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R.I.P Society Vs. The Jagermeister Indie Music Awards

A receipt for a $6 packet of chips from Melbourne’s Medina hotel. Relevant, because that’s a bloody rip-off.

So a representative of Crawlspace casually asked me to report on my Jagermeister Independent Music Award experience. They were probably half joking but it was such a bizarre night, with an even more bizarre aftermath, that I thought why the hell not. I went down as a representative of Royal Headache: I’m not in the band, I’m not their manager, I just run the record label R.I.P Society. Law, Joe and Shortty couldn’t get off work to attend the award ceremony, leaving the two free flights and room in the Medina on Flinders Street for Shogun and myself. I was hoping to do a really critical and impassioned spiel but after being exposed to the indie elite and a live performance by Loon Lake I have this deflated, hopeless feeling looming inside. Let’s see how this goes, sorry in advance.

Loon Lake: enduring Australian indie rock music

For those that don’t know, AIR is the Australian Independent Record Labels Association. The next bit was copied from their website: “Now in their seventh year, The JAGERMEISTER INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS is an opportunity for Australian labels, artists and the Industry at large to celebrate the successes of some of the country’s most vibrant and eclectic artists. With a diverse pool of representatives voting this year, from online media, music press, broadcasters, independent music industry representatives and artists themselves, the results will truly reflect the opinions of the collective Independent Music scene.”

For the record I think that AIR is a great organization. They are the good guys. It’s not AIR’s fault the prevalent music culture (even on an independent level) in this country is so bland.

Royal Headache was up for the Best Independent Artist, Best Independent Album and Breakthrough Artist of the Year awards. Shogun and I flew into Melbourne early Tuesday morning, took a shuttle bus to the Medina on Flinders Street with fellow nominees and a few dancers. We listened to the first Generation X album, had a nap, got a few beers, listened to Kool Keith, Negative Approach and Antidote before heading over to the event. It’s important I mention these bands so you know we’re cool.

We arrived at the venue at about 6.30pm via public transport; it was pissing down rain outside yet we seemed to be the only people that were wet. Shogun and I were interviewed by a few media outlets, usually resulting in Shogun stating he doesn’t really know much about the award or other nominees but was thankful, gracious and polite, followed by me ranting for 20 minutes about how I think most of the nominees contribution to culture are on par with 50 Shades Of Grey or Vagazzling. Actually that’s probably making them sound raunchier and more exciting than they are, “a bunch of bands that sound like music from tampon ads” as a friend said is more like it.

We were late to getting a seat for the actual ceremony as I was trying to grab as much booze as possible. I knew I was going to need it to get through this celebration of the country’s most vibrant and eclectic artists. From previous experiences I also knew that Jaaaagermiester is an excellent mental lubricant that would allow the punk portion of my brain to move to the front of my skull, blocking all signals from the sensible adult behavior department. The main man behind the Elefant Traks label gave an excellent opening address, his idea of what the essential qualities of independent music culture seemed very in line with my own: basically creating your own culture from the ground up. Unfortunately this theme did not run strong throughout the night, bringing me to a fairly controversial segment of the night.

Lanie Lane’s label: not independent / heavy enough

Lanie Lane was accepting an award for best Blues And Roots Album and as she thanked her label Ivy League I saw a great window of opportunity to yell “not independent”. This was greeted with a bunch of grumbling and maybe even a tiny bit of shock ‘n’ awe. I didn’t enter the award ceremony with a vendetta against Ivy League; this was a jovial, spur of the moment reaction. Whether Ivy League are independent or not is not really something I dwell on as Ivy League (and a great deal of the labels present at the AIR Awards) are so removed from any affecting independent music culture past or present that it seems irrelevant to discuss. But I guess as this comment apparently re-sparked some debate on “what is independent”, I should probably expand on my drunken heckle.

Contrasting definitions of independent aside, Ivy League does not operate in any way, shape or form like an independent record label. There is no creative idealism or attempt to foster any type of collective /counter culture, nor has there ever been from what I can see. Ivy League basically picks an act and has the resources to ensure they will be somewhat prevalent in the Australian music landscape. I’ve seen Ivy League acts play to modest sized audiences yet still the label manages to construct this very confident, successful presence around the group. They have the tools and resources to sculpt an artist to convince mass-culture (or semi-mass culture?). Kudos to Ivy League for being great at what you do but in my mind (a mind I think is fit to make comment having put every other aspect of my adult life secondary to independent music culture) you don’t have any cultural agenda or agenda beyond the success of each individual artist. I’m not saying you’re invalid, you’re just not an independent record label.

Okay, so after Elaine finished her speech 360 won and said he didn’t deserve it. Seemed like a pretty solid dude, no joke. Some other people won and said stuff. Paul Kelly played and it was rad. I don’t think I really need to report on the rest, this thing is getting too long, also I can’t remember a lot of it. Thinking about Loon Lake’s performance makes me feel depressed. Probably shows how out of touch I am with your average Australian but I can’t imagine an adult listening to this music. At least an adult that has experienced any aspect of real life, from falling in love to having diarrhoea.

