Whether you’re switching from pop to indie or from indie to pop, introducing yourself and your fans to entirely different genre is not always easy. If you started your career as a pop singer and then decide to lean towards indie, or something more ‘quirky’ like rock or electronica, you cannot achieve a sense of authenticity according to the public, yet if you do this vice versa you begin to lose this sense of authenticity.
Take Radiohead for example. Whilst the Oxfordshire based experimental band’s 1997 album Ok Computer wouldn’t exactly be described as mainstream, it appealed to the British 90s audience and was deemed as ‘cool’. Contrarily, their follow up 2000 album Kid A wasn’t received as well due to music culture being predominantly Brit pop and this project being heavily electronic. The only form of electronica that consisted of a large audience at this time was dance, and even that was beginning to fade out.
A band that did quite the opposite of Radiohead was No Doubt. They had hovered around the ska scene for nine years before their infamous pop ballad ‘Don’t Speak’ was released. It may be just me, but after having a quick scan of their debut No Doubt and their pop rock successor Tragic Kingdom, they aren’t ‘too’ different in terms of sound. Tragic Kingdom still incorporates elements of their previous fun yet complicated melodies, just a little more toned down to fit in with the pop setting they had inserted themselves into. In spite of this, many of their original ska fans turned away after they gathered mainstream attention, only for the Californian successes to build a bigger fanbase.
“Sometimes change be good though” argues Folklore and Evermore by Taylor Swift. Maybe heading in a different direction musically is becoming more accepted now, or maybe the general public are so desperate for a modern musician to surprise them, after fifteen years of pop artists being afraid to do just that. The Indie sisters Folklore and Evermore may not be Swift’s best selling in terms of figures, however it’s clear that they acquainted her with new audiences; the middle aged indie lovers, the people too afraid to listen to something described as ‘pop’, fussy music journalists. The Guardian described Folklore as ’emotional acuity’. The Independent said Evermore was ‘full of haunting tales that transform speakers into campfires.’
So to conclude I believe it makes things interesting when artists change their style, whether they decide to attract radio listeners or venture into the complicated world of Indie. Maybe your vocals are so versatile that you can do all kinds of music, like Bruno Mars, who not too long ago formed the Soul R&B group ‘Silk Sonic’ with Andersen Paak. Maybe you don’t like the media attention and begin to enjoy something less commercial, assembling a smaller yet committed fanbase along the way.