If you think about it, being original shouldn’t be that hard. If we define original as “having a distinct perspective and vision”, we have to admit that we all see the world through a different lens, right? This will inevitably have an influence on your creative decisions and overall songwriting as a musician.
These three original indie artists have managed to do just that: be inspired by musicians that came before them and evolve their sound while keeping themselves grounded and loyal to their true selves.
Original Indie Artists: Our Pick
Our pick’s criteria for this blog are based on three key elements that we think make up an original artist:
- Authenticity (artists that have stayed true to themselves avoiding the temptation to impersonate or imitate others)
- Evolution (artists that continuously evolve and grow through experimentation with genres, instruments, etc.)
- Emotion (artists that have the ability to convey genuine emotions and connect on a deep emotional level)
Let’s dive in!
Beabadoobee: The Freckled Angel
Growing up, Beabadoobee who goes by the birth name of Beatrice Laus realised her first secret talent was writing. 7 years learning the violin and covered her first Britney Spears song at age 7, but her natural affinity with music and art of the 90s and early 2000s runs deep: Kimya Dawson, Elliot Smith, Bats, Veruca Salt, Alanis Morissette, Pavement, and Sonic Youth.
In 2017, Beabadoobee released her debut single titled “Coffee,” which she recorded in her bedroom. In her own words, “the first official song I ever wrote and one my purest forms of creation.” (Goh, 2020).
The song quickly gained traction on Spotify and soon signed with the record label Dirty Hit. She was then featured on the song “death bed (coffee for your head)” by Powfu, which we’re pretty sure you saw go viral on TikTok.
In October 2020, Beabadoobee released her highly anticipated debut album, Fake It Flowers, which evidences her songwriting skills and inspiration from grunge and ’90s alternative rock. In Beatopia (2022) she explores the ’00s pop radio, a mix of contemporary and guitar-based bubblegum pop. You might find her latest single, “Glue Song (feat. Cairo)” to be closer to her first releases in sound but more mature songwriting:
You’ve been hiding in plain sight, and it appeared, oh I know
Loving you once only feels wrong, I need you
I always knew I’d find you, to be here is worth the wait to
I’m not lying when I say, “I’ve been stuck by the glue onto you”
It’s safe to say that the 90s and 00s music scene has clearly had an influence on this artist, but she has built her own unique style to the point where, in a few years, we’re certain that you’ll read a blog about original indie artists inspired by her.
Declan McKenna: The Teenage Activist
Declan McKenna is an English singer-songwriter and musician usually linked to the indie rock and pop sound. He’s always been outspoken about his admiration for David Bowie and any 70s pop and rock sound, including The Beatles and T-Rex.
The following year (by the way, still 17) he released his debut single, “Brazil“. If you were around in 2014 and followed FIFA, you might remember a bit of controversy surrounding this sports event. The media claimed that preparations for the World Cup cost over $11 billion, while the poverty rate was above 24%, and t continued to grow. Lyrics such as these were expected:
I heard you sold the Amazon
To show the country that you’re from
Is where the world should want to be
For a fine something all people need
This social advocacy and depth in lyrics have become a signature mark. In 2017, McKenna released his debut studio album, “What Do You Think About the Car?” we can continue to hear these themes but to the rhythm of a more pop-rock sound.
His album Zeros (2020) touches upon the topics of technology, dystopia, and disillusionment and he manages to include technical production elements to the 70s sound. “Sympathy”, his latest release, is a taste of his third album. And we can’t wait.
COIN: The Experimental Classmates
COIN is an indie pop band formed in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2012. They started as Chase Lawrence (Lead Vocals, Synthesizers), Ryan Winnen (Drums), Joe Memmel (Guitar, Backing Vocals), and Zachary Dyke (Bass Guitar) who left the group in 2018.
As for the source of inspiration, the band Phoenix may come to mind when hearing more of an indie pop/rock sound and their use of synthesizers. For example, their debut single, “Run” – which then appeared in the debut album COIN (2015) – transmits that energetic and positive vibe that made the whole world turn heads.
On the other hand, songs that fall more into the indie rock category, and are more characteristic of their songwriting style might remind you of The Strokes. Although they had garnered enough attention by this point, it was “Talk Too Much”, from their second album How Will You Know If You Never Try (2017) that made it a worldwide hit.
You know I talk too much
Honey, come put your lips on mine and shut me up
We could blame it all on human nature
Stay cool, it’s just a kiss
Nothing indie is that easily categorized, so if you find them closer to synth-pop, alternative rock, or a band more characteristic of the 80s and 90s pop scene, we would totally agree.
Their last contribution to the indie scene is Uncanny Valley (2022) which brings us back to that element of nostalgia and deep lyrics that explore how artificial intelligence and futurism have affected our way of socializing.
Original Indie Artists: Final Thoughts
There’s no doubt that being original or unique is a highly desirable – and demanded – trait in any artistic scene. This is precisely what sets musicians apart from others and allows them to make a lasting impression on listeners. However, in order to become an original indie artist or band you don’t need to fully disconnect from current trends or a more traditional approach to music.
As you’ve seen, these three original indie artists have managed to find inspiration without falling into impersonation. They’ve created something new and unique by mixing their individuality, creativity, and determination to explore the music scene until they found a way to express themselves authentically. Now, it’s your turn.