Community

‘The community coalesced and artists played together in many combinations and put each other music out on individual, artist-run labels. The improvisational approach and the tendency toward continual recording resulted in hundreds of hours worth of material, while new technology permitted its quick, cheap transfer onto CD-R. This led to a vast output of music, often in very limited runs or with special packaging and sometimes on unusual or defunct formats.’ (Leech, 2010)

Although certain local have flourished, mainly in Northern California (San Francisco) and the North-East (Vermont and Philadelphia), most of the ‘New Weird America’ acts come from disparate geographical location. Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance for example, hails from a very isolated rural part of Colorado.

There was a necessity to create a community, and this was achieved through newly emerging channels of communication, mainly the internet. Using internet forums dedicated to obscure psych-folk, and also through the british magazine Ptolemaic Terrascope, folk musicians around the country found a like-minded community, and bonded over their love of folk music. These forums also proved useful when collectors tried to track down rarer records, with file-sharing becoming an essential aspect of the scene.

Many ‘New Weird America’ acts took to self-releasing their material, preferring to avoid the complications involving record labels and benefit from greater creative control. This was mainly made possible, again, by the emergence of new technologies. New cheap recording tools allowed artists like Joanna Newsom to record themselves in the comfort of their own home. Artists were also able to burn copies of their work on CD-Rs using their home computer, facilitating the distribution. This approach further enhanced the DIY aspect of the movement and favoured a less-commercial attitude.