Aaron Sprinkle), but it just didn’t seem right, so after talking to my wife, I thought, “Yeah, I’ll do Madison Greene,” but that just wasn’t meshing either. I didn’t know what to do, until just about an hour ago, I found Aimee Wilson.
So today’s post will be about her, but more on that later.
If you haven’t noticed, we’re in the middle of an introduction to Christian indie music here at The Blah Blah. It’s been fun, and I hope you’ve learned a ton of stuff. Check out my previous posts, parts 1 – 3, to get caught up. So what exactly makes indie music “indie?” Below is my ever-growing list of what I believe sets indie music apart from the rest…
and today’s qualification…
4) A do-it-yourself attitude
There is an all-pervading do-it-yourself attitude that runs through indie music. Whether it means the band members are willing to play any and every instrument needed for the song, or the band makes its own t-shirts and clothing, or they design their own album, or they do all the recording / mixing / producing on their own, or they handle all booking by themselves, or they have no road crew, there is a general sense of “Thanks, but we’d rather do it by ourselves.”
For major labels, some groups hold this attitude, but it’s not as prevailing as in indie labels. A lot of major label bands have road crews that move the heavy stuff, stage managers who figure out the stage layout, sound engineers who make a good record, producers who pull the album together, graphic designers who design album covers and t-shirts, and promoters who get the band gigs.
The general feel in indie music is that if the band can do it by themselves, they probably will. Part of the reason for this is just that they have to do everything. Most bands can’t afford road crews or promoters, so by default they take it upon themselves. But partly, I think, indie artists like the idea that they can keep total control over their music and stay more in touch with their fans.
Some bands carry more of this attitude than others. Some will hire somebody to record their album, while others will just do it all themselves. Some will get a company to design and print t-shirts for them, while others knit their own sweaters to sell. It all depends on the band’s personal preference.
Aimee Wilson, Chattanooga singer / writer / activist / humanitarian, is the founder of the Porchfront Factory, according to their website, a “non-profit assembly of musicians, artists, gypsies, wire-framers, writers, gardeners and more that want to give the glory in all they are and do. This in itself, we know is impossible, because we’re humans, made of flesh and too weak to bear God. But it is in the very emptying of ourselves through friendship, labor, knowledge, servitude and prayer that the vocation of the factory is made manifest. And that vocation is simply to live what we believe out. To us, there is no separation between belief and life.”
If you have time, read their “Why We Need to Eat” manifesto. It’s long and super-intellectual, a real trip, but it’s fun. I don’t agree with everything in it, but I thought this was really cool:
[The Porchfront Factory] is a community that does not live for the sake of community, nor does it welcome art for the sake of art. All work that is made from within and offered to the factory is set out for the one sake of glorifying God; a coming together not to investigate how, where, and why we must live and do what we do, but Who must be and is glorified ine very movement of our being. Really, all this place is is a bunch of people trying to live and use their lives for a reality beyond themselves.
The website is a little cryptic about their beliefs, but if you dig into the symbolism, poetry, and mystery, you’ll find that Aimee Wilson worships Jesus and desires to give Him all the glory through music, art, photography, essays, poems, and other hand-made items. Going with the do-it-yourself attitude, she designed and updates the website herself, wrote their manifesto, handles booking inquiries, records albums through the Factory, and promotes all sorts of hand-made items and art. Heck, you can’t even buy her MP3s on iTunes or her album on Amazon. The only way to do it is to send a check written out to her personally. Pretty cool.
Indie bands like to do it on their own. Nuff said. Come back tomorrow for #5 in my list of ten things that make indie music indie.
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