What an indie musician expects from the counterculture
I was thinking more about what makes so many indie artists so bitter about their particular local music communities
And one thing I think that may happen psychologically and I suspect this from experience, is that because we decide oftentimes to do the opposite of what we perceive to be “mainstream” music we feel like the whole countercultural structure should be more in line with our wavelength but the reality is that every paradigm has its own superstructure that it takes real work to make inroads among. There’s a part of us that at times feels like we want more reward built in to the decision of not taking the easy way out, especially among those we perceive as also having made more bold artistic choices.
My group makes nerd music but that didn’t build in the nerd audience. My group has a lot of classic rock and psychedelia references but none of that audience comes built in. It all takes reaching out and paying dues. The counterculture isn’t this overly democratic free-for-all, it’s almost literally a mirrorworld. It might even be harder because artistic people who forsake the lowest common denominator kind of popularity think very highly of their tastes.
I remember Noa James booking my group for a nerd-themed show at the Common Ground and him saying he didn’t feel he was really nerdcore and over the years he stacked more songs about stuff like DragonBall Z that he was very into and the next thing you know it’s South by Southwest 2019 and Noa’s doing nerdcore showcases in Texas. I remember thinking his reticence was unnecessary but his humility and patience paid off in fun ways.
Partly I say this to say, if you happen to like to make work that has a popular appeal, don’t fight that urge in service of making something more obscure for picky hipsters….there’s no reward in that. If you want to pursue to favor and approval of the tastemakers that you yourself respect and admire, do it for the right reasons, do it because you want to make that kind of work. But more importantly, be aware that whatever paradigm you want success in, you have to learn it and put some work in within that paradigm.
Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers