Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ambition is pollution

A friend of mine was blogging the other day about his new indiepop dance night, wondering why he felt deflated during the second one of those. Earlier that day I was having a look at the playlist from that night and swooning because it was one marvellous song after another and, as I've really missed dancing with abandon, I was imagining myself there that night, imagining the breathlessness and the sheer happiness of being there at that moment, something I only get when I dance to an indiepop song I love. I just couldn't figure out how a night like that could make anyone feel not quite right - but, of course, I've been there and I should know. The fear of an empty dancefloor is enough to make a drunken dj sober. The fear of people not recognising any other Sea Urchins songs apart from 'Christine Pristine' and therefore not moving. The terror of realising that the Eux Autres song that brought you to your knees the other night (and which you hurriedly wrote down so that you wouldn't forget to play at your night) draws a blank with most people around you. What are you supposed to do?

Well, I don't know. My answer was to shut the shop for a bit and enjoy hearing other people's records. Maybe the answer is to keep going and keep it as safe as can be. But what's the limit of compromise and why would you want to compromise anyway? If there is one amazing thing about listening to a genre of music that no-one ever really cares about apart from your friends and some weirdos off the internet, that is the fact that you do it on your own terms. There is no pressure apart from the pressure you put on yourself to try and make everyone understand why you're so crazy about that music. And what happens if they don't care? Do you give up? We learnt from Stoke! that that's out of the question. 

When that dancefloor's full, all the kids look so beautiful. We bloody do and all. And I've been on dancefloors with five people dancing who filled it with so much love and such wide smiles that I felt ready and willing to expire there and then, just die of sparkliness and lack of breath.

People on the indiepop list were discussing illegal downloading a few days ago and the conversation moved to the value of pop music and someone mentioned the lack of ambition that seems to permeate indiepop. But that's our blessing! Not being bothered about whether you want to make money out of music is not a petit bourgeois sentiment, it's proof that you'd rather do it anyway, free from the compromises of capitalism. If we can't avoid living within this oppressive, status-driven system, we can at least enjoy removing ourselves from it during the little time we've got left, float above its suffocating restrictions and just do what we want to do (write music, release records, play records, write fanzines) without fear or sparing a single thought for the future. 

It's what we do here now that matters with music. Ambition and compromise is what makes mainstream music awful, it makes it into a job for the people who write it. And jobs are shit, we all know that.

11 comments:

Pete Green said...

What's the emoticon for "Marianthi should be president of the Universe"?

Dimitra Daisy said...

Heehee, yes, I want an emoticon for "what Marianthi said! I love her!". It would come in handy on Anorak.

A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation about indiepop with a non-indiepop friend, and he said that he finds indiepop perfectly pleasant, it's the fact that it has no ambition that he can't stand. I think he thought I would be insulted or something but instead I said "yes! That's it! That's exactly the point!" And went on a little rant about Think Small, the boy, the blog, and the song (#2).

Dimitra Daisy said...

Oh, but I forgot to say, I actually like my job. I still agree with everything you say though...

jennifer said...

Marianthi = the eternal optimist. Nothing can bring you down in the the popworld, girl! You're very lucky to be surrounded by a community of like-minded pop fans who share your devotion and ideals.

Dig the My Favorite reference in here too. Jennifer always approves of My Favorite. :-)

alex said...

This really says it all. I don't understand why people don't like dancing to songs they don't know even if it's a fun song. Then again, I don't understand most people all that much.

Of course, I have the opposite problem where I'd love to go out and dance to indie pop all the time but end up at awful club nights where they play the same two-bit indie all the time. Sigh.

Trev Lostmusic said...

I agree Marianthi. Do it for love, not money. And don't make it feel like a job. This is supposed to be about having fun. And I guess, I just, wanna add - having played records to 3 people for pleasure - the grin on my face when I did it - was the biggest it's ever been!

stevie said...

the last sentence is utter genius x

Dennis said...

Who are you calling weirdos?! ;)

It's a difficult choice sometimes. What's better: a handful dancing to your own very favourite song, or a roomful dancing to an also brilliant, but less 'original' song? Not a lot beats that roomful. I guess compromise is not always a bad thing as long as you're still having a wonderful time yourself. So the real question is: is it the smile on other people's faces that you're doing it for, or is it, more selfish, playing your own favourites louder than you ever can at home? But indeed, then again, if you don't try you'll never find out if that brilliant personal love will get people's feet moving. Luckily most indiepop songs aren't very long, so if one sweeps the floor empty, it doesn't take too long before you can kick in a pleaser...

People not dancing to Eux Autres = weirdos, though.

Marianthi said...

Thank you everyone!

Dennis! I'm not saying that you should be playing obscure favourites at all though. I think that's madness! But you should *always* be playing songs that you would dance to yourself - I was thinking of Hefner for example: they always make people dance but I don't like them so I'd never play them. But I do play the Wedding Present despite not being their biggest fan because they always make me dance! You're right, a full dancefloor (or an excited dancefloor) is a sight to behold.

Dennis said...

Of course you're right M.!

I miss being a DJ. All this talk of full dancefloors and brilliant songs is making me feel all nostalgic. Amsterdam needs a popnight.

Marianthi said...

Funnily enough, that's exactly what Martijn was saying on Saturday night as well! Start one, Dennis!