Little known fact, Ben Downing has been speaking the English language for 98.1% of his life. Because it isn’t his first language, Ben often faces spelling challenges such as “eficancy” (efficiency) and “clinc” (clinic). Also, there is a language barrier when it comes to math. When asked what “5 times ⅔” was, he responded promptly with “nineteen-thirds”.
Caleb Ziems is also a treasure trove of fun facts and information. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Caleb for seven years and one thing I’ve learned about him is that he values his computer above all else. He loves it so much that he would rather catch a virus than his computer catch one. And one time we were trying to watch Borat, but neither of us owned it so I went to this super shady website to try and torrent it, and then I got the “spinning beach ball of death” on my Mac and I have never seen a person freak out so much as he did. But more than that, Caleb is also one of the most intelligent people I know, especially in math. Like he could teach our Calculus class how to do the lessons, and he’d do just fine.
So what then do these two people share in common? The answer is simple: music. Both Caleb and Ben have a passion for music, but specifically Indie music. Now, if you don’t know Indie (short for independent) music is defined by “being produced independently from major commercial record labels, or their subsidiaries, a process that may include an autonomous, do-it-yourself approach to recording and publishing”. In layman’s terms, that’s music that wouldn’t be played on the Pop music station.
Of course, there has to be a way for a person to get into Indie music, and I was curious as to how one could start to get into Indie music. So I asked Caleb how he got into Indie music, and his was an interesting story of connections. He said, “It all kind of started with Blink-182. See, I liked them a lot in middle school, especially Tom DeLonge (the lead singer). When Blink-182 broke up I followed him to his new band Angels and Airwaves, which was similar, but not so “punk rock-y”. And then from there I started to come across more Indie bands and found out that I like them.”
It’s not necessarily a rule of the genre, but indie music tends to be a bit more “folky” (think Mumford and Sons) than standard pop music. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. A lot of indie music can be electronic in nature, while still being not “mainstream”. And this is what Ben Downing says he likes so much about Indie Music. “It’s just that the electronic stuff makes you feel so good. It reminds me of summer and just relaxing and puts me in a better place.”
But for people like Caleb, it is that folk aspect that draws him to the genre. I asked him what he thought the largest difference was between pop music and indie and he replied simply, “artistry”. I asked him to elaborate a bit more and his answer was actually really well thought out and articulated: “See for me, it’s about the quality of the music. In pop what you find are little four-chord hooks and repetitive choruses to try and get something stuck in your head. I really hate that. What I really like are the intricacies that indie artists manage to weave into their music. It doesn’t have to be the most elegant finger picking guitar or banjo, though. Sometimes it’s just a warm guitar and bass line.” And while he was talking to me about this, it was the passion in his eyes and Ben’s that told me how much they really do care about their music.
So, this summer, maybe give the pop radio station a break and branch out. Go listen to an album from a band you’ve never heard of before, in a genre you didn’t even know existed. Maybe listen to it with some friends. You never know, you might just find your next favorite band.