|Stylistic origins||Folk music, punk rock, avant-garde, folk punk|
|Cultural origins||Mid 1980s United States.|
|Typical instruments||Guitar, bass guitar, drums, piano|
Anti-folk (sometimes antifolk or unfolk) is a music genre that subverts the earnestness of politically charged 1960s folk music. The defining characteristics of this anti-folk are difficult to identify, as they vary from one artist to the next. Nonetheless, the music tends to sound raw or experimental; it also generally mocks seriousness and pretention in the established mainstream music scene.
In the United States
Anti-folk was introduced by artists who were unable to gain gigs at established folk venues in Greenwich Village, including Folk City and The Speakeasy. Soon after, singer-songwriter Lach started The Fort, an after-hours club, on the Lower East Side. The Fort's opening coincided with the New York Folk Festival, so Lach dubbed his own event the New York Antifolk Festival. Other early proponents of the movement included Cindy Lee Berryhill, Brenda Kahn, Paleface, Beck, Hamell on Trial, Michelle Shocked, Zane Campbell, Steve Espinola and John S. Hall. Roger Manning, Kirk Kelly, Sander Hicks, and Block were also early anti-folk artists.
The original Fort was shut down in 1985, and the club moved from location to location, including East Village bars Sophie's and Chameleon, before winding up in the back room of the SideWalk Cafe from 1993. The New York Antifolk Festival continues to be held annually at the SideWalk Cafe (long outlasting the original Folk Festival). Events have also taken place in the band shells in Tompkins Square Park and Central Park. While living in San Francisco for a few years in the early 1990s, Lach helped establish a West Coast anti-folk movement at the Sacred Grounds Coffee House.
In April of 2014 The Kansas City Missouri Anti-Folk scene was simmering below the radar of the dynamic and eclectic music scene in which Kansas City has been the proud home to for over a century and counting.
Benign as it was, the new KCMO Anti-Folk scene was in existence and would continue to rapidly develop, gaining momentum, as well as the approval and respect from their previously skeptical peers in the KC music scene. The official acknowledgment of the scene came to be due to a variety of events, beginning with the first annual KCMO Anti-Folk Fest at Fitz's Blarney Stone. Firstly, there was an undeniable presence of musicians whom performed a style of music not fully accepted by the already established kcmo musicians. Collectively, all of the out of place performers shared a similar sound: Too lighthearted to be referred to as Punk Rock and too wild to be be associated with traditional Folk music. There was a common idea amongst the ranks of the budding KCMO scene that a description of the type of music we all played was needed. "Anti-Folk", which was first used by Matthew "Mati Mat" Alvarado, fittingly conveyed what we as a whole felt to be an accurate description of our musical styles. Simultaneously, there was a new band in town creating a buzz. This new two-piece band hailed from NYC under the name: Schwervon. As time passed, the initial buzz grew to a rumble, and KC music enthusiasts newly-found innocent crush on the friendly duo from the Big Apple was suddenly a full blown infatuation, and for some, Love at first sight. The frenzy and interest in Schwervon! was much deserved. They had an extensive online presence, ranging from an active, current, informative Blog (schwervon.com), a well endowd selection of original tunes available on vinyl or CD, as well as hours of Videos. To top it all off, there motto read: Fuck it, be nice. These were and should be, words to live be
In the United Kingdom
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2011)|
In the 2000s, the label has been adopted in Britain, particularly in the London underground scene, with acts including David Cronenberg's Wife and The Bobby McGee's. The UK anti-folk scene (largely centred in London and Brighton) has established its own identity, which has been written about in a six-page feature in the September 2007 issue of Plan B magazine. Plan B held an anti-folk night at the Huw Stevens-curated Sŵn in Cardiff in November 2007. The beginnings of the UK anti-folk scene were in London, with shows promoted by Sergeant Buzfuz that, although not billed as anti-folk, featured many U.S. and UK anti-folk singer/songwriters. In 2004, the lo-fi musician Filthy Pedro started seasonal anti-folk festivals, which he promoted with Tom Mayne of the band David Cronenberg's Wife.
The Brighton anti-folk scene was quick to follow, curated primarily by Mertle. Other key figures within the UK anti-folk community include Dan Treacy of Television Personalities, Jack Hayter, Milk Kan, Extradition Order, Benjamin Shaw, Grelch, Royal Mugs, Larry Pickleman and Paul Hawkins. Emmy the Great is loosely connected with the English anti-folk scene, having played at Sgt Buzfuz's nights in 2003 as part of the duo Contraband. Kate Nash started her music career playing anti-folk-style shows, including a concert promoted by Larry Pickleman and Mertle in Brighton. Laura Marling is sometimes linked with anti-folk, although this is less to do with the UK movement and more to do with her perceived musical style.
Anti-folk-influenced acts such as The Bobby McGee's have begun to pick up regular national radio airplay and media coverage. In August 2006, Timeout Magazine called anti-folk "One of London's hottest subcultures". The first anti-folk UK compilation album, Up the Anti, was released in 2007, mastered by Mark Kramer. The Welsh anti-folk artist Mr Duke has gained some popularity in Wales.
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- A. Petrusich, It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music (Basingstoke, Macmillan, 2008), pp. 234–7.
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- Howlett, Isaac. "The Anti-Folk Movement". Supersweet Zoo. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Light, Alan (August 11, 2006). "How Does It Feel, Antifolkies, to Have a Home, Not Be Unknown?". The New York Times.
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- Krieger, Ben (2009-02-10). "NYC Anti-Folk Scene". The Deli. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Hochman, Steve (1989-01-10). "Bicoastal Anti-Folk of Kirk Kelly at Gaslight". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "Exclusive First Look Video And Giveaway Contest From Indie Anti-Folk Star Jamie Block". Indie Band Guru. 2013-02-06. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- McKinley Jr., James C. (2011-09-23). "Staying Undefined at the Antifolk Festival, and That's Fine". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- Kihm, M. (1994-09-12). "A scene is made". New York Magazine 27 (36): 70.
- Parkin, Chris (2006-09-12). "Secret scenes: Antifolk". Timeout.com. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- Antifolk.com The most updated Antifolk website, covering the movement across the world
- Antifolk.net The New York Antifolk website, started by Lach to promote the scene
- Morning Star article on Anti-folk
- Time Out London feature on Anti-folk
- Village Voice article on UK Anti-folk
- musicomh.com's Review of Anti-folk night at Sŵn Fest, Cardiff 2007