Indie Music Community Creates New Subculture

“Tonight we are young // So let’s set the world on fire // We can burn brighter than the sun”.

The song “We are Young” by fun. didn’t make its way up to the top of the Billboard 100 chart simply through its anthem-like call, but through the rise of a genre and a culture: indie music.

Formally known as independent music, the name calls to the spirit of the youthful and indeterminate culture. Indie music can’t be easily classified by the number of beats or the instruments used. As a new-age fusion, the subcultures range from genres such as indie folk with its guitars and relaxed melodies, to glitchy indie music that uses synthesizers and lo-fi sound recording. Most of the time, the music tends to have some basic rock influences while using a mix of electronic and acoustic beats. One thing is for sure with indie music: it’s not your typical mainstream electronic or pop music, and it’s definitely not your traditionally produced kind of music.

Started in the United Kingdom as underground music, indie music broke away from the usual production standards and started independent labels. Groups such as The Flaming Lips, of Montreal and The Black Keys emerged and began recording songs that could not be accurately categorized as anything but “independent”.
As the independent music culture began to spread, people were beginning to take an interest in the music. Indie songs that used to be in the underground scene began to rise to the top of the billboard charts. The indie group was faced with a dilemma: their music was going mainstream.

Fortunately, unlike other types of music, indie branched into different genres. Drawing inspiration from electronic music and pop music, indie started to develop different subsections. Artists such as Gotye began using synthesizers and electronic beats, [Ratatat]. U.K. bands such as Grouplove began producing new sounds with pop influences. Indie pop doesn’t stand as the only branch of the music genre that’s started to gain popularity within the community.

Indie folk bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club and artist such as Bon Iver gained their fame through their mellow beats and acoustic melodies. Bon Iver’s hit “Skinny Love” became popular among indie fans and mainstream fans alike, while Bombay Bicycle Club’s song “Shuffle” quickly spread throughout the indie music community with its happy piano-acoustic beats. Influenced by country music, indie folk drew in listeners by producing natural sounds that were pleasing to the ear.

Indie rock was also quickly snatched up by mainstream music. Bands such as The Killers, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Modest Mouse quickly appealed to the public with their rock-based songs that spread the youthful feel of a carefree life and cruising through life. Albums such as “Angles” and “Is This It” give many people the feel that they can just roll down the windows of their car, blasting music and having a laid-back day. Indie rock has even become popular in the UK and the European music scene, where groups such as Of Monsters and Men have produced fresh rock-based songs.

However, despite the fact that indie music is slowly climbing up the top charts, some indie musicians seem adament on staying out of mainstream culture. Producing whimsical sounds is something they want to keep as a trademark. The Books, an independent music group, is an example. In their album, “The Lemon of Pink”, the tracks are labeled as “folktronica” or just “other.” “Other” is exactly what you’d expect: tracks consist of samples of Ghandi quotes and banjos, edited electronically and put together like a collage. Despite how whimsical some of the tracks might seem, they still have the relaxed, new-age indie feel to them.
Although the indie community is becoming more popular, it’s not turning into something that is being pumped out of a corporate machine. But at the same time, it’s not a hipster take over of the world either. Nowadays, indie music is a hybrid that has a wide variety of styles that blends the aspects of what makes mainstream pop so popular, but adds in more complex emotions that provide people with a fresh, eye-opening (or ear-opening) experience.

For most teens, indie music describes what makes up our culture. Sometimes we just want to chill and have a laid-back day. Sometimes we have feelings of euphoria that make us just want to get up and celebrate the carefree moments in our lives. Sometimes there’s just a need to express the sublime feeling of pride and rebellion.

Music festivals, such as Coachella, Treasure Island, Lollapalooza and Outside Lands all feed the musical appetite and hipster culture of indie fans from all over the world. Artists such as The Black Keys, Bon Iver, Miike Snow, Florence and the Machine, Beats Antique and Gotye performed for about a quarter million fans. Fans who wanted experience this but couldn’t get tickets were always bummed in the past. This year, Coachella realized that their audience was getting bigger. Indie music was what people wanted, and there wasn’t enough. So the indie experience is what Coachella gave them. Coachella created a two-weekend schedule to give avid music fans a second chance to see their favorite artists perform if they didn’t get to see them the first time.

What did people do? Naturally they took advantage of the opportunity: tickets for both weekends sold out within a week. But Coachella still made an effort to cater to the growing music community. Video streams on Coachella’s YouTube channel were available to watch live or save for later.

From concerts such as Coachella Music Festival in Southern California to Lollapalooza in Chicago’s Central Park, it’s obvious that the feeling of youth is in the air. Thousands of people with sunglasses and sandals join with each other on grassy hills to listen to bands such as fun., Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phoenix and Beats Antique.

Festivals keep the quality and the spirit of indie music alive. The youthful atmosphere has a blend of people from all types – the carefree, the young, the wild, and the free. From listening to indie music in a car, watching live concerts on YouTube or going to music festivals, the indie spirit is in the air. Indie culture is youth culture, and it’s not going to die out any time soon.