Indie music scene
An independent music scene is a localized independent music-oriented (or, more specifically, indie rock/indie pop-oriented) community of bands and their audiences. Local scenes can play a key role in musical history and lead to the development of influential genres; for example, No Wave from New York City, Madchester from Manchester, and Grunge from Seattle.
Indie scenes are often created as a response to mainstream or popular music. These scenes are created in opposition of mainstream culture and music and often contribute to the formation of oppositional identities among individuals involved in the scene.
Indie music around the world
- Johannesburg: Johannesburg has live performance venues and is home to such artists as Shortstraw, KONGOS, Jesse Clegg and Zebra & Giraffe.
- Pretoria: Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, has live performance venues and is home to such artists as December Streets and Fuzigish.
- Cape Town: Cape Town the "Mother City" of South Africa, has live performance venues and is home to such artists such as Al Barrie, The Plastics(band) and Beatenberg
The indie music scene in Japan is active, gaining mainstream success beginning in the late 1990s when the so-called indie boom began to emerge. There are sources who attribute this success to several musicians who were referred to as "individual producer-composers" such as Hosono Haruomi, Komoya Tesuya, Oyamada Keigo (also known as Cornelius), and Oda Tetsuro. Cornelius, for instance, pioneered an indie music movement called "Shibuya Sound" and released songs that gained international success such as the Pizzicato Five. During this period, the indie music was described as "inspired, confident and amazingly eclectic - running the stylistic gamut from the 'melo-core' (melodious hardcore) of three-man band Hi-Standard to the dark ambient music of Kyoto's Mana and just about every conceivable musical genre in between, except for J-pop."
There are scholars who note an interesting aspect to the Japanese indie film. This involved a Japanese protectionist licensing policy that prevents indie music from being sold in major media distribution networks. Indie records are only sold in small retail stores that import foreign records - those that are not part of the industrial channels. This relegates the Japanese indie music into the context of a global scene.
The current indie music scene in Japan features bands like the pillows, Asian Kung–Fu Generation, ogre you asshole, Straightener, Sakanaction, Acidman, fujifabric, and Beat Crusaders. Expanded list of some Japanese indie rock bands
Despite the popularity of K-pop (Korean Pop), there is also an Indie scene in South Korea. It is sometimes referred as K-Indie as a neologism inspired by K-pop. The heart of the Korean indie scene is in Hongdae area where indie acoustic, rock, house, electro and also underground hip-hop artists are listened to by young niche listeners. 'Sound Day' is held in Hongdae area every 2nd Friday of the month. It is a festive day dedicated to the indie scene with discounts on numerous indie performances and access to various stages throughout the day. Although overshadowed by the mainstream music in Korea, it has gained some degree of international exposure through the internet via YouTube. Some indie bands/artists include The RockTigers, 10cm, Yozo, and Jang Jae-in.
More information about Korean indie music in English can be found at such websites as Korean Indie and the Korea Gig Guide. In Korean, the main indie websites are Weiv and Scatterbrain, while a Korean-language music Wiki is at Krrr.
Australia and New Zealand
- Melbourne: The little band scene was an experimental post-punk scene which flourished in Melbourne's inner suburbs from 1978 to 1981. The Boys Next Door launched the careers of Nick Cave and Rowland S. Howard. Another notable example is Courtney Barnett.
- Sydney: While the independent music scene in Sydney was once second only to Melbourne's, it has suffered from a lack of suitable venues for the last decade or so. Many pubs and clubs are alleged to have found it more profitable to offer gambling machines rather than live music, but a complex and live-music-hostile regulatory environment has also contributed.. Some examples include: Pnau, Deep Sea Arcade.
- Perth: Perth's isolation as the only capital city on the west coast, has allowed an independent music scene to develop. Notable examples include: Tame Impala, The Sleepy Jackson, San Cisco.
- Brisbane: Brisbane has a smaller indie scene than Melbourne but indie bands are found in Brisbane. Some bands include: An Horse, Last Dinosaurs, The Medics, The Jungle Giants, and The Saints.
- Dunedin: The Dunedin sound was a style of indie pop music created in the southern New Zealand university city of Dunedin in the early 1980s. It is characterized by "jingly jangly" guitar-playing, minimal basslines and loose drumming. Keyboards are also often prevalent. New Zealand-based Flying Nun Records championed the scene; artists include The Clean (who gave the scene the name Dunedin sound), and The Chills.
- Auckland: Auckland is the headquarters of experimental indie taste-makers Midium Records.(subscription required) Auckland is also associated with indie-by-name-only The Mint Chicks and Cut Off Your Hands. Other indie related artists include State of Mind, Liam Finn, Pan Am, Connan Mockasin, The Checks, and The Veils.