Other than Royal Headache winning the album of the year award the main outcome of this night for me was the conclusion that a great deal of the music that was up for nomination is actually detrimental to humanity. I’m speaking mostly about the stuff that might get classified as “indie”. It promotes this unimpassioned, grey, overly stylized approach to creating music that is so devoid of any unbridled emotion, personality, interesting insight into the human condition or, ummmmm, actual art. It’s not a Fred Durst, steampunk or Christian metal type of awful, it’s a more subtle awful. Accessory music awful. Projecting onto society that this is the stifled way you’re actually supposed to create and communicate. I can’t relate to any of this shit, and I’ve got a feeling most people in the room knew what was being celebrated was just more industry fodder to be embarrassed about in a few years time.

***
R.I.P Society is an awesome Sydney label. Royal Headache is an awesome Sydney band. The Jagermeister Independent Music Awards is from Melbourne. It took place on October 16, 2012.

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58 thoughts on “R.I.P Society Vs. The Jagermeister Indie Music Awards

  1. Whoppa says:

    “There is no creative idealism or attempt to foster any type of collective /counter culture, nor has there ever been from what I can see”

    Ivy League was definitely an independant label in the late 90s, when they pretty much signed their peers and friends (Youth Group, 78 Saab) in the midst of a city completely bereft of live music venues where everyone played moody post-rock. They had a definite 60s aesthetic and absolutely no money. What they are now is probably a completely different story, but I just wanted to point that out.

    • nobody says:

      this isnt even probably worth sayin but weak 60s throw back isn’t really an attempt at counter culture. And youth group are just another indie band that slotted in great in the late 90s they changed nothing.

      • Whoppa says:

        Live music/interest in Australian music in late 90s Sydney wasn’t exactly mainstream culture. Most bands slot in to their time due to the mini culture surrounding them, and most bands don’t change anything. Fair call about the 60s throwback though!

        • nobody says:

          id argue live music/interest in australian music still isnt mainstream culture. you’re right most bands dont change anything. but that is the dream.

  2. Joona says:

    Holy hell. Well Nic makes a solid point. But he’s just at the lower end of a stodgy award ceremony that now needs an enema. Maybe we need an “Independent Independent Awards” ceremony, where artists a little further below the radar are recognized. Also jeezus Nic you really can take heed of “no offense AIR but you suck”.

  3. ChuckD says:

    I hearya in regards to Loon Lake. I don’t have a problem with them in any way… It’s probably where the issue lies. They have passable pop songs, grey grey grey grey.

    Does an indie label HAVE to attempt to create a “collective /counter culture”? Is that their responsibility? Hmm.

  4. Well said, Nic. I wish you’d written this for someone with broader readership (no offence), but they’re all tied up in it anyway, right?

    As an aside, I think it’s very brave of you to admit that you live in Ewmore.

  5. kris keogh says:

    So Nic, you got a free plane ticket plus a free hotel room to attend a Jagermeister sponsored award ceremony, yet you still want to lecture people about keeping it real??? You sound more like a mooching sell-out than someone with a ‘cultural agenda’.

    • Parny says:

      Well said! You’re happy to live it up on someone else’s dollar but yet whine that people aren’t indie enough for you. Let me guess, you were indie before indie was cool, right?

      Sour fuckin grapes much Nic?

    • henry says:

      he fronted money for a band with his own money, any profit went to the artist and then what was left went towards the next release and not into his pocket. do you actually think that accepting a flight and a hotel room payed for by a multinational corporation to represent an artist that you believe in and have worked hard for disqualifies that?!

  6. Indie Nerd says:

    Ummm… isn’t Michael Gudinski pretty much the definition of independent as he owns his own business, uses his own money to run it, and has been a crazy maverick for 40 years? Or does independent have to also mean unsuccessful?

  7. Parny says:

    Royal headache suck. No wonder you’re so bitter & contradictory in your actions Nic, if that’s the standard of bands you can sign.

    Maybe get some better artists & you won’t need to rely on free flights, accommodation & booze from (non-independent) companies.

  8. Heather says:

    Never heard of this terrible label before & after listening to their some of their shithouse roster I’m wondering how to un-rape my ears

  9. Daniel says:

    Sorry did I miss who this Nic guy was or why he feels qualified to judge what’s indie & what’s not? I was there that night and it was totally rude of him to do what he did to Lanie (not Elaine as he calls her in his rant). If he was so indie why didn’t he refuse the flight and accommodation and fly himself and his artists to these awards on his own dollar like many of the other nominees from interstate in attendance did?

    • doingthisquicklybecauseiwanttogetbacktowatching2brokegirlsandmasterbating says:

      @Daniel

      Who did that exactly?

