When an Indie song isn’t…

I admit it. I, too, get excited by a retweet or reply on Twitter, especially if it’s a musician or band I enjoy. My most recent crazed fan experience was last week.

The musician: Nick Waterhouse.

The topic: This

Being too big an Indie aficionado for my own good, I can usually name the “unknown” song on commercials before they go all buzzy online. In fact, I’ve usually moved on from the song and am on to something else by the time I hear the song on the commercial. But the commercial usually reinvigorates interest for me. Thinking about this phenomenon, I posted the following tweet:

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The response came almost immediately:

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It had never dawned on me that what I call Indie probably has no meaning for (who I’d term) the Indie artist. Truth be told, Waterhouse’s music is probably more funk, soul, and R&B than it is traditional Indie (as might be defined by Juno and Nick and Norah). Truth be told, Indie is probably just as it sounds: Music from unsigned, independent bands, thus “Indie”.

But over the last few years, Indie music, in my mind, has become more about the sound than the band’s status as unsigned and “independent”. Case in point: bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Horses, My Morning Jacket, and Vampire Weekend are hallmarks of Indie music, but “independent” and unsigned, they are not. It’s the sound that defines the genre, and Indie sound is a rejection of the mainstream, sell-out radio-endorsed music that clutters the airwaves. It’s also broader than limiting it to one “type” of music (i.e. electronic, rock, etc.). The best indie is genre-defining and is often a fusion of multiple styles. (Take Mariachi El Bronx for example: a Punk and Mariachi fusion. Yeah, you’ve got to hear it).

So, to Nick Waterhouse, whose music is genre bending enough to be called Indie, I say: Indie music is innovative, musical style that rejects the mainstream…

….and that may or may NOT be, technically, independent.

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