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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Do Musicians Really Hate Being Categorized?

Posted by on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 8:55 AM

I’ve been reading musician interviews since, oh, 1976, and I can’t recall ever seeing a musician admit to enjoy being categorized or, as they like to say, being “put in a box.” (Hey, some boxes are spacious and comfortable. One shouldn’t reflexively knock boxes, is what I’m saying.)

However, I’ve long suspected that some musicians actually do like being classified, the more absurdly specific the better. Of course, the advent of social-media sites has led to most bands describing their own sound, and some do it in great detail, perhaps grimacing the whole time (self promo is a bitch). But corner these musicians in an interview and they’re all, “I hate being categorized; it’s so restricting, dude.” Uh-huh.

This calls for a poll among the musicians out there.


Comments (6) RSS

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I don't mind being categorized, but I can find it tricky to categorize my own music. Not because it's unprecedented, but just because I'm too close to it to see it as part of a category - especially without using the ever-more meaningless "indie" word. But if someone else wants to stick it in a category that's somewhat appropriate, by all means go for it.
Posted by Levislade on June 28, 2012 at 9:10 AM · Report this
I have no objection to music categorization, it's a way of expressing a general "band vibe" to an audience that doesn't necessarily have any frame of reference, but a lot of times I find it exceedingly lazy on the part of the reviewer. It's a way to listen to 30 seconds of a song, slap on an arbitrary name, and send in your fluff piece. No band is separate their influences, of course, but there are very many other interesting things to consider, which I find are often overlooked.

What is the live show like? Where does the album art come from? What is the band's perspective on the changing music industry? What are the concepts addressed in the songs? What role does the band play in the music community? What are they trying to do?

Yes I know that using washed out guitar and vocal effects makes it sound shoegaze, but what is the intent behind their ironic album title and how might that change our perspective on their sound?
Posted by Alicia1000 on June 28, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
Well said @1.
Posted by pox on June 28, 2012 at 11:18 AM · Report this
cosby 4
When I read about a new band, I want to be sold on them in 30 words or less. Any categorization, influence, or other concise descriptive adjectives are all I look for. Artists, I feel, don't like categories because of ego. No one wants to be summed up in one easily edible grouping of words, even when 95% of all artists can easily be described in 5 seconds or less. Artists not wanting to be "boxed in" is an inevitable as another sunrise.
Posted by cosby on June 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Report this
I just hate when I find out someone is in a band and I ask what their stuff sounds like and they can't tell me *anything*. "It doesn't really fit into a category exactly, it's like we have so many influences and every song is so different," blablabla. Just give me a reference point for god's sake! I usually ask these people who they'd open for in their fantasy world and that usually gets them talking.
Posted by Chris Pollina on June 28, 2012 at 2:06 PM · Report this
What I would love is to get a look at the attributes Pandora has assigned to my music and just use that, but I think they keep that stuff under wraps.
Posted by Levislade on June 28, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Report this

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