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The term ‘indie’ in the music industry has become so ambiguous it has practically become as subjective as the meaning of life. Whichever way it is defined, it is still a massive part of the music industry in the UK and across the globe.

Originally, indie referred to how an artist distributed their music. Over the decades, it became a catch-all term for artists sharing the same sonic off-kilter edge; and, of course, the same moody yet inexplicably cool aesthetic. Indie, as a genre, only came around as the result of experimental artists in the 70s wanting to bring a new sound to the airwaves; instead of solely hoping for commercial success after appeasing one of the major record labels.

Indie artists adopted punk ethos they started to push the boundaries of pop. Instead of commercialising their sound, they pushed it into post-punk, shoegaze, synthpop, Britpop, avant-garde, noise rock and dream pop arenas. For all that separates bands such as Sonic Youth, the Cure, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Joy Division, Elliott Smith and Radiohead, there is still so much that ties them together, namely their attitudes and the loud discordant style.

Along with the bands, iconic venues such as the 100 Club in London, the Hacienda in Manchester, and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow had a pivotal part to play in the traction of independent artists and music. New Indie labels, such as Rough Trade and Factory Records, were amongst the first record labels to truly embrace and encourage experimentalism and authenticity in the artists they scouted and signed – taking New Order and Joy Division as a prime example.

It may have been a while since there was an indie breakthrough act as successful as the Arctic Monkeys, but indie music has far from lost its resonance. Besides, Monkeys won over 42 awards and sold over 20 million records, so that’s going to take some beating, and they’re certainly not the only indie artists currently thriving.

The Welsh indie rock icons, the Manic Street Preachers, celebrated their first number 1 album in 23 years with the release of Ultra Vivid Lament in 2021. The Tarantino-Esque Liverpool outfit, Red Rum Club, released their debut album in 2019, and got to number 14 in the official album sales chart with their album, How to Steal the World, in 2021. Perhaps most impressively, the world’s first CryptoPunk rapper, Spottie Wifi, made just under $200k in album NFT sales in 90 seconds this year.

Interview: Chicago’s Dust Biters guides us through the redemption on Progeny

Dust Biters is a Chicago-based indie alternative 4-piece post-hardcore metal band who savage the speakers with a spellbinding reaction on each one of their heavy tracks. They speak to us about, coffee, risk-taking, Progeny and much more.

Hello there Dust Biters. We appreciate you having a chat with us today. Where in the world are you located as we speak and what did you all have for breakfast?

Dust Biters: Hi! We’re from Chicago. We’ve all had lots of coffee and need more.

Let’s start at the beginning. Where/how/when did the band start and who are the current members?

Dust Biters: Nick Miller and Nick Kinsley actually met back in high school in Michigan. Kinsley was a fan of Miller’s technical metal band, Flesh and Blood Robot. They became friends and started writing music for a new project. Kinsley ended up moving to Chicago and Miller ended up moving to Pittsburgh, but a decade or so later Miller relocated to Chicago and convinced Kinsley to pick up the guitar again. They started writing 80’s hair metal riffs on Miller’s couch which became the foundation for the songs “Unholy Gospel” and “Creature Man”. Initially, the idea of the band was to write songs that were straightforward 3-chord punk and rock, but that didn’t last very long. Nick Miller and Tommy van Arsdale were colleagues and had talked ad nauseam about music and Tommy’s previous bands in which he played drums, guitar, and piano. Miller asked Tommy to session with them on drums and the three booked time at a studio in Chicago. It became clear after the first session that this was something to pursue, so they found a permanent rehearsal space and began practicing as a trio. Bryan Fonseca joined Kinsley’s work, and again through the serendipity of talking about music learned that Kinsley was looking for a bass player for the new project. Bryan, traditionally a guitarist, was quick to pick up the bass and learn the parts. Bryan’s personality fit seamlessly with the group so we decided to move forward and thus Dust Biters was formed.

Please let us more about your latest single Progeny and the vision behind the release.

