Indie Introductions

Believe it or not, I used to be completely mainstream. #SohipsterLOL

No.

Sorry. (#Sorrynotsorry?)

Ok, no. I’m really done. I hate people who say that.

Onto more serious topics—as serious as this girl can get—before college, I had completely no taste in music. But if you knew my music/pop culture background, this probably would surprise you. See, I was a music late bloomer. It’s exactly what it sounds like. In fact, I didn’t clue in to the fact that people (out there in the normal ‘verse) listened to music for enjoyment. All I knew about music was what classical piece I liked producing more!

Seventh grade was a real game changer for me. Glad that part of my life’s over. Onto bigger and better things!

Since none of you really know my music tastes, I’ll give you a quick rundown: Florence + the Machines (gonna get flack for listing this first), Local Natives, Grouplove, Noah and the Whale, Imagine Dragons, you get the gist.

Boy, it was a journey. I went from Top 40s to total indie.

And I know how intimidating tackling the huge pile of obscure artists can be. What do you like? What bands fit what you like? I didn’t even know where to start. Thankfully, my best friends from high school all were into the scene before I was and they were able to give me some help.

So, if you’re currently on a similar journey that I was, whether it’s to impress a hipster boy/girl with your music knowledge, here are some places to start. Also, indie usually means that their live performances are amazing. Indie artists usually look down on autotune, unless they’re obscure dub step/electro bands.

Side note: man, this really takes me back.

The Xx: what people usually imagine indie music to sound like; the echo-y, chill pace and tremulous boy/girl vocals that are almost slurred. This usually makes really good study music. It doesn’t bother you enough to make you want to rage along, but enjoyable. I loved them at first, mostly because I didn’t really know what I was into. While I still like them, I only listen to them when I’m reminiscent of my early indie days.

Florence + the Machine: while this she’s getting more mainstream (featured in Calvin Harris, Dog Days, etc), becoming mainstream only means that the new fans ONLY KNOW HER MOST POPULAR SONGS. Dude, every Florence song is worth a few listens. She’s amazing at what she does and her strong use of drums mixed with etherealness really gets me pumped. I saw her at Lollapalooza 2012 and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Like her music, Florence is so goddamn regal. Respect, girl.

Grouplove: I’ve been so obsessed with them lately because they’re so happy and make me want to dance! This is indie gold, my friends. Again, they’ve had some mainstream hits (Tongue Tied) but their other songs are always so much better. (remember this phrase and use it a lot. Hipster territory) Their clapping, both male and female vocalists, and tunes just.. so good!

The Givers: These are more grassroots and border on country if not for the echo-y feel that we all get. They’re really good live and usually use more acoustics :) They’re definitely indie because of the dissonance in their harmonies sometimes; also male and female vocalists.

Imagine Dragons: Again, this is happy music for me (can you tell I’m a happy person?!) but this kind of happy music also makes you feel… extremely badass. Like conquer-the-world badass. The heavy use of the distortion on the guitars, bass, and oh man. They’re also getting more mainstream, which I’m sad about. But I’m seeing them in concert sometime in March! :D super excited. 

Manchester Orchestra: If you like more heartfelt, amazing vocals, and less reliance on the instrumentals, this is definitely for you. Their lyrics are kind of sad sometimes because I know the lead singer has been through a lot in his lifetime. The fact that he can move on and produce such heartfelt music is amazing to me.

All the ones I’ve chosen always build to an awesome chorus. It just makes you feel amazing. I don’t know if it’s just my personal relationship with music, but it’s what it is. If you have any questions on your journey or any different requests, don’t hesitate to ask! And welcome to good music :)

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my love of coffeeshops

For my whole life, I have romanticized coffee. I associate coffee with a calm Sunday morning, occupying one of those lazy chairs right by the window of a Barnes and Noble, sinking deeper as I read an engrossing book. A place where you can be there anytime and be doing anything and it would be acceptable, whether alone, on a date, or with a large group.

Before, I was really open and unbiased about the type of coffeeshop that I frequent. I admit it, I started out as a big Starbucks fan. I was one of those teenyboppers anxious to get into the real world by including coffee into my daily regime–by drinking Frappacinos, which can hardly be called a coffee drink. In fact, Frappacinos are probably what lures the younger population into the coffee-drinking cycle by disguising the coffee taste with what we’re used to and what we like–fat and sugar. But then I started really drinking coffee, junior year of high school. But still a Starbucks frequent-flyer.

That all changed when I got to college. I was exposed to so many coffeeshops, but they were all still pretty mainstream. And I was fine with that–I still loved the atmosphere of normal coffeeshops. Especially one on a college campus. The atmosphere is… so intellectual and alive. It’s a great spot for people-watching, and yet still a great spot if you don’t want to be bothered.

I really didn’t know what I was missing until I visited a lesser-known coffeeshop today. A hipster coffeeshop, if you will. Cafe Ambrosia. 

I’ve never really defined myself as a hipster. But today, I’ve never felt happier or more at home in this coffeeshop. Sure it wasn’t as open and it reminded me of one of those street-corner diners in Taiwan. But the atmosphere. It was… more intelligent. Conversation was less cluttered by small talk and false liveliness and filled with more warmth, genuine, and interesting discussions.

I stayed there for 5 hours and it felt like 2. I listened in on conversations–and it didn’t feel like eavesdropping. The people talking were more than welcome if I were to jump into conversation. Which I didn’t. I thought I should take things slow.

I even discovered that Monday nights, they have a free documentary viewing at 7 PM. How cool is that? I think I’m definitely going to go one of these days. I love documentaries.

One downside to that coffeeshop is that everyone seems to know everyone already. And I can’t tell if it’s because they’re regulars or they’re just the same group of friends whose sole gathering spot is here every day. Many of them gather outside and smoke, but of the few inside, many of them knew the baristas.

I look forward to exploring this place more and eventually becoming a regular, myself! If none of the other coffeeshops call my name of course. There are so many colorful people that frequent, I’m bound to have an interesting conversation now and again. And really, that’s all I want. Some stimulating conversation and a place to call home.