The term 'indie' is one that has been thrown around a lot, and for a long time. When it first started being used in the music scene, it was used to refer to underground music that had not yet hit the mainstream. It literally is a short form for 'independent', implying independent from the mainstream. However, come the 80's, indie music started to break out of its private bubble and enter the world of more popular music. Once the mainstream caught on, the definition of 'indie' sort of got skewed. Is it now just a genre, rather than a subculture? And if it's a genre, is it artsy? folk? quirky? electronic? Or is it just a term used to refer to the record label that indie bands were signed to? Right now, I think it can be argued that there are too many sub-genres that can be classified under 'indie' to really have it be a specific genre in and of itself. So that leaves us with indie labels. These labels often lack funding, but still manage to get artists the recognition and attention that they need. One important thing to note though, is that many of the (ironically?) bigger indie labels are owned by larger, more famous labels. This sort of bastardization of the term 'indie' almost makes it feel as if the labels are taking advantage of the sense of elitism that people hate to admit they love when listening to undiscovered or smaller artists. But, if somebody likes the music, then that's all that should really matter! No need to get caught up in the politics if you're just a listener :)
Here in Toronto, we are known for our huge music culture. Many of Toronto's indie labels are known for hosting music festivals, sponsoring shows, and supporting small artists. Arts & Crafts Records for example has gained more fans since many of their bands are featured in the Field Trip Festival (which is coming up soon -- find out more here)! Some of the most well-known Canadian indie artists are even signed on to Toronto labels. Dine Alone, for example, has represented bands such as Alexisonfire, City and Colour, and the Arkells. New Damage has had the Architects and Silverstein signed on before, which definitely helped solidify their presence in Toronto's punk scene! Finally, Royal Mountain is another wonderful indie record label based in Toronto. They've signed bands like Hollerado, and even have an affordable studio right here in the 6ix! Most of their artists record at this studio, and some other bands even record here if they want a quality album on a budget!
What are some of your favourite Canadian/Toronto-based indie artists and labels? And what are your thoughts on the term 'indie'? We'd love to know!