As I grew up, I was surrounded by plenty of different kinds of music. My parents were older so I’d listen to what they’d put on and then I had my older siblings to influence my taste. As I reached the age where I began to discover what kind of music I liked the most, I was drawn to the alternative, indie, and rock scene. But then after a while of searching, saving music, and getting into different bands, I began to notice the lack of representation that this genre of music has of BIPOC. I’m ashamed that it took me how long it did to consider the music I was listening to and who it came from, because music is how people are heard. I think that music can be your own individual learning experience. I know that for me, on my own I can continue to dive into different genres and expand my taste and discover new artists. And it was long overdue that I looked at the representation of people of color in the genre I’m so fond of.
I found an article written by Larisha Paul that I really liked when searching for Black artists in these genres. I’ll attach the link below too. She talked about when FKA twigs began releasing music, no one knew what she looked like or what genre she fit into. When her photo did come out, those who were wondering of what genre she was changed to comments of “now she’s R&B.” Here’s a quote from Larisha that really provided some insight and was worded perfectly. “People allowed her physical appearance to dictate how they heard her music. The danger with doing this to an artist is that it reduces them while backing them into the corner of the box they’ve been placed in. You can’t dismiss an artist’s work based solely on their race and genre you think they should stick to.”
This is one of the reasons it is so hard for BIPOC in the music industry to break into the alternative/indie genre. Listeners like to dictate what sound they are to the color of their skin. How can these artists begin to pave the road and change the industry when people find it so difficult to open the door of that box they so like to place them in?
Larisha Paul’s article here.
A playlist of Black Indie, Alt, and more here.
Collage by Kirsten Hansen.