- Toronto, Ontario: In the mid-2000s an influx of independent bands infiltrated the music scene, such as Broken Social Scene, Death from Above 1979, Tokyo Police Club, Metric, Crystal Castles and The Carps gaining notoriety at home and abroad.
- Montreal, Quebec: The Montreal music scene has given rise to such musicians and groups as Sean Nicholas Savage, Grimes, BRAIDS, Blue Hawaii, Tegan and Sara, Arcade Fire, Stars, Cœur de Pirate, Islands, Plants and Animals, Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, AIDS Wolf, Bell Orchestre, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Patrick Watson. It is centered on the Mile End neighborhood, in the Borough of Le Plateau-Mont-Royal.
- Halifax, Nova Scotia: In the 1990s, Halifax was home to the "Halifax Pop Explosion" scene, including bands such as Sloan, Jale, Thrush Hermit, Rebecca West, The Super Friendz and The Hardship Post. After the early scene splintered somewhat in the late 1990s, artists including Joel Plaskett, Wintersleep, In-Flight Safety, and Rich Aucoin formed a second wave in the 2000s.
- Phoenix, Arizona: Phoenix has served as a springboard for several notable acts in the punk rock and extreme metal genres such as; The Bled, American Standards, Bless The Fall, The Word Alive, Job For A Cowboy, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Greeley Estates. It has also been home for successful alternative rock and indie rock artists such as; Jimmy Eat World, The Format, AJJ, Authority Zero and Eyes Set To Kill.
- Athens, Georgia: During the early 1980s, sleepy Athens suddenly exploded with influential post-punk bands such as R.E.M., the B-52s and Pylon. Successful indie rock bands in the 1990s were formed in Athens, and were often associated with The Elephant 6 Recording Company (or simply Elephant 6). Some notable bands include The Apples in Stereo, The Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Of Montreal.
- Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The "Chapel Hill" music scene (which also often includes bands from nearby Research Triangle cities Raleigh and Durham) was one of the biggest hotbeds of indie music starting in the mid-1980s with bands like The Connells, Flat Duo Jets and Southern Culture On The Skids. The 1990s saw the rise of indie rock bands such as Polvo, Archers of Loaf and Superchunk which started Merge an indie record label of the 1990s. The 2000s saw the arrival of bands like Ben Folds Five and Squirrel Nut Zippers. The indie club Cat's Cradle (which originated as a folk cafe in the 1960s) has also played a major part in the "Chapel Hill" music scene hosting "little known" acts (like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Smashing Pumpkins) that eventually went on to become major "alternative" acts in the mid-1990s.
- Washington, D.C.: Although the D.C. area was the original home to notable musicians ranging from Duke Ellington and Marvin Gaye to Jim Morrison, Mama Cass and Nils Lofgren, by the 1960s there was little musical infrastructure in D.C. to support a local scene of musicians that would achieve national renown, and most local musicians who sought success or influence went to cities such as New York, Detroit or Los Angeles to pursue their careers. Gaye, for instance, became an innovator and global star of R&B but went to Motown Records before achieving major renown. One rare example of a local scene at the time was the Takoma Park folk scene, centered on the independent self-releases of John Fahey, an acoustic-based artist with both a traditional orientation and an experimental inclination. This scene had little commercial impact at the time, even in the D.C. area, and its artistic influence on underground musicians such as Sonic Youth occurred over a longer term. In the 1970s, however, the majority African American city and its surrounding suburbs such as Prince George's County, Maryland developed a homegrown type of dance-oriented, African-influenced funk music called Go-go, which became highly popular among local residents, though it failed to attract significant national or global attention as compared with other forms of dance music at the time. Go-go artists of major importance in its early years included Rare Essence, Trouble Funk and E.U., with Chuck Brown being a figure commonly associated with the movement from then to the present. A local infrastructure of independent stores and labels released Go-go music, and local radio stations played it. The late 1970s and early 1980s also marked the birth of a punk rock-inspired independent music scene in the nation's capital which would prove highly influential on other musicians around the country and the world, providing the first independent rock scene in Washington, D.C. and one of the earliest in the U.S. Bad Brains helped to put D.C. on the map with a sound that merged reggae and soul with hard guitars to develop the musically and politically subversive genre of hardcore punk. D.C. resident Henry Rollins, who also came out of the hardcore punk scene, joined the highly influential band Black Flag and became their frontman. Ian Mackaye and Jeff Nelson founded Dischord Records, originally to release their own groundbreaking hardcore punk recordings with bands such as Teen Idles and Minor Threat. By the later 1980s, Dischord had maintained its firmly independent ethic even as it became a D.C. institution. Meanwhile, its bands such as Embrace and Rites of Spring had developed beyond the hardcore sound to an emotionally raw and more melodic, but still abrasive