What is Antifolk?

Antifolk (sometimes incorrectly spelled as anti-folk) is a musical genre that promotes song-writing over technique and personality over polish. Some see it as the evolution of folk, others as a combination on punk and folk. Others believe the musical genre is so loose and difficult to define that in reality it is more of a scene.

Here are some attempts at answering this question:

“Maybe the real definition of Antifolk is simply the willingness to follow your muse wherever it leads; imagine if the diehard folkies who booed Dylan at the Monterey Folk Festival back in the Sixties (simply for playing an electric guitar) could hear this crew! Folk music ain’t what it used to be, and that is a good thing indeed.”

Jim Testa

“I think it’s a cool title. The fact that no one knows what it means, including me, makes it kind of mysterious and more interesting than saying that you’re a singer/songwriter or that you play indie rock.”

Jeff Lewis

“Antifolk is a re-discovery of folk ethics and a reaction against the rigid genre that folk became in the 60s. Its about using whatever you want to tell everyday stories, valuing humour over sorrow, storytelling over technique, and personality over polish.”

Filthy Pedro

“Antifolk was and will always be an opportunity for anyone to get up and make a ridiculously holy racket, whatever that entails. An opportunity to become you on your own terms with all the rewards and consequences.”

– Grey Revell

“It didn’t have to be folk, which was boring and lame. It didn’t have to be rock, which was increasingly a cliché. It could be somewhere in-between, and it could be good. It could be AntiFolk.”

– John Berger

“It’s hard to describe antifolk. As a musical style, some would say it would have to be songs filled with wit and/or honesty, while playing an acoustic guitar in a folk-punk style. But, that definition doesn’t include many of the acts that are considered antifolk. Some artists play electric guitar, for instance.

…but what we all have in common is that we’re doing a our own thing, and each person seems to have their own unique take on folk music (music OF and FOR the people). Being somewhat innovative is at the heart of antifolk. There’s no bullshit in antifolk music… well, some of it is semi-bullshit, but underneath the bullshit, there’s always something that’s there to hit a raw nerve. Antifolk is raw, honest, and unrelenting in its rawness and honesty. This is what real music is and should be about. Musically, it’s a combination of traditional folk and punk rock ethos.”

Randi Russo


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