Australian Independent Alternative Music Information
Australian independent (indie) or alternative music fills a space left by rock and pop music. It goes with music and dance, radios and i-pods and it is more diverse, creative and real. There is less emphasis on big production values and more emphasis on songwriting and structure than there is with pop and rock music.
Australian indie music labels are important ‘because they’re usually willing to take a chance with their hearts and not their wallets’ (SpeaknSpell).
History of Australian indie music
Indie music is said to have resulted from the punk movement which began in the 1970s. With the punk movement came a formation of a new style of music, new bands, and independent music labels generally ran from backyard operations.
One of the pioneering bands for indie music in Australia was a Brisbane-based punk rock band, The Saints. Sir Bob Geldof labelled ‘The Saints as one of the three most influential punk bands of the ’70s’. The Saints formed in 1974 and released their first, independently produced, single ‘(I’m) Stranded’, in late 1976. This single was released well before the British punk idols the Sex Pistols.
The ’80s set a solid foundation for the indie music scene. One of the most successful Australian indie bands of this period was The Go-Betweens. The Go-Betweens began with simple pop tunes that had a new-age edge and progressed, in later albums, to a sound consisting of semi-spoken vocals, complex lyrics and melodic guitar pop.
The ’80s also brought about many successful Australian indie bands including the Hoodoo Gurus, Radio Birdman and the Beasts of Bourbon. Forming in 1986, the Plug Uglies were described by the Time Off Magazine as inner-city Sydney indie band that stood at arm’s length from so many of their peers, while busily forging a distinctive path of their own.
The new generation that came from punk rock
The lines where rock music ends and other styles begin is blurring today and true to this, the progression of indie music is increasingly becoming less about the signing label and more about the uniqueness of their sound.
Indie dance music
Australia followed the UK’s lead in indie dance music, with a range of genres and mixes covering break, drum ‘n bass, dub, electronica, down tempo, funk/soul/disco, hardcore, techno/electro/minimal, hip hop, house, trance and hard dance becoming increasingly popular since the 1990s. DJs and MCs have emerged with the indie dance music scene, with night clubs as typical venues. Indie dance bands and DJs include Kid Kenobi, Resin Dogs, Sneaky Sound System and The Potbelleez.
Festivals such as the Big Day Out, The Falls Festival and The Homebake Festival give Australian bands exposure. The Homebake Festival only stages Australian bands, and every year have had a good representation of bands from the indie music genre.
The key support for indie artists and labels is the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR). AIR is a non-profit and non-government association that supports the development of the Australian independent music sector.
For more information and resources about Australian pop, rock, indie and alternative music click through.