music which eventually attracted the tag "emo-core" or "emo," which would widely influence alternative rock music in the 1990s and 2000s. The first wave of D.C. independent musicians gradually moved on to developing post-hardcore styles. Members of different Dischord bands were united in the MacKaye-fronted Fugazi, who existed from the 1980s to early 2000s and became a prototypical independent band in their business model. Musically, the band also marked a new era for the D.C. scene, drawing from a range of sounds from hardcore punk to dub and funk; Fugazi is a D.C. band along with Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Black Flag, although the band, like other Dischord acts, often recorded not in D.C. but in studios in Arlington, in Northern Virginia. Dave Grohl, a Northern Virginia resident who played in local punk bands such as Scream, joined Seattle-based grunge band Nirvana in 1990, a year before their massive commercial breakthrough; after Nirvana's breakup, Grohl, though no longer based in the area, had continued mainstream success with Foo Fighters, who wrote songs about the D.C. and Northern Virginia area. By the 1990s, as alternative rock went mainstream, Dischord bands such as Shudder to Think began to receive mainstream attention and some signed with major labels, though the label (and Fugazi) remained firmly independent and continues to release musicians who are rooted locally. Because of the unique musical heritage of African Americans in D.C., which included more influence from Afro-funk and Caribbean music, D.C.-based hip hop artists often struggled to find success outside the area, though Wale finally reversed this trend somewhat. Go-go, after a number of failed attempts to expand outside the D.C. area, finally experienced brief mainstream success in the early 2000s, when go-go producer Rich Harrison was called to make beats for prominent R&B acts, resulting in crossover Go-go hits such as Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love," a smash featuring a rap from her then-boyfriend and later-husband Jay-Z, and Amerie's "1 Thing." Though originally of Baltimore, Maryland, the indie rock act Animal Collective maintained connections to the D.C. area, naming their breakthrough album after a local live venue.
- Los Angeles, California:
- The Los Angeles indie scene rides the wave through neighborhoods like Koreatown, Los Feliz, Silverlake, and Echo Park, which have given rise to such bands and artists as Elliott Smith, Local Natives, Dawes, Moving Units, Rilo Kiley, Earlimart, Autolux, Scarling. and Giant Drag.
- The Smell scene came up in the 2000s, with bands such as HEALTH, Abe Vigoda, Local Natives, Best Coast, Foster the People, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Cold War Kids and No Age.
- San Francisco, California: Currently centered on the Mission District and underground listening rooms such as Viracocha or clubs like Amnesia and the Make-Out Room, which features local alternative musicians like John Vanderslice or the idiosyncratic singer-(toy) pianist Eliza Rickman as well as indie rock groups like Girls, Deerhoof, The Dodos, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Xiu Xiu, and Sun Kil Moon. Additionally, a recent garage rock revival includes such groups as Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, and The Fresh & Onlys.
- Chicago, Illinois: Being home to a number of independent record labels such as Touch and Go Records, Thrill Jockey Records and Drag City Records. Chicago has an active indie scene in America, next to New York's. Not only being home to the foundations of American hardcore punk, alt-country, house music, noise rock, industrial music, Post-rock and other independent music scenes, it is also a city for an independent band to establish a cult following due to its variety of both contemporary and legendary music venues. Notable bands with roots in Chicago include Wilco, Smashing Pumpkins, Cheap Trick, Urge Overkill, Ministry, Tortoise, The Sea and Cake, and Wax Trax! bands such as Front 242. The city was also key in the emo scene with early bands such as Braid. Despite the scene's often distaste for local politics, city funding has allowed Chicago to become America's premier music festival city, hosting several popular indie headliners in the past couple of years such as Superchunk, Black Francis, Pavement, The Flaming Lips, Spoon, De La Soul, Mos Def, Isis, Olivia Tremor Control, Junior Boys; music festivals such as Pitchfork Music Festival, Lollapalooza (since 2005), Chicago Blues Festival, and Alehorn of Power; and a free weekly Monday music series called "Downtown Sound", at Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion, featuring independent acts performing in a theater commonly used for classical music, allowing them to receive engineered acoustics as well as an outdoor performance space. Chicago's music scene varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, but overall has a focus on independent music due to its influences from local radio stations such as WXRT-FM and Loyola University Chicago's WLUW. Chicago is home to music media giant Pitchfork Media and recently CHIRP (Chicago Independent Radio Project), a community radio station not only providing the internet with independent tunes, but also an organization bidding for support to convince the United States Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to remove existing barriers to the granting of low power FM radio licenses in urban areas, including Chicago.
