Indie music

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The setup. From McFly The Tramp's fb page.
The setup. From McFly The Tramp’s fb page.

Indie music has been mostly uncharted territory for me until of late. As mentioned before, I was requested to post an announcement of some gigs a former colleague of mine was having with his group. I also attended one of them and these are my thoughts about it and the indie music phenomenon in general.

The term “indie music” is short for “independent music”; i.e. it’s not a musical genre but basically divides the world of recorded, or produced, music into productions of major labels and indie productions. However, there’s of course also a middle ground with many vital record labels not big enough to be called major but with significantly more resources than the indie labels.

Musically, thus, anything could be called “indie” unless it’s listed in a major label’s catalogue. Interestingly, however, the term, in my view, is mostly used by some rock and pop acts who mostly also musically don’t quite fit into the mainstream, or more conventional, genre categories. It seems to me, that for some indie artists this categorisation is also a matter of choice, perhaps even a statement. Not in the sense that they would actually “choose” not to sign up with a major label – as it’s most often not a choice many will have – but that the “indie” label grants them certain status in terms of their artistic freedom.

McFly The Tramp and XAD at the Last Waterhole, Amsterdam

McFly The Tramp is an experimental indie pop project of the Sicilian singer Francesca Laneri. The experimental part, I think, is the combination of sequences created on a computer and live singing and playing. I find this kind of combinations intriguing, especially if they’re complementary to each other like here; i.e. the sounds from the laptop do not provide a mere play-along track for the singer, but she’s taking advantage of the sound manipulation technologies at her disposal to create, and perform, music that isn’t otherwise possible – or at least rather tedious to make.

The song starts at 1″20′.

Wednesday evenings at the Waterhole feature a funk jam, which was probably why the performances of the above-named bands that evening were quite short. The turn out wasn’t huge, but even more enthusiast. I find admirable the amount of effort put into organising this kind of event as well as into the music.

Music of/in the margins

It reminds me of the root of the word “amateur” in Latin “amator” meaning a “lover”. It is also striking that few contemporary dictionaries mention this meaning of the word defining it mainly in a binary relation to “professionalism”; i.e. as a category for the economic nature and level of competence. The latter tends to often be understood in terms of education and skills acquired through more or less institutional study and therefore conforming with the norms thereof.

Much and more could (and will) be said of music-making in the margins, whether economical, institutional or otherwise. Attending this event reminded me again of how much music is been made in the “margins”; and of the great variety of it. It is interesting – although ultimately rather mundane – to note whether people call their music “indie”, “alternative”, “experimental” or something else to denominate their marginality. What is remarkable is the amount of energy and love put into such musical activities and how they, also literally, move people. And in such movement music is in the centre.

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