Genre, Subgenre, Micro-genre


“It’s been done before.” We’ve all heard that jargon, right? For as long as I can remember there have been those who believe that popular culture peaked in some era long ago and anything can we create now exists as some kind of reproduction or emulation of another artists work. Personally, I understand where they are coming from. In the 21st century, we live in a hodgepodge of subculture and internet memes. Musical genres have bred subgenres which have split into micro-genres. These labels become increasingly meaningless as past definitions of words like “indie rock” and “alternative rock,” are no longer relevant. Is a hipster someone who drinks organic coffee, wears flannel and grows a beard out? Or is hipster an umbrella term used by other generations to define millennials? Who is a hipster? Who knows? Very few have ever been proud to own that label.

Many of us reach the point where we ask ourselves “what the fuck are we doing here?” We’re not curing cancer; we’re not ending world hunger. We’re bouncing from show to show trying to find entertainment, inspiration or even relief. Some emulate pop culture from the 60s, 70s, or 80s...lately the 90s have been back with vengeance. Slap tons of reverb on a band and call it “psych” combine a ton of reverb and some phaser and you’ve got a “shoegaze revival” band. By no means am I suggesting that all contemporary bands considering themselves “psych” or “shoegaze revival” are garbage. Plenty of these bands are out there doing their thing and making amazing music. It’s only a problem when bands exist that don’t need to exist, or all the performers on a given bill sound exactly the same. Or when we all try so hard to be the black sheep, that we all become black sheep. When we are surrounded by hordes of people who think they are different, and in the end we end up being the same.  

Then something happens, you hear a sound unlike anything you’ve heard before, you see something that moves you, you meet someone so authentic that it shakes you to the core. You find some soul that makes all this genre, subgenre and micro-genre business completely obsolete. You begin to look forward rather than backwards.

The problem isn’t any kind of hipster aesthetic; the real problem is a lack of imagination and authenticity. To those out there living authentic and inspired lives I salute you. To those making revolutionary new music I commend you. With the technology available in the 21st century, and the paradigm shift in the music industry so much is possible. Those of us who say “everything’s been done before,” risk sounding like skeptics of the 1800s who believed that all the useful inventions man could create had already been invented. The true limits we face are not those that have been established in the past but by those of our own imagination. Regardless of what some may say, there is no better time to be a fan or musician than now.