Indiepop is often cited as a style of music, but that can't be quite right. There is certainly a sound to it, but there is also a spirit. In May 1993 Stephen Pastel of the band The Pastels wrote in the liner notes to their Truckload of Trouble compilation release: "Please dont think of us as an 'indie band' as it was never meant to be a genre, and anyway we are too outward looking for that sad tag". In a sense, though, Pastel's remark sums up part of the indie spirit: a defiant spirit, not wanting to be tagged, or grouped.
There is a big political side to the concept of indie. It is apparant in Pastels' remark. Also, read the liner notes for the Sarah Records Shadow Factory compilation. In quick: indie is pro-community, anti-corporate, anti-establishment, liberal, humanitarian.
A big part of what independent music is is the spirit of the people involved. There is often an anti-corporate, and D.I.Y. spirit. Bands tend to congregate around each other as friends, and tend to release music on local labels run by their friends, rather than national music conglomerates looking to make more money. It's not that independent music has anything against making money, it's just that independeint musicians think alot is lost in trying to do it.
And yet it's not just music. It's about community. Like in Olympia. It finds its ways into music festivals like Bowlie, yoyo a gogo, Popfest, International Pop Underground, Ladyfest. It finds its way into literature. Read Alistair Fitchett's book Young and Foolish. Find an old Sarah Records fanzine, or a Caff Corporation zine. Find an old Shalala flexi.
In the 1980's and early 1990's some of the most influential bands and labels were:
In recent years the indiepop torch is carried by these bands, labels, and places:
But a great deal of what indiepop is, a great deal of where indie politically situates itself, is, like Pastel says, in the resistance of these tags, in the resistance of figures, in the resistance of 'buying into', in the resistance of conformism. In a sense, then, it isn't right to produce here a list of indiepop bands and labels and fanzines and personalities, because that's not what indie is all about.