With the Indie music craze on the rise, Samvitha Ram digs into the details to find out more about the shifting trends and the rise of this new genre.

It seems that Chennai has had enough and more of Rihanna, Coldplay and Adele. Though, based on Chennai Live’s play lists, we’re still big fans of pop, rock and hip-hop, a lot of young college-goers and adults are looking for something else. The latest trend, however, seems to be focused around Indie music.

For those of you who are still unaware of this genre of music, here are the basics. Indie music, short for ‘independent music’, is a form that came about in the U.S. and U.K. in the 1970’s. Since then, its characteristics have evolved to include any band or artist that isn’t signed with a major records company. Most Indie music doesn’t fall into a specifically defined style; hence the rise of terms such as ‘Indie pop’, ‘Indie rock’, and the like.

Rising popularity

From the early 2000’s until the present, it seems that though these artists haven’t been included under major commercial record labels, they have risen to commercial success.

Of course, one big factor in making their music so well-known worldwide, and here in Chennai, is the spread of technology, and easy video-sharing facilities. With just a single click on YouTube, a quick post of the link on Facebook, or a ‘share’ through email, a large group of people can be made aware of music and specific bands/artists.

Here in Chennai, the craze for Indie music seems to have started just a few years ago.

“I had never heard of Indie music until about 2010. After talking to a few friends who are very much involved in the music circle, they put me onto a few songs by Indie artists. I shared the songs with other friends in my circle, and soon we were all looking for new bands to listen to. I guess this is how the trend spreads, right?” says Shriya N.

Many other youngsters support her view. Though we had a few music maestros who said that Indie came to Chennai a long time ago, it seems that the majority have only recently started filling their iPods with these lesser known artists.

Having asked around for favourite Indie bands, I was met with a variety of answers — everything from Goldspot, Happy Mondays to Death Cab for Cutie.

Labels

Of course, the recent debates on the term ‘Indie’ have done much to spark their popularity and generate interest in the genre. As previously mentioned, one of the major characteristics of this musical genre is its exclusivity — the fact that it hasn’t been taken under by a major label company.

However, due to the sudden craze over Indie music, some of these lesser known labels are quickly earning the big bucks; some feel the term is therefore no longer applicable.

A second-year college student weighs in, “Well, I can certainly see why the debates are coming up. But the truth is, if a band is good, it’s going to get recognition, and that’s what the public and music industry should realise. We must move past the stringent boundaries of musical labels and focus more on the music.”

Chennai has always been the cultural hub of the country, and there is a wealth of talent here, as there is anywhere else. There are a great bunch of bands and musicians that I have been following (Emergence, Sean Roldan, Ed DeGenaro, Project YUJ, etc.) that produce some fantastic and fresh music, a real treat to listen to.

Though there was a stagnant period in independent and original music, and there was the monotony of rock and metal music, I am very happy that people, especially youngsters are opening up to all forms of traditional and non-traditional musicI think Goldspot is a great band with original music, and most importantly inspire people to think differently.

The F 16’s

Before the keyboardist joined us, we were a ‘rock ‘n roll’ outfit called The Bishops. But like any other band we had our problems and a few members split up to form The F16’s. Why did we choose this genre? Well, we basically love Indie music — we listen to it all day! When we play this particular genre, the whole band is in sync and we feel like we’re all in the same wavelength.

Indie music in Chennai is hard to find. We can think of only two bands who are really into the Indie music scene — The Shakey Rays and The Adam & The Fish Eyed Poets. These guys really inspired us to jump into the scene as well. As for Indie music worldwide, we would have to say our favourites would be Foals, The Strokes, Alt -J, Mutemath, Arctic Monkeys, Two-door Cinema Club and Young The Giant.

Karmic Blues

Says band member Vishnu Ramprasad: Playing guitar and music has always been a very personal thing for me. I am fortunate to have found my calling early and pursued music. I always had an urge to do things differently. I put together a project called Karmic Blues in 2009 — a project of global essence and outreach. We aimed to collaborate with talented musicians from all over the world and transform our unique experiences and influences seamlessly into the band’s music. The focus was to make technical and classical music more appreciable by the youngsters of today. In the process, I’m honoured to have found musicians of high caliber — Vijayagopal (flute, vocals), Ayman Boujlida (Tunisia, drums), Steve Zerlin (U.S.A., bass guitars) and Aditya (tabla).