      Who said
      “No thanks Jagermeister il pay for my own flight, i know you guys are struggling. Thanks for supporting us indie artists”?.

      Also
      Ref to early in the article where Nic mentioned that guys from Royal Headache couldn’t get off work. They’re still working day jobs. That’s pretty indie. Is Elaine still working at RM Williams?

  10. If you’re so short-sighted as to think that accepting a flight and hotel room so you can represent an artist you’re clearly proud of stops you from being independent, get off the computer for a minute and think about how stupid you sound.

  11. Chris says:

    Nic puts his money where his mouth putting out bands which is more than most of you would do. Thousands of dollars actually. He promotes them, gets them distributed and puts on shows. It’s a job he believes in. He’s quite entitled to put his own views across.

  12. bun says:

    I don’t give a shit about dull australian record industry dick fights about who is more indie than who. It is only slightly more boring that listening to people argue about climate change.

    However, the point about the dull, grey drone of “indie music” is exactly right. I got yelled at the other day because I said Tame Impala is like mainlining stillnox. Apparently they aren’t but I reckon you have to have a minimum level of blandness to be allowed to play at major australian sporting events.

  13. kiki says:

    Awesome article Nic. Hilarious. And all the comments have been very entertaining.
    To me indie is busting your balls, working a day job, creating in your spare time and making EVERYTHING yourself. It is also going to shows that cost $5 and you get to see 10 bands play in a warehouse where drinks are cheap or you bring your own. It is also meeting people at these places, and in little record shops and realizing there’s others that think like you. And then you buy their tape/record/t-shirt and you take it home, and appreciate the fact that there’s probably only 10 of these because that’s all they could afford to do or could be bothered hand-making.

  14. Hipster Gossip Used Kleenex Receptacle Sr. says:

    Everyone in Ewmore knows this was a publicity stunt. For Crawl Space. Shaun put off his next four gold teeth in order to bribe the folks at AIR to award Royal Headache. Nic is the unwitting pawn in this magazine’s attempt to bludgeon the Australian listening public into having taste. A sniper rifle trained on him at the ceremony ensured he would comply in Shaun’s devious scheme for enhanced readership. I believe Shaun has returned Nic’s pet guinea pig, GG Allin, safe and sound upon completion of the task.

    For shame Crawl Space. For shame.

  15. Cracker Jack says:

    hey did y’all know that Jager are still 100% owned by the family? Are they indie? or can’t indie booze be involved with indie music? What about Gudinski? Who owns him? Awww yeah – he does.

  16. grandmastercash says:

    Why has nobody drawn attention to this part:

    a) We arrived at the venue at about 6.30pm via public transport; it was pissing down rain outside yet we seemed to be the only people that were wet.

    UM… so, when it’s raining, catching public transport makes you heaps more indie/real than those who choose to get a cab? Is that the lesson here?

    b) Shogun and I were interviewed by a few media outlets, usually resulting in Shogun stating he doesn’t really know much about the award or other nominees but was thankful, gracious and polite, followed by me ranting for 20 minutes about how I think most of the nominees contribution to culture are on par with 50 Shades Of Grey or Vagazzling.

    Why are you doing interviews? You run the label! You’re not in the fucking band!

    This whole thing stinks like some kid desperately trying to get their 15 minutes. The only reason anyone gives a shit about this article is because they love Royal Headache. A shame that an official award ceremony finally recognised RH for their awesome album, but this guy feels the need to use that as his big moment, discredit the ceremony and shit all over this achievement. Totally gross.

  17. muscles once totally wrote a song about me. says:

    i’m always shocked by all these tepid awards shows at the people who are nominated, most of whom i’ve never heard of. or those awful local attempts at a mercury-music-prize-styled album-of-the-year ceremony, which are awarded apparently on artistic merit yet end up going to the most bland of pre-digested, landfill-indie-ish bands, most of whom i’ve never heard of.

    and this isn’t ignorance speaking: if i look the mirror and admit my honest shame to the world, i am a music industry professional(!), for whom musical knowledge is legit occupational currency. but all these minor mock-indie bands –the youth groups of the current time– are just so transient, forgettable. if you merely unplug yourself from the horrendous australian-semi-corporate-music/jjj-playlisted realm, you can be gloriously oblivious to whatever new beige band gudinski is bankrolling into having a ‘presence’, whomever is being playlisted on the national yoof broadcaster, etc. i recommend it to you all.

    in short: to me, the above rant is just a very angry version of how i would feel if i was forced to spend a whole night pretending a whole bunch of really mediocre bands were somehow the pinnacle of australian indie culture. i’m not even sure i put royal headache above and beyond this –i already own guided by voices albums, y’know?– but at least they ended up here by the fervor of their following, not just because they were someone’s priority act for the opening quarter.

  18. bbt says:

    I am more pissed off at Lanie winning an award named Blues and Roots. There is no Blues in that sector. Never was – never will be!

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