Welcome to Left Speaker/Right Speaker, where the smartest music heads we know debate the biggest trends in guitar music. If you can even call it that. In our second edition, we’re navigating a tradition at least as old as Mac DeMarco: industry plants! Are they real? Are they fake? Is this the new word for “poser” or “sell out” or “my opinions haven’t changed since the late '90s and nothing I read here will change that but boy, do I have thoughts...”? Why are you foaming at the mouth with a half-formed Phoebe Bridgers takedown you heard from some sweaty guy at some bar? Let’s meet our judges.
Today, on the side of "this is conspiratorial sexist nonsense,” returning champ Ashley Reese! Her opponent is CREEM contributor Zachary Lipez, also known as team "the moon landing was faked.” Who's right? Who's wrong? Whose line is it anyway?
CREEM: Thanks for being here, y’all. Mom always said a good place to start is at the beginning. When did you first hear the term “industry plant” outside of its hip-hop origins?
ASHLEY REESE: I don’t remember exactly what band it was being used to describe, but I do remember that it was a group of women, some indie rock band. If you piece together the implications, it’s [a term used to mean] an artist with lack of authenticity that someone in the music industry—which is pretty nefarious in a lot of ways—plucked out of the ether and decided was going to be the next hot thing. It’s like the Josie and the Pussycats movie.
ZACHARY LIPEZ: I first heard it applied to indie, or faux indie. I don’t remember the first time it was used because similar language has been so common for as long as I can remember, like “fake punks”—
AR: —or sellouts.
ZL: Sellouts, yeah, of course. With indie, you’ve got a genre where the name comes from where it exists in the market and the sound comes later. Authenticity is weirdly baked in, even though the majority of the people are middle class to upper middle class. Do you guys actually hear the “industry plant” accusation a lot? Because if you Google “industry plant,” there's 30 articles about why it's a myth and why it's not fair. You don’t really see articles that are like, “So and so is an industry plant.”
Publications are too chicken shit for that.
ZL: I also don’t pay much attention to what fans say, but I’m always conscious of the Mitski effect where one person with 200 followers is like, “I don't like this,” and then there are 15,000 people being like, “The backlash against Mitski is misogynistic.”