clap clap blog: we have moved

Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Sometimes when I'm at the office and listening to, say, Poison or Beyonce, someone will walk by and hear it and say something to the effect of, "Hey, I thought you were Mr. Indie."

And I always think: am I?

This weekend I went with Miss Clap to her Indiana hometown (yeah, Thomas, we got another Hoosier in the house--she's kicking it all South Bend-style), and while we were driving around at one point she mentioned that she'd been a punk in high school, but clearly she would have been an indie kid if there were indie kids at her school--which, she said, there definitely would be today, since indie culture is so widespread.[1] She was always a bit too happy to be a full-on punk.

I think this sort of works with me, too, in terms of being "indie."[2] In many ways, I have some fundamental differences with anything you'd think to describe as indie--I don't mind major labels or success or slickness or a whole bunch of other things. And sure, hating indieness is a key characteristic of being indie, but still...I'm too obscurist/noise-friendly to be particularly mainstream, so "pop" is out, more's the pity. I just sort of like everything. So what the hell am I?

But I think "indie" is a reasonably good descriptor because, along with pop, it's one of the few genre names that don't actually have a damn thing to do with the way the music sounds. Sure, it's come to be identified with a certain guitar-reliant, quiet, amateurish, muted vocals, lo-fi sound, but in reality I can like hip-hop (Mr. Lif), metal (Oxes), folk (Iron & Wine), noise (Deerhoof), dance (Legowelt), country (Old 97s), blues (R.L. Burnside), jazz (Sonny Sharrock), classical (Glen Branca), and pop (Fountains of Wayne) and still be correctly said to be "indie." That's all the broad genres I can think of right now, and that's kind of cool, all things told.

Of course, I don't actually stick to this definition; I listen to major-label stuff all the time. But I think as a kind of suggestion of a broad musical palate, it works well enough.

[1] Do folks think this is true? I was a bit doubtful, but my sense of the larger culture is clouded by being too close to it, I fear.
[2] I.e. it's not really what I am, but there aren't enough people around like me for there to be a classification awarded to it.