Indie rock, DIY, localism.

William Brafford

William Brafford grew up in North Carolina, home of the world's best barbecue, indie rock, and regional soft drinks. He just barely sustains a personal blog and "tweets" every now and then under the name @williamrandolph.

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7 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    hmmm…the idealism of any cause is tested by how it does in reality.

    I am a vet of the 80’s college radio/alt scene. great times they were ( i have dream syndicate playing as i type). I think i grew out of the major label= sell out, which is good. you can’t judge solely art/music/etc by how popular it is. if it speaks to you or a generation then it just does. and to be a functioning artist you have to survive.

    another example for you of the DIY ethic is Linux. there are a whole range of wonderful desktop operating systems running on Linux that are in many ways better then winblows. many linux systems are made entirely by volunteers who just want to make a good system. some are in small bushiness trying to make a buck on a free operating system. and for the record, kubuntu beats windows like a rented elf.

    of course winblows and apple still dominate over a free system that works just as well in general because they have massive power through institutional advantages. That does throw a wee wrench in DIY dreams.Report

  2. William Brafford says:


    “if it speaks to you or a generation then it just does.” — I know what you mean. As much fun as it is to tell everything as suits vs. hipsters, if the stars align enough to provide a good start, talented folks can indeed do well for themselves on the majors, stay true to their vision, etc. And there are plenty of producers, recording engineers, session musicians, songwriters, and others involved in the process who take just as much pride in doing good work as the fine folks at Merge. I definitely don’t want to spit on their hard work.

    I tried Linux a few years ago but I wasn’t motivated enough to get into it. But it seems like another good example of sustaining an ideal of integrity despite little apparent hope of winning in the long run. Maybe next time around?

    The biggest complication is that it seems to me that the success of DIY movements seems to be a function of the availability of cheap technology, whether it’s recording equipment or processors—but the technology gets cheap only because the big institutions the DIYers want to subvert pushed so hard for it. I don’t think this is a big problem, but it throws another wee wrench into the mythology of DIY independence.


  3. E.D. Kain says:

    I’d do Linux if I could get the damn wireless to work. That’s the hang up for me. Love Ubuntu/Kubuntu etc. except for that one thing…Report

  4. Joseph FM says:


    I have a friend who works for Dell, and he recommended that I try Fedora (which is based on Red Hat, rather than Debian). He said it might support my wireless chipset better. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    As for the music: yeah, I’m only 24, but I grew up on that stuff, and I have friends in bands to this day who self-release their music. (Most notably my college classmate’s satirical hip-hop group Zombies! Organize!!.)

    The idea of something like “conservative communes”, traditionalist and mostly self-sufficient communities, is interesting though on a whole other level, though there’s always the risk in these things of becoming too isolated. I’d definitely like to hear more ideas in this direction.Report

  5. Thanks for the interesting read. I am not familiar with your site, but found it from a referral to our website. I am guessing that the end comment was not made by the author of the post, correct? I would love to hear more about why N.B. feels that Asthmatic Kitty is less “authentic” or “countercultural” in its DIY spirit than genres of metal, punk and hardcore…especially considering that Woody Guthrie was one of the first punks, with a guitar that could kill fascists and songs that helped illuminate and undermine the politics of injustice and inequality. I also think it is a gross oversight, if simply judging by aesthetic standards to leave out hip-hop, techno, blues, and soul (etc.) from this list.

    If the DIY spirit and be reduced to a particular style or sound our image, then it is no DIY spirit at all, but merely a subcultural protest communicated through fashion. But if the DIY spirit is really keeping separate from the systems of mass market and mass communication, how then is it even possible to evaluate motives or methods without an immediate and local interaction with the particular community being examined?Report

  6. William Brafford says:


    “N.B.” = “nota bene” = “note well.” I did write the line. It seemed right rhetorically but it wasn’t exactly fair of me to single out Asthmatic Kitty without any good reason. Everything I have from you guys, I like. I was hoping to touch off some discussion by being hyperbolic.

    What I was trying to get at, if I can say this without digging my hole deeper, is that some (not all!) metalheads and punks face more social disapproval for liking what they like than most indie rockers do. I’m thinking of “The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton,” which is admittedly fiction but rings true to me. Can’t prove this, can’t back it up except with anecdotes from North Carolina.

    I left out hip-hop, techno, soul, blues, folk, country, and many other genres because I only know enough to know that their stories are different. If I thought I could tell those stories, I would try.


  7. Matt Frost says:

    I tried to tease out the same thread on The American Scene a while back, specifically in reference to interwar German youth movements and the 80’s hardcore scene. It yielded at least one very cool comment about rejectionist youth cultures and their political implications: