Staying Afloat in the Genre Wave
For the music industry, the internet era has lead to an insurmountable increase in artists. Music-making is more accessible and attainable than ever before. And while this creative democracy has done wonders to diversify what listeners are hearing, experiencing, and being exposed to, it alternatively floods the musical marketplace with so much talent that it gets difficult to discover, and even define, where and when quality artistry arises. One reaction is the ever-increasing plethora of genre terminology—indie, rock, you name it. Underneath its intricate umbrella, each genre now holds hundreds of sub-genres that young and eager musicians are aiming to emulate. It's a genre trap.
In December, office chatted with Virginia Beach-born Turnover and Quebec-hailing Men I Trust during their North America tour, which has since wrapped. These two bands stand out starkly especially amidst the genre conversation, because they have little to no interest in genre classification. Each group has been labeled by music media as everything from indie to electronic, to hardcore and pop—and they have shifted significantly in their sound since their respective starts: with Turnover softening the edges of their music, making their way closer towards what would be considered indie rock from their first “pop punk” releases, and with Men I Trust incorporating guitar as well as other elements to their more classic electronic sound for a gentler energy overall.
There is no guiding force telling these musicians to change their sound to stay relevant. This has been organic, a flow founded in their personal journeys and environments. It hasn’t been brash or overwhelming—their core sentiment remains the same, and the shift was born of organic, environmental roots. Read our chat about staying calm on the road, the benefits of being friends with your bandmates, and getting away from genre below.
Austin, are you on the road right at this moment?
Austin Getz — Yes, I'm currently sitting on a curb outside the wagon at someplace in Lincoln, Nebraska. We played Denver last night. It was great. And now we're on the way to Chicago, going to try to see Queen and Slim in a little bit, and maybe going bowling… Keep it chill.
All good. So I saw you guys when you were in LA, and that was awesome. What's been the best show so far?
AG — Honestly, probably last night. It was so much fun.
Had you guys met before you started the tour? And how?
Emma Proulx— The first time I met Turnover, we were in London. We were opening for them, and we just got along with each other so quickly and so well that we eventually became friends. After, we crossed paths with eachother a couple of times. And eventually, we decided to tour together, because it's always nice to have friends around.
AG — Yeah, we played Coachella this year earlier, and we played some shows around that in Las Vegas and LA.
How do you feel like your bands’ music compliment each other?
EP — I think we both really love what the other band is doing.
AG — Yeah, I think it's good, because the last tour that we did was with Turnstile, which are also our homies. I feel like all the bands on the tour are close enough to where if somebody likes one of the bands, they'll probably enjoy the other bands. But they're also unique enough to where it's not like seeing the same show three times, you know what I mean?
EP — Every band that is playing is listening to this type of music, even if we're not playing the exact same thing. It feels really great.
What would you call that type of music? I know the idea of genre and that specific categorizing is annoying and dated, but—
EP — I hate that question.
That’s kind of why I like asking. It's just my sort of devil’s advocate question.
EP — Yeah, I don't know. I guess people like tagging Men I Trust with the Bedroom sticker. But then again, I don't know. Maybe for me, it's all variation of pop music. I don't know. You would have to tell me.
What do you think Austin?
AG — Yeah, I mean it's really hard for me. I feel like people with Turnover nowadays always just say Indie. But I just hate that word so much.
I was just about to ask if you resent that.
AG — What does it even mean? You know what I mean?
EP — It doesn't mean anything anymore.
Well, I don't know if any genres in general apply anymore. The concept these days is very fluid. Everything's always changing.
AG — That's what I'm saying, especially when all of our records sound pretty different from each other. So now I feel like it's just an ongoing thing. But I saw there was somebody when the record first came out who said, “This new record is hella ‘soul pop.’” And I think that was pretty cool, probably just because I've been listening to a lot of soul. But yeah, I don't know. It's hard to say. Sometimes when someone asks, I just say, "Sure, it’s soft rock.”
EP — I don't know if it's a healthy way of seeing your music. it's so hard, because you don't play music to fit into a genre.
It can be limiting to put yourself in a category. In any industry. So is it been stressful being on tour?
EP — No, it's not stressful. I think we're at like at this stage where we just really enjoy being with each other, and we know how to take downtime. And we're there to have fun.
AG — Yeah, Turnover has been a band for 10 years this year. We've been touring full time since 2012 and, for so many years, just in a van. The band has honestly taught me to deal with it in a good way, because it's like, "Alright, cool, there's a problem. Well, we have to solve it, because the show must go on." It's just another thing to add to the to-do list. There's something that's so comforting about being with a group of friends and your support system, because you know when you're in the band, the people that are with you in the band are so close to you, and you're all problem solving together.
What do you guys do for fun while on tour?
EP — What are we doing, Austin?
AG — We're dancing to deep house, on the bandwagon and wearing cowboy hats.
Oh, that's always fun.
EP — Yeah. We have cowboy hats. We have all sorts of hats. Austin, you have a Christmas hat that you put on stage.
AG — [Laughs] This is so funny... What do you do for fun? We have a lot of different hats.
Yeah, I'm definitely going to keep this part as a centerpiece of the article. Touring together, are there good crowds?
EP — Of course.
AG — Yeah, amazing. Honestly, this has probably been my favorite tour that we've ever done. I feel like just from the years I spent just hammering shows out in the van, and no one cared about the band and playing for 50 kids a night, I have this eternal expectation of the show sucking. So I still show up to the show, and I'm like, "Oh yeah, it might not be a good show tonight, whatever." And just every single night on the tour, it's been a pleasure to watch the bands.
EP — I always remember the first day. We have never been signed under a label, so I remember being stressed thinking each show was going to be 30 people or 40 people, yet every night when I see like full rooms, I'm never going to get used to it. And I don't want to get used to it.