I woke up this morning to find pieces of hair in the bathroom basket. Which reminded me that when I arrived last night, after drinking some wine, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to tidy up my fringe. I had been at the AIM Awards – the annual ceremony in which the Independent Music Association rewards those in the independent music scene, and I was very honored to receive an award for the outstanding contribution to music.
The hair in the basket this morning is a testament to the fact that I have always adopted a "do-it-yourself" approach for both my hair and my music.
Almost 40 years ago, with my band Marine Girls, I made my first record – which means that we recorded our songs on an eight track recorder, then we brought the cassette to a copy service, where we had done 50 cassette. Then we colored our sleeves in our bedrooms, sold some copies to friends and put an ad in the back of the NME. If you sent a mail order to my home address, the address of my parents' house, in effect, I would send you a tape. My beginnings were as independent as you can get.
We also signed Cherry Red Records, whose head Iain McNay was the one who had the idea of an independent standings in 1980. I have a cutout of the indie chart of 1982 that has "Night and Day" by Everything But The Girl at number 1 and "On My Mind" by the Marine Girls at number nine.
I was rooted in that era, in the wake of punk and post-punk, and in that particular moment of independence. Small labels had always existed, releasing every type of music, but the explosion of the late 70's focused on lo-fi garage bands and anti-rock-provocative, passionately committed to low production values. , the avoidance of clichés and a semi-political conviction in the notions of demystification and anti-star.
These values came to define what the word "indie" meant and, ironically, over time, they themselves became something of a formula and a prison. When the word "indie" started to refer more to a set of rules on anorak and fringes, to the way you held the guitar, the way you did not use the microphone, I started to think it was less useful as an ideal progressive and I moved away.
But last night at the awards ceremony, I was reminded of the true meaning and value of the independent music scene. The gongs were given to Jorja Smith, Peggy Gou, Dave, Idles, Erasure, Let & # 39; s Eat Grandma and the Ninja Tune label – home of Bicep, Kelis, Kate Tempest, Wiley and Young Fathers.
We are very far from the independent meaning of the guitar music made by the boys. The scene has never been just that and it will never be.
There was an energy in the room that was contagious, and also, without wanting to seem hypocritical, a certain humility. Nobody made a speech that ended, everyone was grateful and to the point. Yes, it was rather professional, not insanely hedonistic or rude, but perhaps the independent scene has always had a laborious ethic at its center: the awareness that you were doing it yourself because no one else would have given you the chance, the awareness that there was no excess money to blink or waste, and the shared feeling that you were making music for his love, not necessarily to make a fortune.
Nadine Shah spoke about refugees and the fun to tick each box being a Muslim woman of Geordie. Goldie made everyone laugh by referring to a score – hastily adding that he meant a musical score, and not drugs. And the Scottish producer and composer Sophie, who won the Innovator Award, said that all artists are essentially innovators and independent spirits.
Those of us who have had our spells in the hugs of the big labels, trying to make that compromise, have often ended up in bitter quarrels, craving the return to freedom, the pure enjoyment and the empowerment of doing it for themselves themselves. Cut your hair! Create your record! The excitement of being independent never dies and last night blew into the room like fresh air.