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.