- New York. In the late 1970s New York No Wave arose with bands such as DNA, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and James Chance and the Contortions. A second wave of noise rock brought Swans and Sonic Youth. After 2000 in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a new scene developed with bands The Strokes, Interpol, LCD Soundsystem, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Yeasayer, TV on the Radio and Vampire Weekend. Indie bands have also relocated to the active indie music scene such as Animal Collective and MGMT. Booker Todd P plays a key role, placing bands in unusual places.
- Baltimore, Maryland: In the 1980s Half Japanese and in the early to mid-2000s a wide variety of indie bands have stepped into the spotlight, such as Beach House, Lower Dens, Dan Deacon, Celebration, Future Islands, Wye Oak, and Ponytail.
- Seattle, Washington: The Seattle-based record label Sub Pop was the first to sign Nirvana, and also signed such non-grunge bands as The Postal Service and The Shins. A number of recent and established indie rock groups have their roots in Seattle, including Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Harvey Danger, Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, Minus the Bear, Citizens, and Pedro the Lion.
- Minneapolis, Minnesota: Minneapolis has been a hotbed of influential music for decades. The city is home to Prince and Bob Dylan. Dylan started his career in Dinkytown, a community located on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. The city has also had several successful indie acts including Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Atmosphere, Tapes 'n Tapes, Cloud Cult, Mason Jennings, Brother Ali, Hippocampus and others have helped to make the Twin Cities area one of a vibrant music scene.
- Portland, Oregon: Portland has been a hotbed of indie music since the mid-1990s. In 2007, SLATE Magazine declared Portland as America's indie rock mecca. The late Elliott Smith was one of the first indie musicians to gain notoriety in the area. He has been followed by such acts as The Decemberists, The Shins, Stephen Malkmus, M. Ward, The Helio Sequence, Menomena, The Thermals, Portugal. The Man, Blitzen Trapper, YACHT, Blind Pilot, Sleater-Kinney, and Viva Voce.
- Olympia, Washington: Olympia has also been a founding city of the indie scene, starting with the establishment of Calvin Johnson's K Records in 1982. Other labels in Olympia such as Kill Rock Stars, followed suit, and bands such as Calvin's Dub Narcotic Sound System and Beat Happening, Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Lois, Lync, and Some Velvet Sidewalk.
- Austin, Texas: Austin's indie scene has developed over the years and has become dominant in this city nicknamed "the live music capital of the world". In addition to music-related festivals SXSW, Austin City Limits, and Fun Fun Fun Fest, indie music can be heard in live music venues across the city. Local bands include Ghostland Observatory, Spoon, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Okkervil River, The Wooden Birds, The Black Angels, White Denim, Explosions in the Sky as well as longer active acts such as Daniel Johnston, Bill Callahan and Jad Fair.
- Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha has created an Indie Scene for the past 15 years. Many bands are from the Indie label Saddle Creek Records. Some notable bands include Bright Eyes, Cursive, Neva Dinova, Rilo Kiley, and The Faint. Omaha's success in the Indie music industry has to do with the success that Conor Oberst has had in the mainstream. Conor is also a co-creator of Saddle Creek along with his brother, Justin.
- Akron, Ohio: Akron folk tend to lean more towards a garage rock scene, primarily influenced by the Black Keys, a blues rock band from Akron, Ohio. Garage rock/blues rock indie bands have been signed to various independent labels in the Highland Square area.
- Columbus, Ohio: Columbus has created a very popular indie scene with the help of the musical duo Twenty One Pilots, who mix many genres of indie and alternative music into their songs.
- Provo, Utah: Provo has recently gained momentum with the indie rock scene, fueled by supportive college students from nearby schools, Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. Bands that have roots in Provo/Salt Lake City include Neon Trees, Imagine Dragons, The Used, The Brobecks, Fictionist, Mindy Gledhill, Meg and Dia, King Niko, Joshua James, Mother Drum and The New Electric Sound.
- Nantes, In Nantes the yearly Soy Festival takes place in October. The festival has a line-up of mainly avant-rock, noise rock and experimental rock acts and takes place in the city. The biggest music venue in Nantes is Le Lieu Unique.
