Welcome back to “Intro to Indie Music,” now on Day 6! Hope you enjoyed the links from Friday’s post (here). If you haven’t checked them out, make sure you do that.
This week will be week two of our introduction to indie music (Christian indie in particular), with Friday wrapping things up, so check back every day for more updates. If you’re just coming around, be sure to check out the previous posts. I think all of the MP3s are still available for download.
Alright I’m done stalling. Back to the list of what makes music “indie music!”
Characteristics of Indie Music
1) It must be on an independent label (see here)
2) It’s about the music (see here)
3) Lo-fi good, over-production bad (see here)
4) A do-it-yourself attitude (see here)
5) Pushing musical boundaries (see here)
and 6) An anti-materialistic attitude
Astute readers will notice I’ve changed it from “Qualifications of Indie Music” to “Characteristiscs of Indie Music.” This is because I have no idea what “qualifications of indie music” means and I always meant this list as “characteristics” of indie music anyway, but for some reason my brain couldn’t remember that umh… uh… word!
This sixth characteristic, that indie music tends to have an anti-materialistic attitude, makes sense because most indie artists aren’t making much money. If what they care about is the music, not stardom, and if they experiment with sounds that they like, not play what people want to hear, indie artists will just not make as much money. So it’s a good thing they’re usually not out to make it rich, because they probably won’t.
This attitude shows up in some groups more than others. Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou has adopted anti-materialism as a second religion (not literally… I think). You can read an interview with him here where he touches on it. He refuses to shower daily, does not use soap or hot water often, rarely washes his clothes, and eats from garbage cans to reduce waste and save money. Strangely enough, he also plans on remaining single his whole life. I think it might just work that way. Other groups give away T-shirts or albums for free. Some, like the Psalters, give away all their music for free (go here). Others use bio-diesel and speak against materialism. Others make their own clothes and refuse to eat at restaurants.
I downloaded both these songs for free from Happy Birthday Denison, and you can get them the same way, along with 31 other songs. These songs were all recorded in one sitting, with one microphone, one take, one instrument, one voice, and no editing. They’re a little lo-fi and you’ll hear some mistakes, which makes it fun.
The song “Little Flowers” above is about Jesus’ relationship with St. Francis. I first heard it on a promo video for The Invisible Children.
Why does Denison Witmer encapsulate the idea of an anti-materialistic attitude? He’s giving away 33 songs for free on-line for crying out loud! He makes all his income off of his music, yet he’s still giving away a bunch of songs for free. I’ll take that any day.
I’m not sure exactly where Denison Witmer is spiritually. In interviews, he’s mentioned that he grew up in a Christian home and some of that heritage carries over into his music. He is openly antagonistic toward the “Christian music industry” for its generally judgemental attitude and paranoia to label and define everything. But, heck, who isn’t a little annoyed with the Christian music industry?
In an interview here, he explains that he doesn’t like to talk about Christianity with people and he basically says that he no longer believes that Jesus is the only way but that we’re all headed to heaven no matter what lifestyle we live. He thinks most Christians are overly judgemental. Too bad, Denison. The Bible teaches us to judge what we see, not accept everything passively. The idea that everyone is going to heaven no matter their lifestyle is, obviously, a very unbiblical idea (see here, here, or here for examples). He seems to have a lot of doubts, questions, and confusion right now, so pray for him to be able to sort everything out.
Either way, some of his songs are encouraging, and if other outspoken heretics can be played on Christian radio (see here), then I think you can get something from Denison’s songs, even if he’s at a low point spiritually.
See you tomorrow for Part 7 of “Intro to Indie Music.” I hope to have a guest writer in to cover the next topic.
The Blah Blah – serving up the best in Christian music MP3s
Note: all MP3s will be removed after one week