Sept 08 – Twelve Simple Steps to Indie Cred

03/10/2009 at 9:40 pm | Posted in General Nerdery, How to this-or-that, Just for Fun, Music, News & Explanations | 2 Comments

[This is a repost of an older blog, from September 2008. Original at]

I’ve been taking a month or so to work on my Indie Cred.  I understand that Indie Cred, or “Independent Credibility,” is very important — I learned that from Jennifer Lopez, who writes so compellingly about still being from the block.  It is important to demonstrate to fans and colleagues that you have suffered an appropriate amount to deserve your carefree, indulgent, jet-setting independent musician lifestyle.  And it is also important not to appear to enjoy your life too much, to always wear a slightly stern and melancholy “genuine” Indie Musician Face.  It is also good to cultivate a “genuine” smell.  The Flight of the Conchords knows all about Indie Cred.  And after a summer like this one, I could write a book on it, I swear.  Here’s my premise for free, so nobody steal it:

You, too, can improve your Indie Cred in just twelve simple steps.  They worked for me!

1.  Sleep and work at strange hours, to maximize the probability that you’ll set your alarm for the wrong time.
2.  Be able to carry your entire recording studio, as well as several instruments, in one load.
3.  Do not record in the same place twice.  Use the bus, back rooms at church, remote sheds, strangers’ houses, and friends’ closets.  Keep your stalkers guessing.
4.  Get accustomed to sleeping in ambient air temperatures.  After a few weeks, forty degrees at night will not seem at all cold.
5.  Housesit. As. Frequently. As. Possible.
6.  When you don’t have the proper tools, improvise.  Use a violin instead of a synthesizer; use a flashlight covered with a trash bag instead of a follow spot; use your phone instead of a computer; use your oven instead of a heater; use your dead cat’s ashes instead of a shaker.
7.  Walk the fine line between seeking approval and being a snob.  Don’t be on time for appointments, lest you look too eager, but also try to be stood up by important people as often as it is convenient, so you can feel remotely responsible.
8.  Know by heart the menus of all the hip restaurants in town at which a body can eat for less than $5 without seeming cheap.
9.  Be seen one day wearing very fancy clothing and makeup and the next looking haggard and worn from lack of sleep and makeup.  Imagine that this will surely get everyone talking about your Big Important Project and your Dedication.  Then remember that they actually don’t care. (Nobody Caring is a sure sign you have Indie Cred.)
10.  Perform work associated with at least ten different occupations daily.
11.  Wear holes in your clothing the old-fashioned way:  with wear.
12.  Showers = optional.

(But always know where your towel is.)

I’m also working on my Alaska Cred, by planning a trip down the Al-Can (that’s the Alaska-Canada Highway) late in the season in a bus towing a jeep carrying a scooter.  I hear there’s already snow in the Interior.  Fingers crossed, everybody!  The more I get used to this life, the less sincerely I can sing “I Wish I Were a Real Alaskan Girl.” Although I cannot yet wrench on my own goose, I am getting used to a very different style of living.  I will never again take running water for granted.  I’m not ready for Helm’s Deep yet, but at least I’m not a wuss.

Despite all my strenuous Cred-Building exercises I am very happy with my work and my situation.  How many people get to record several different typewriters, model for a nationally renowned photographer, rehearse with a guitarist who plays like Dave Matthews, and eat reindeer sausage all in the same day?  Lucky me.

As a matter of fact, I’m so thankful for what I get to do that this month’s song is free. “100 Easy Ways to Lose a Man” is yours for the downloading on my myspace — if you’re a myspace user — or by e-mail, if you’re not.  You can hear it at or on my homepage.  Feel free to spread it around!  This song yearns to fly free. At least for the month of September.  [Note from the present: it’s now available on iTunes and other MP3 vendors.]


This little ditty is from a lesser-known Leonard Bernstein/Al Green/Betty Comden musical, “Wonderful Town.” When I was twelve, I was definitely going to be on Broadway.  If this is as close as I ever get — I’ll take it!  I’ve always loved this song, and I finally found a friend who was willing to learn to play it in Liz Malys, a talented piano songstress with whom I shared a concert last month.  If you want the song for your own, just snag it off the myspace music module or else e-mail me.


Fundraising is like (choose your own metaphor):
buying toilet paper
doing your taxes
going to the dentist
tweezing nose hairs

It’s not very exciting, and sometimes it’s a downright hassle.  But it’s important, and it comes around once a year at least for most of us artist types.  Yes, I am doing a fundraiser throughout September.  Why?  It’s pretty normal for Alaskan bands, actually, because we have to travel so very far to come play for most of you.  And it’s rapidly becoming important to having Indie Cred, which it seems I will soon have in spades…

The real reason I’m raising funds, and working at this 100 hours a week, and risking a great deal for music, is because I believe great art is worth it.  Some things you invest in for a return — other things you invest in simply because you want them to keep existing.  So if you feel so moved, please take a second and make a donation, even $5.  By leaving a tip, you will be participating in something intercultural and international and important, I truly believe that.  Great Art Is Worth It.

[Note: Paypal link now resides at Having trouble posting it here for some reason; open to tech help suggestions in the comments.]

If you would rather make a purchase than a donation,
this is a terrific time to download a single track or to buy a copy of Vanilla from CDBaby or iTunes.  These purchases help me immensely by demonstrating there’s a market for my music.  Plus, the holidays are coming, and you’ll need your traditional Kwanzaa CD’s at the ready.

If you haven’t got a penny, then a ha’penny will do: I’m a starving artist with You-Know-What-Kind-Of-Cred, and I understand how it is.  If you don’t have even a dollar to spare, then snag the free track, spread it around to some friends, and talk about the music.  Or better yet, drop by the place where you purchase or listen to music — online or in real life — and either leave an honest review or request some airplay.

Just remember, the power is in your hands, O listener — I hope you’re feeling a thrill go down your spine and laughing an ominous laugh.  Because you definitely deserve to cut loose a little.  I mean, you rule.  Literally.  So take advantage of that.  And don’t forget to work on the laugh, because that’s about standards.



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  1. I’d love to make a donation, but can’t figure out how. Am I just being thick?

    • Wow! My Paypal button just disappeared from the post. It would have been obvious had the button been visible. ….and for some reason I can’t get it to display here, even with tweaking. So there’s a Paypal tip jar on this page for now: I’ll try to fix it in the post (it’s quite a few months old).

      Thank you!

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