Dust Biters: “Progeny” is a song Nick Kinsley wrote about his kids. It’s a song about redemption, forgiveness, and growth. We just released a companion music video, and in contrast, the narrative revolves around a narcissistic cult leader who grows tired of the perpetual, blind worship of his harem and secretly poisons them in a final move of selfishness and desperation to start a new existence. You can watch it on our YouTube channel now.

Guilt is the name of your new 12-track album. Please guide us into the process of completing the project in the way you wanted.

Dust Biters: The first and most important step to getting Guilt recorded was finding an engineer that understood our songs and the goal for our sound because we didn’t really know what we were trying to do. Once Alex Lackner (Accelerated Sound Studios, Lazarus AD) was signed on to engineer the record, it was full steam ahead. We tracked a majority of the record in our studio while the vocals and finishing touches were recorded at Alex’s studio. We spent a lot of time getting the mix right. Guilt is a record that we are very proud of and we’re excited that people are responding so positively to it.

What’s an important piece of advice you’d recommend to anyone working in the music industry?

Dust Biters: Be genuine and ruthless with your art. Take creative risks. Embrace limitations. Practice consistently. Make real connections and support others. Seek feedback and consider all forms of criticism. In 2023, writing good music is only half of the work to get noticed. Be ready to put yourself out there.

What is the vibe like at the local underground music venues in your local area after all the closures previously due to COVID?

Dust Biters: We’re lucky. Chicago has a great, supportive local scene and awesome venues like Empty Bottle, Live Wire, The Burlington, Liar’s Club, Cobra Lounge, and Reggie’s which thankfully all weathered Covid. Like many of our friends, we spent the majority of lockdown writing and practicing so that when it became safer and venues began opening up, we were hungry and prepared to get on stages and play live.

Last, if you could tour with any band in the world, who would it be and why?

Dust Biters: Ha! I think we would all answer this differently, and I don’t think we could decide on just one without a lengthy debate, but if we had to name two bands it would be Glassjaw and a resurrected Every Time I Die.

Listen up on Spotify. Check out the IG page for more.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Italian-Ghanaian pianist BeccasMelodies keeps it rather mellow on the Playground

With so much serene beauty and a tranquil state of affairs to take us all back to school days, BeccasMelodies washes all the stress away with a youthful track to remember fun times with on Playground.

BeccasMelodies aka Rebekah Obeng is an Italian-Ghanaian pianist and music producer who makes timelessly calm classics to relax even the most stressed mind.

Her latest track “Playground” evokes a sense of nostalgia and innocence. It’s a place where people of all ages come together to play and have fun, and she wanted to capture that feeling in her music. The playground also symbolizes the idea of embracing childhood and letting go of adult responsibilities, which is a refreshing and powerful message.” ~ BeccasMelodies

Gliding rather freely and without anything flashy to get confused about, BeccasMelodies gets us away from a sleepy slumber and back into munching peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Playground from Italian-Ghanaian pianist and music producer BeccasMelodies is one of the more tranquil singles anyone is likely to release in 2023. Soaked into so much mellow vibrancy and taking us on a lo-fi dream to get engaged with, this is a rather memorable track to fuse tightly inside.

Listen up to this new single on Spotify. View more vibes on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Taking Air: Minneapolis alt-pop band Not Ideal has nothing discouraging to share on Thriving

Shifting away from anything which wasn’t helping the entire expedition blossom, Not Ideal glides through the rainbow of opportunity after the heavy downpours with Thriving.

Not Ideal is a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based indie alternative pop 3-piece act that has a fascinating sound which might remind some of a special time in music.

Eller and Grage have cemented their Minnesota roots, but Oldham reigns from the fertile crescent of Manchester, England. Together, they reflect the styles, sounds, and essence of both regions.” ~ Not Ideal

With the bridge about to break and creaking open like a rumbling stomach, Not Ideal reminds us of happier times with a monumental performance to revel deep inside. This is top-notch stuff and seems to have the power of change emboldened deep within the veins of our ravenous arms.

