I am proud to admit that I am an indie artist. To be more specific, an indie author. And since the “indie” does everything they can to spin the system around and make it their bitch, I thought it fitting to dedicate this “Misfit Monday” to the indie artist.
What is an “indie”?
For some people, the “indie” is an artist with a Do It Yourself mentality — instead of depending upon others to make the dream happen, they do it themselves. To some extent, that is very true. But not all indie artists are DIYers. In fact, one of the most beautiful aspects of being an “indie” is you have a veritable community of fellow indies who would love to help you.
That is such a strong word in the indie world. Where label-seekers, corporate artists, and other non-indies tend to live their artistic life with but one goal — stepping over everyone else in the rise to fame and fortune; the indie artist fully understands the community is only as strong as its weakest member.
Many scholars, pundits, and other media-happy peoples (shiny or not) associate the beginning of the indie movement with music. The likes of (early) REM, The Lemonheads, The Judybats, Big Wheel, Mazzy Star — all bands who shirked the big labels to do everything they could to get their music heard, even if footing the production bill themselves. But I would argue that the indie movement predated the likes of 90s grunge by quite a bit.
Let’s think about Beat Poets, Chance music, and Jackson Pollock. Each of these types (or artists) shied away from popular culture and brought about a new form of art — one not accepted by “The Man” or the average art-loving member of society at large. They broke boundaries, didn’t play by the rules, made their own forms, took a chance on something new.
One of best examples I can think of was John Cages’ 4’33’ (Four Minutes and Thirty Three seconds). This was a piece of music Cage experimented with that was precisely four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence. But to Cage, the music was in the audience response to witnessing a full orchestra play nothing on the stage. That was Chance Music at its best.
That was a moment of brilliant independent art.
What does it mean to be an indie author?
We are the literary revolutionaries. What we, as a whole, have done is tell the traditional publishing industry that we’ve had enough. This isn’t about a bunch of artists going their own way because they couldn’t be accepted into the hallowed halls of the Big 6. They could. Trust me. Read any single book by a member of the Indie Eclective and tell me those books aren’t good enough to be published by one of the Big 6 publishers and to that I will say Pish Posh!
Indie authors saw something traditional publishers could see — they saw audiences bored with the norm. They knew the standard genres had grown stale and that readers longed for something more. But as the traditional publishers were drowning in their own ocean of hard and fast rules; the indie author could swim in that same ocean as agile as a fish. We could move, shift, switch, and leap the breakers.
When the term “indie” first broke (as an accepted genre among society) was back in the 90s. The artistic form was music. The term came from those bands signing with independent record labels. Those independent record labels were small recording houses who’d grown sick of the ways and means of the major labels. Artists were being robbed (and still are) by the likes of Virgin and Sony, and the small shops wanted to take back the power and hand it to the artists.
But then, at some point (in the music world), the term “indie” took on a whole new meaning. Indie became a genre of music. And there were indie bands signing with major labels. It was an irony that many of the younger generations of fans wouldn’t get. The goal now is to ensure the fans don’t begin to label indie as a sub-genre of traditional.
But we are misfits of many special devices and we will overcome those obstacles. I want all my readers, fans, friends, family, associates, and anyone else who is or wants to become part of the Jackverse to help me in celebrating all things indie. It’s the holidays and what better way to celebrate “indie” than to support an indie artist. I don’t care if it’s an author, musician, painter, actor, singer, dancer, baker — whoever … just support them and make them know how much you appreciate their misfit-ery.
The world without indie artists is an ugly, bleak one filled with ever and ever more of the same.