1 Question / 9 Answers:

Alec Empire, ARNo, Kristin Hersh, James DiSalvio, Milo Cordell, Phillip Boa, John Robb, Thomas Truax and Justin Sullivan

by v3rsus (2010)

In the beginning of the 90s indie was an uncorrupted, visible, cultural force: how did indie lose its momentum?

Alec Empire: It changed when major record companies wanted to release 'indie' records. These things change step by step. The genre came to existence because of the business model of independent record labels. These are getting crushed now due to mp3 piracy. Indie bands had to open the doors to sponsorship and this corrupts art. Every genre has its peak moment and indie had it from the early to the mid 90s.

ARNo (TKth): I'm not sure that indie has lost its power, but it's not the same as before. "Indie" is just a business word. It was only a comparison to the major companies. Money, Money, Money... But creation is still there! Music is still listened to! The concept of indie is nearly dead, because it’s useless, that's all! Just creation and art on the one side, and entertainment business and money on the other.

Kristin Hersh: Big, bad corporations inhaled indie rock and spat it back out in denatured, radio friendly (crappy) form. They just ripped off a style that flourished a decade earlier, like they always do. There's still an underground, of course, because music is, historically, a spontaneous human impulse, not a money making venture, but it's invisible to those who only seek out popular culture. Music of substance, in my opinion, happens in garages, living rooms and bars. It has become personal again--this is not a bad thing.

James DiSalvio: My experience with indie has always been a lot of people just celebrating the doors “The Pixies” and “Pavement” blew open for everyone in the 90s to just do their "own thing". Much the same way The Pistols, The Ramones and The Clash opened doors decades earlier. The only moment it got weird for me was when (like any movement for that matter), it had to be formatted within the rules of a genre. In our case, it was less of a genre than that age old story of the new world shot in... unhhh... black and white. In the nineties they said we were too "black" for KROQ, and too "white" for say, Power 106. I guess, that in itself was not the problem, I suppose, I just experienced the period where record company's would sell their own mother to have support by these stations which, in my opinion, crossed paths with the creative innocence from where the initial music comes from. That is the diplomatic way of offering a perspective. On a very matter of fact level: It's been a strange ride for me to try and respect the integrity of Joe Strummer as the world keeps changing. That, and calling ourselves a Rock and Roll band even though our DNA has just as much to do with Eric B & Rakim and Technotronic, as well as Lou Reed. But hey, that was then, this is......................U KNOW.

Milo Cordell: Yeah i guess the 90s could be seen as a golden age when music etc, etc was etc, etc, but so could alternative music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 00s. I guess what we have now is that alternative or indie has become a genre/market rather than doing something outside of the norm. But in one way that is a good thing cause it’s always gonna push the outsiders in the world to do something completely different and groundbreaking. So instead of looking back and moaning we should look forward and whoop . Having said this late 89 to early 92 is probably my fav era in music.

Phillip Boa: What?! Indie lost its momentum? It never did. Indie, defined as independent music, was or should have never been intended to be a commercial force to feed musicians in an "upgraded", "spoiled" way; indie is about expressing musically whatever you feel: lyrically personal, weird, confusing, romantic, political, etc. I myself stopped calling my music indie in the 90's because I became too successful. I called it pop or rock or whatever, and strangely felt like a traitor; which was a bit absurd. But indie as indie seems always a bit absurd, so full of contradictions. Since the year 2001 I called my work indie again, because I decided to destroy my outputs commercially in order to reduce my commercial success to the originally intended success-status. It was only a couple of years later that I realized that the above described ideological side of things is or can be a bit fake; it originates from bad feelings of the intellectual world in times of being successful: “uuuh-you suddenly can survive from your music: how bad.....” A band like Oasis, coming from proper working-class, were always indie but never gave the slightest shit about being indie-correct or whatever. They just wanted to create great music and be successful from the start; the question is here: what is more authentic? The honesty of a young band or the intellectual upper-middleclass/upperclass guilt? Nowadays I tend to be on the "Oasis"-side, cause I cut the bullshit-side of it all to a zero-level. 90's Indie! 2010 Indie: ??

John Robb: There are two distinctive periods of indie music. After punk and its DIY ethic opened the floodgates there was a real feeling that we could have music on our own terms and there was a real attempt to make music that was as intense and personal as possible and damn the consequences! My band the Membranes were very much part of this- like contemporaries The Fall and The Birthday Party we made abrasive in your face music that didn’t follow any conventional rock ‘n roll rules. At this point independent meant independent - it was about operating outside the music business and creating your own music scene and your own art. After 1989 and The Stone Roses’ classic album indie started to mean something totally different. It was now ok to acknowledge the past, it was now ok to get in the charts, it was now ok to play the game and gradually indie became a marketing term for a strand of generally guitar dominated jangly pop - a long way removed from the likes of Crass!

Thomas Truax: Perhaps we have reached a saturation point where almost everyone is indie now, and there are just too many cooks in the kitchen and not enough customers in the restaurant. Perhaps because the playing field is now effectively leveled with the internet and all, it has become apparent that bad, careless music can come from indies just as much as from anywhere else, and maybe people are even looking back towards less independent servers of music because of some reputation that an organization might have to offer up music of a certain reliable quality level. Aside from all that though, I don't necessarily think indie has gone bad. Maybe we just don't feel the volume of the army breaking down the walls anymore because they are now mostly broken down.

Justin Sullivan: All movements lose momentum and change and develop. It is the way of ALL things! There are external factors too - the most obvious of which is the many effects of the Internet. Everything is beautiful - but only because everything is dying...

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v3rsus 2010