Thriving from Minneapolis, Minnesota-based indie alt-pop band Not Ideal is a sterling track which deserves all the love possible. Rampant in class and defining quality, we find an experience which will leave many previously sad hearts feeling whole again.

View more on YouTube. See more on the IG page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Madishu is a contemporary electro-pop cut above the rest in her hypersonically redemptive single, Naïve

Madishu

The Austrian electro-pop artist, Madishu, is off the sonic Richter scale in her latest single, Naïve. The piercing RnB-tinged electro-pop aesthetic will ensnare you from the first melodic hook, while the lyrical vulnerability pushes you deeper into the soulfully disarming hypersonic world, which will be a hit with any fans of 8 Bit-adjacent music.

If any artist can relinquish you from the shame of being naïve, it is Madishu with this addictively vindicating earworm which effortlessly demonstrates the beauty in sincerity when there’s such a scarcity.

“The song is about a toxic friendship I broke free from, and the journey I took in learning to value myself enough to no longer tolerate people who constantly take from me without giving back.”

After achieving viral renown via her collaboration with MOONBOY on the track Need U and off the back of her own original work, the Austrian singer-songwriter is a vision of visceral colour in a drab and dark world.

Naïve will officially stream across all major platforms on February 3rd. Hear it here.

Follow Madishu on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Review by Amelia Vandergast.

Look Better In Person: 3smuni prays for those close locked up in the system with Overseas

Showing us so much re-energized enthusiasm and compelling dynamite, 3smuni displays a compelling verve and shall drain away all doubts in the sink with Overseas.

3smuni is a South Africa-born London-based indie hip-hop artist & multi-instrumentalist who fuses drill, US and grime soundscapes into his own transcendent way.

Exhibiting to us what the youngsters are listening to as we speak, 3smuni is that young new school artist who seems to possess a rare insight into what is going to define the next generation. Absorbed in quality and always progressive, this is a thunderous display which will please many who love to hear what tomorrow is bringing.

Overseas from London-based indie hip-hop artist 3smuni is a magnificent track which will take our minds away from any current stresses and mould our minds into the future. Launched with a rather illumination-filled fragrance and never losing its shine for a second, we find a rather remarkable effort when the world needed it most.

Turn this up loud on Spotify. See more news on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Excellent Irish electronic artist Coex drops a modern-day classic on Hold Me

Transcending through the tempers and finding a happier place, Coex shows us the hype is real on the superb new track to play rather loud on Hold Me.

Fused fantastically by Cormac Crehan and Feargal, Coex is an Ireland-born, West London-raised indie electronic artist and visionary creative with a particular skill set which is only getting better.

”’When writing this track it just seemed to flow as if I was making a DJ set’ explains Cormac, ‘then the rest was just getting the sound design to emulate what I was hearing in my head’. There’s a whole raft of new Coex material in the pipeline, but please don’t expect any consistency in the musical direction, he operates in almost polar opposition to those ideals: “I tend to make music that just encapsulates what I am feeling in that moment as best I can. Being quite an intensely temperamental person, this tends to change quite dramatically from song to song.” ~ Cormac Crehan

Floating into our minds with so much foot-tapping happiness, Hold Me from Coex is one of the best singles of 2023 without doubt.

Righly lauded on the underground and flowing to the top, this is the kind of song which causes drinks to be spilt. Maximum vibration and packed with much might, moving eyes from all current fights and into a much more welcome light.

Hold Me from West London-raised indie electronic artist Coex is one of the more mood-boosting experiences anyone is likely to hear. There is a mass abundance of quality here on offer to heal the heart and get those feet tapping joyously again. Each second is rather riveting and will excite many who crave new heroes to look up to.

Listen up on SoundCloud. See more on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Oxfordshire sound designer Mosa has unveiled his poetically postmodernist score, helicopter

Game composer by day and sound designer by night, the Oxfordshire-based artist Mosa evidently has a talent for creating immersive worlds. If anyone can exhibit the intrinsic beauty in melancholy, it is Mosa; his latest single, helicopter, is the ultimate testament to his ability to build poetry and a bitter-sweet neo-classic electronica score from scorned emotion.

