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Friday, July 30, 2010

How to Succeed in Indie Music? Five Formulas For a Blog-Worthy Band

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 8:56 AM

Maybe you won't admit it -- at least to your would-be fans -- but we all know it's the truth. No matter how stunning your lack of ambition may be, no matter how much you say you like sharing a one-bedroom with four guys and perfecting lattes for corporate assholes to pay the rent, you want that indie-rock band you're starting to succeed. You want Gorilla Vs. Bear to gush. You want a Pitchfork "Rising" interview of your own. You want M.I.A. Grizzly Bear to invite you to collaborate on her its next amazing record.

How to do this? It's not that hard. There isn't one sure-fire formula for indie rock success, but there are ways to game the system -- to set up your band in a way that will help attract the attention of those who matter (i.e., bloggers). After a detailed analysis of moderate to extremely successful new indie bands, we've developed the following highly scientific templates for blog-worthy (and in some cases, megastardom-worthy) bands. Assembling your group according to these formulas won't at all help you make good music, but it will help you get attention. So here we go:

click to enlarge Crystal Castles
  • Crystal Castles

Type 1: The Mystery Mates
You are: A male-female duo whose relationship is rife with sexual tension. (You may be a couple, but be coy about that -- relationships are so conventional.)
You play: Synth-and-drum-machine-driven dance pop, preferably gimmicked with the occasional use of either outright noise or heavy guitars. (But dark, moody haze-pop -- and even retro bubblegum-soul -- are okay, too, as long as the songs have enough reverb to make your listeners/bloggers feel cool.)
Your look: Her -- brown bangs, wayfarers, flower-print blouses and skinny jeans. Him -- hoodies, wayfarers, skinny jeans.
Most likely: You are classically trained, the offspring of someone famous, or you played in a hardcore band before this.
You hail from: Brooklyn
Don't leave home without: A well-rehearsed look of apathy.
Examples: Sleigh Bells, Crystal Castles, Phantogram, Cults, Beach House
Chances of indie-rock stardom: one in three.

Type 2: The Six-String Slayers

You are: Two or three guys (bonus points if you also have an attractive female member).
You play: Unabashedly throwback, rudimentary garage/blues/punk with '60s pop influences.
Your look: Shaggy locks, facial hair, tattoos, lanky silhouettes, leather jackets, and cheap vintage (or vintage-looking) instruments. Wearing button-up shirts and ties is okay if they are vintage, too.
You hail from: San Francisco, Oakland, the Midwest, or the South.
Most likely: Your band name begins with "the," contains the word "black," or both.
Examples: Thee Oh Sees, Black Lips, B.R.M.C., The Black Keys, The White Stripes.
Don't leave home without: Your American Spirit cigarettes.
Chances of indie-rock stardom: one in eight.
click to enlarge Toro Y Moi
  • Toro Y Moi
Type 3: The Lo-Fi Loner
You are: One guy with some cheap old-school synths and lots of effects boxes.
You play: Chillwave (i.e, dancey, low-fi psychedelic synth-pop).
Your look: Doesn't matter, since you write and record in the bedroom.
You hail from: Somewhere too sunny for your pale ass to go outside.
Most likely: You were born in the '80s.
Examples: Baths, Memory Tapes, Toro Y Moi.
Don't leave home without: Professed disbelief at how much attention your bedroom jams have received.
Chances of indie-rock stardom: one in two.

click to enlarge Fuck Buttons
  • Fuck Buttons
Type 4:  The Trippy Knob-Twisters
You are: Two to four guys (who love noise).
You play: Abstract, instrumental psychedelic electronica.
Your look: Utterly unremarkable, with a hat hiding your face onstage (not that you look at the crowd anyway).
You hail from: Somewhere rainy.
Most likely: You don't play any "real" instruments, but you have lots of toy ones.
Examples: Holy Fuck, Fuck Buttons, Nice Nice
Don't leave home without: A handy quote about how you don't care whether people "get" your music.
Chances of indie-rock stardom: one in five.

click to enlarge Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
  • Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Type 5: The Big Happy Indie Family
You are: Six to twenty boys and girls who all hang out occasionally.
You play: Rambling, layered, loose folk-rock (with artiness and dance influences inserted as appropriate).
You hail from: Some socialist country north of the U.S., or some quasi-socialist California city.
Most likely: One guy really does all the work.
Examples: Broken Social Scene, Edward Sharpe And the Magnetic Zeros, Still Flyin'.
Don't leave home without: the Costco card.
Chances of indie-rock stardom: one in four (but you'll have to split your earnings among all those people).

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Ian S. Port


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