- Berlin became a cultural musical centre where artist moved to after 2000. Acts: Peaches, Liars, Devastations, IAMX. Labels: City Slang Records, Giant Rooks
- Hamburg was the center of German indie rock in the 1990s (the so-called Hamburger Schule). Around 2000, a second wave of notable acts emerged from Hamburg. Acts: Tocotronic, Die Sterne, Die Goldenen Zitronen (they were around since the 1980s), Blumfeld, Tomte, Kettcar. Labels: Grand Hotel van Cleef, Tapete Records
The Hungarian indie scene is mainly active in the capital city, Budapest. In the early 2000s, Hungary's first response to the world's indie revival were Ligeti-led The Puzzle from Kaposvár. In 2006 Amber Smith's RePRINT was released by the German Kalinkaland Records which demonstrated the emergence of the Hungarian indie in Europe. In 2007 The Moog's Sold for Tomorrow reached even bigger success when their record was released by the American label, MuSick Records, which indicated the first international success. Other indie bands include EZ Basic, The KOLIN, Supersonic, The Poster Boy and Dawnstar. Two of the most important and prolific musicians are Imre Poniklo and György Ligeti.
Indie rock has become quite successful in Italy since the early 00's. The most important musical scenes are in Rome, with the one-man band I Cani and the more popular Calcutta, Bologna, with the band Lo Stato Sociale, Milan, with the bands Canova and L'Officina della Camomilla (whose singer, Francesco de Leo, has started a solo career), and Turin where Indie rock mixes with different genres like elettropop like Cosmo or underground hip-hop like Willie Peyote.
The indie music scene in the Netherlands is mainly active in the four biggest cities Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht as well as Arnhem and the northern cities Groningen and Leeuwarden. See Dutch rock#Indie rock for a brief overview of bands, organisations, venues, festivals that create and are connected to the Dutch scene.
There have been indie music coming out of Oslo such as Lukestar. From the city of Haugesund comes Susanne Sundfør and from Tromsø Röyksopp. Also the city of Bergen has markable acts, such as Aurora, Casiokids, Datarock, Kings of Convenience, Annie and Sondre Lerche.
- Barcelona is known for its yearly Primavera Sound Festival, partly curated by ATP and Pitchfork Media.
A number of Swedish indie musicians have become famous world-side. Most singing in English. The Cardigans gained early success in the mid-1990s. Some notable acts include: The Sounds, Lykke Li, Robyn, The Tallest Man on Earth, The Hives, Eskobar, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Kent, First Aid Kit, Air France, Jens Lekman, The Knife, Shout Out Louds, The Radio Dept., Fever Ray, The Tough Alliance, and Life on Earth.
- The first indie music scene is recognized as having started in the United Kingdom, with the release of the C86 cassette, a 1986 NME compilation featuring Primal Scream and other bands. The significance of C86 is recognized in the subtitle of its 2006 extended reissue: CD86: 48 Tracks from the Birth of Indie Pop. C86 was a document of the UK indie scene at the start of 1986, and it gave its name to the indie pop scene that followed, which was a major influence on the development of indie music as a whole. Significant record labels included Creation, Subway and Glass.
- The shoegazing scene of the late 1980s was named for band members' tendency to stare at their feet and guitar effects pedals onstage rather than interact with the audience. My Bloody Valentine and others created a loud "wash of sound" that obscured vocals and melodies with long, droning riffs, distortion, and feedback. Within the same decade, labels such as Cheree Records and Ché Trading amalgamated into an entity that the industry now refers to as Rocket Girl, which has since contributed significantly.
- The end of the 1980s saw the Madchester scene. Based around The Haçienda, a nightclub in Manchester owned by New Order and Factory Records, Madchester bands such as Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses mixed acid house dance rhythms, Northern soul and funk with melodic guitar pop.
- The Britpop scene developed in the early 1990s as part of a larger British cultural movement called Cool Britannia. In the wake of the musical invasion into the UK of American grunge bands, British bands positioned themselves as an opposing musical force. Influenced by the key British band of the 1980s, The Smiths, and adopting the unashamed commercial approach to which the C86 bands had seemed sometimes ideologically opposed, Britpop acts such as Oasis, Blur, Suede and Pulp referenced British guitar music of the past and aimed at writing about British topics and concerns.
- Trip Hop is a genre of electronic music that originated in the early 1990s in Bristol. Most notable artists are Massive Attack, Tricky and Portishead.
In Sao Paulo some important indie bands play in a plenty of post-punk houses and cultural centers. Boogarins and O Terno are the most important current names. Los Hermanos, in Rio, very famous from 2000's, have also a member at the American band Little Joy. Tiê, Metá Metá, A banda mais bonita da cidade, Banda do mar, Copacabana Club, Far From Alaska and Cansei de Ser Sexy are some other examples of the strong Brazilian alternative scene, composing between rock, pop and MPB. The frequent Lollapalooza festival editions in Sao Paulo are a special opportunity to appreciate them.
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