Juxtaposingly creating an even balance between etherealism and visceralism, helicopter is an achingly artful aural memoir of ennui. The postmodernist reflective piece enmeshes you within the lyrical and vocal vulnerability, while the intricately weaved cinematic layers conceptually depict curtains closing. It is the ultimate consolation for outliers through the sonic resonance and affirmation that whatever you’re sinking into has sunk many of the beautiful minds that came before you.

Helicopter will land on February 3rd. Get onboard via SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Step Into The Neon Light: Alli Gemini skyrockets to the greatest heights possible on Wings

Songs from the Heart by Alli Gemini

Taken from her splendidly authentic debut 5-track EP Songs from the Heart, the kind Welsh angel Alli Gemini helps us to stay young forever on the exquisite new single to heal all sad souls with on Wings.

Alli Gemini is a Crickhowell, Wales-based indie pop singer-songwriter/actor who has the kind of mesmerizing beauty intertwined into her spirit which will heal all gloomy eyes.

This track was inspired about a dancer that is unable to dance finally dances again. It is about anyone that has a dream.” ~ Alli Gemini

Showing us the inner power of a dream possible if believed in enough, Alli Gemini projects our thoughts towards a happier perspective on this ear-opening soundtrack to never giving up. Sung so elegantly and showered with so much to ponder, this is a rather important single which is so relatable.

Wings from Crickhowell, Wales-based indie pop singer-songwriter Alli Gemini is a truly glorious song from an incredibly kind heart who has reminded us what pure intentions sound like. Her vocals seem to ease the pain and soothe the soul from the harshness of current-day reality.

Listen up to this lovely new single on Bandcamp. See more news on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Forgot How To Breathe: Kayla Friend longs for that sweet kiss again on valentine’s day

Witnessing that torn page and reminiscing for a tender touch to change the day, Kayla Friend propels us through the lonesome nights and sings with such an affectionate beauty on valentine’s day.

Experienced in both the desert and the big city life, Kayla Friend is a Hemet, California-born indie singer-songwriter who appears to have the resourceful tendencies needed to succeed.

In some strange culmination of recent events, Kayla Friend’s valentine’s day is an accurate representation of our current world. There is so much love to give. Some would say endless. Somehow however something is off like a cruel game is being played on those who crave a genuine touch. In a sometimes meaningless and plastic time for humanity, this is the sad reality when the heart gets broken too many times.

valentine’s day from the San Antonio-based creative Kayla Friend is such a sweetly-toned track to rid all worries away into the closet. Helping us heal with a true story, this is a hold-me-tight-single for anyone feeling rather let down. Reminding us to go back into the moment and appreciate the love, no matter how short the kiss was.

Love can be harsh sometimes after all.

Hear this fine song on Spotify. See more on the IG music page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Saw that photo of you both: Katija feels like a heartbroken fool on the vibrant new release Won’t Waste My Time

Hiding those tears away as she feels so used from a past heartbreak, Katija sings with so much astonishing quality and a drive which will surely inspire many to wipe those traumas away on Won’t Waste My Time.

Katija is an Auckland, New Zealand-based indie pop singer-songwriter who is a proudly queer artist on a mission to spread her message to the world.

She previously has been a blues singer, gigging regularly around Auckland, and brings her blues style of vocals to the pop genre. She also was the organizer of the “Proud Mary” queer dance parties that celebrated female artists and DJs, the ethos of celebrating musicians and artists from all walks of life is dear to her heart.” ~ Katija

Delving into our deepest mindsets with so much care and love, Katija is truly outstanding in her latest gem which might put everything in perspective again. Moving on from the pain with an influential performance, we find a song made for anyone who has felt romantically let down recently.

Won’t Waste My Time from Auckland, New Zealand-based indie pop musician Katija is one of the most dynamic singles anyone is likely to hear in 2023. Accomplished with exquisite energy which will heal sad ears from any sadness, this is a must-listen from a courageous soul who is only gaining more self-awareness by the minute.

Turn this up loud on Spotify. See more energy on her IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen