History: grew out from 60s garage, 70s punk, and 80s post punk it started in the mid 80s as alternative/college radio music. Once nirvana hit big the alternative genre split: the popular side was just alternative(Smashing Pumpkins, Hole, No Doubt, etc.) and the other half that wasn't mainstream(by choice or not) became indie rock(Pavement, Sebadoh, Built To Spill, etc).
Some bands have signed to major labels but are still considered indie(Modest Mouse, etc.). Go figure.
Sound: In the begining indie sounded like alternative(because it was) but it grew more experimental and weird. In Britain indie has more of a typical sound like Radiohead, Muse, etc. rather than a definition based on 'the scene.'
The scene: if you really think all indie kids do is try to be cooler than other people then... well.. you're mostly right. The main point is, don't take the scene and the whole hipster attitude seriously. No one does. And if you do, well, then I'm cooler than you.
the state of being "indie":
1)being unable to talk to anyone about your music.
2)but knowing that, in the process, you're way cooler than the kids you try to talk to about it.
(Examples of Indie music)
80's- Joy Division, Sonic Youth, The Smiths
90's- Pavement, Radiohead, The Pixies, Happy Mondays (Are they considered dance music or indie rock?).
Now- The Shins, Bright Eyes, Death Cab For Cutie/The Postal Service, Rilo Kelly, Modest Mouse.
Confused FYE Employee- "Uhh, no. We do have a wall of My Chemical Romance albums on the wall behind you".
Indie Kid- "Fuck"
2. Any music slightly left of mainstream
3. Not always about lost love, sometimes about Christmas in Zoos and other things often seen while smoking funny stuff
"You don't look it"
"Do I have to?"
Although this definition is accurate, the word has come to mean more. For many, it has come to symbolize originality and forward-thinking, especially in music and design.
By this definition, indie is any business or designer that is not associated with a large company. Indie can also define the consumer who chooses to support small business, independent record labels and handmade items rather than shopping at big-box stores.