Okay, this post is a stretch. I tend to make a lot of loose associations that sometimes leave others scratching their head. Here comes one.
I’m reading Our Band Could Be Your Life and I’m finding that the introduction to the DIY/indie music scene sounds a lot like Dawn Farm. Here are a few examples.
We talk a lot about not waiting for money (grants, contracts that will pay for a new service, etc.) or help to arrive when we see a need.
From the book, on “just doing it”:
…it was the punk ethos of DIY, or do-it-yourself. The equation was simple: If punk was rebellious and DIY was rebellious, then doing it yourself was punk. “Punk was about more than just starting a band,” former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt once said, “it was about starting a label, it was about touring, it was about taking control. It was like songwriting; you just do it. You want a record, you pay the pressing plant. That’s what it was all about.”
We often talk about the fact that we would not have survived without support from the recovering community. They’ve supported, encouraged and celebrated us, transforming our outsider status into a strength.
This realization turned the fate of the innovator—typically a constant uphill battle through obscurity, poverty, and frustration—upside down. In the microcosm of the independent label world, innovators could flourish, enjoy respect and admiration for their work, and actually be applauded and even rewarded for sticking with their vision.
Dawn Farm is well known (but not always loved) for asserting our independence. On maintaining independence:
In their wake, musicians asserted their right to create without outside meddling, and how strongly they did so became key to their credibility.
We’ve been talking recently about how we’re an organization that values storytelling. The narrative we’ve constructed provides a shared story for the staff and stakeholders, and that shared story creates a shared identity that influences the decisions and behavior of staff. (“People like us do things like that.) On the power of a shared identity:
…rock & roll was an intrinsic part of a young person’s soul, an engine of social change and not just a consumer commodity. “That decade was one where people felt enormously committed and enormously identified with music and culture, where people felt like it wasn’t just a background, it was your life,” says Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto. “It was part of the fiber of what you did.”
On authenticity, idealism and the movement being a reaction to the dominant culture. (In our case, the treatment culture.)
There are interesting parallels between indie rock and the folk movement of the early Sixties. Both hinged on purism and authenticity, as well as idealism about the power of music within culture and society; both were a reaction to shallow, complacent times and their correspondingly shallow, complacent entertainment…
The American underground in the Eighties embraced the radical notion that maybe, just maybe, the stuff that was shoved in our faces by the all-pervasive mainstream media wasn’t necessarily the best stuff.
The remarkable thing is the audience was as much a part of the do-it-yourself conspiracy as the bands and the labels.
On building relationships with the community the old fashioned way:
Indie bands proved you didn’t need those things [MTV and stadium concerts] to make a connection with an audience. In fact, you could make a better connection with your audience without them.
On being “old school”:
The indie movement was a reclamation of what rock was always about.
Dawn Farm “jams econo”!
Corporate rock was about living large; indie was about living realistically and being proud of it.
The Minutemen called it “jamming econo.” And not only could you jam econo with your rock group—you could jam econo on your job, in your buying habits, in your whole way of living. You could take this particular approach to music and apply it to just about anything else you wanted to. You could be beholden only to yourself and the values and people you respected. You could take charge of your own existence. Or as the Minutemen put it in a song, “Our band could be your life.”