Friday, 1 April 2011

Indie talks, Hector rocks

Enter Hector; enter the Vancouver Indie rock scene. Beyond the top 40 of radio, the videos of MTV and MuchMusic, there is an alternative world of music only the initiated are aware of. The in-the-know have turned on, tuned in, and downloaded from an independent movement that by-passes all the usual establishment channels of production and distribution and links consumer directly with product. This puts the music fan and the music creator in contact, for better or for worse, for that instant feedback, do or die, survival of the fittest in the capricious world of fad.

Hector is an electronic duo from Vancouver formed back in 1999. It consists of Darryl R. Shackelly on drums and Andréa Hector who plays bass as her weapon of choice but covers all other instruments and is responsible for programming and the original material. It's a curiosity to see the word "programming" on a musician's C.V. however these days with computers so much a part of everything, it seems like a natural fit with the world of song. And let's not forget, as a composer, Ms. Hector would be very much involved in all aspects of her pieces and certainly computers would very much turn a duo into a much larger sound.

Online music
The band has uploaded its latest EP which consists of 5 songs: Cry, Here We Go Again, I Thought, Serious, and Nasty Feeling.

I note that there are several services on the Internet allowing bands to upload music. The listener has access to individual tracks or can optionally buy the entire EP. Hector has made use of two of these services:



Which is better? MySpace seems more like Facebook in that it's more about social media while Bandcamp seems dedicated to the music, both listening to it and selling it. Good for the band; good for the listener as I see this also includes the lyrics to the songs. That for me is a big plus. Yes, I like the tune but the story which goes along with the tune can make it all that much better.

Cost of online music
Bandcamp is offering the Hector EP of 5 songs for $5 with individual songs priced at $1. Click on the download button and select your desired format: MP3 and other formats I'm not familiar with but which are labeled as being for "audiophiles and nerds". From there, you checkout using your credit card. I have no idea what the cut of the service is on a sale, but Bandcamp seems to offer the band everything for marketing (previewing), selling including secure credit card payments, and downloading music. For the indie artist, this seems like a good way of getting one's music out there and not relying on the normal business channels like the big name record companies. After all, the big companies are not going to be spending time on anything they would consider risky so any indie artist is on their own to try and drum up interest. That, I am certain, is a tough row to hoe.

Marketing and Word of Mouth
Wikipedia's article on Indie rock talks of how the Internet has played a big part in how indie artists have been able to market a product without the help of mainstream channels. Not everybody is going to "make it", but there are stories which show the potential. As a gift, the mother of a 13 year old California teenage girl pays $2,000 to make a "vanity music video" for her daughter. It's posted on YouTube and goes viral and at last count, had been viewed 16 million times. (see my blog Internet song "Friday" goes viral) Amanda Hocking is a 26 year old author who self-published nine of her titles as ebooks through Amazon's Kindle service starting in April 2010. In January 2011, she apparently sold 450,000 copies of her books in one month! It is reported she is going to make two million dollars in 2011 and has just signed a movie deal. (see my blog: Amanda Hocking: indie author goes viral)

Movie Music
Andréa is involved in more than just her duo. She has also supplied the music soundtrack for the independent film "Ms. Thing" released in August 2010.

A mockumercial, Ms Thing tells the story of Jill, an emotionally volatile urban lesbian who is looking for love in all the wrong places until unexpectedly, she finds total fulfillment in an unusual package. And, she is not alone. The craze she discovers is revolutionizing lesbian communities across the nation.

[chuckles] I'm reminded of that line from Monty Python: And now for something completely different. (read a short interview with the writer Mette Bach) I said independent film. Is this an underground film?

Is one band enough? Andréa is also involved in a female duo called Bluelight with Lin Gardiner. They have a music video for their song "I see Fine" and have posted another four of their songs on MySpace. Unlike the rock style of Hector, Bluelight is a softer, more melodic vocal type of music. It's another side of Andréa and shows a bit more of the extent of her talent. This isn't a one trick pony.

Final Word
I have to chuckle at how we all fall victim to mainstream media. We see what's put in front of us and do not necessarily take the time to look elsewhere. The world is a big place and there's a lot going on. If we do take the time, we can discover a lot of interesting stuff we normally would have no idea that existed.

Ms. Andréa Hector is one busy individual. There's quite a bit of creative output from this lady, output that is well worth a listen (her music) and in some cases well worth a look (her blog). Add to that producing the movie Ms. Thing, supplying the music for the film, playing multiple musical instruments and doing computer programming, and we have an individual to keep an eye on. Where is this going and what's going to come out of it? Only time and Ms. Hector will tell.


official web site: Hector
News: January 21, 2011
Here we go! We've got our ep! HECTOR: Evolves Like Love (H.E.L.L.) mixed and mastered by the amazing Lin Gardiner.

Andréa Hector: an interview by Jett Black

Andréa's Healing Journey (blog)
I've had a very interesting life. Just when I think I've lived through enough, life throws more at me. Sometimes, I feel like a science experiment. The objective is to see just how much I can take before my mind is actually blown.

Wikipedia: Indie Rock
Indie rock is a sub-genre of alternative rock that originated in the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1980s.
Indie rock artists are known for placing a premium on maintaining complete control of their music and careers, releasing albums on independent record labels and relying on touring, word-of-mouth, airplay on independent or college radio stations, sometimes modern rock radio and, in recent years, the Internet for promotion.
In the 2000s, the changing music industry and increased use of the internet as a tool for music promotion allowed a number of indie rock bands to achieve mainstream commercial success. Modest Mouse was one of the first popular indie acts of the 1990s to make the jump to a major label, signing with Epic Records in 2000. Their 2004 album Good News for People Who Love Bad News was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Rock Album. After many years with the Barsuk label, Death Cab for Cutie signed to Atlantic Records in 2004. Their 2005 album Plans was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album of that year and charted on the Billboard charts for 47 consecutive weeks and attained Platinum sales. In November 2004, two Bright Eyes singles, "Lua" and "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)", reached the two top spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales. In 2010, Arcade Fire's album The Suburbs reached number 1 on the Billboard charts in the United States and the United Kingdom. The following February the group won one Grammy Award (out of three nominations) for Album of The Year. The Walkmen, LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, The Black Keys, Interpol, Spoon, Grizzly Bear, and The National have also enjoyed mainstream popularity. Reasons suggested for this success include the decline of record sales and increased media exposure of indie artists due to internet marketing.

Wikipedia: Extended Play
An EP (short for extended play) is a musical recording which contains more music than a single, but is too short to qualify as a full album or LP.


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