Check out this great interview with Lainey Schooltree, in which she offers a sociological meditation on the definition of prog:
There’s a range of self-identifying prog fans, from purists extolling classic conventions to those with more expansive, flexible conceptions of the genre; lots of debate flows from that rift, but it generally falls within the expected confines. Like other art forms and fields in the 21st century, one of the things on the table for the ruling class during social change is relevance; the time for inclusivity as a choice is coming to a close as important social movements (Black Lives Matter, Time’s Up) promote wider understanding of the dynamics of privilege. People of color and women comprise many renowned hip artists and influencers. There are certainly people from various backgrounds making music that qualifies as prog. Whether they choose to identify that way, though, will depend on whether it’s desirable to do so. You and I have talked about wanting to see a rebranding of sorts for prog. Personally I’d like to see it framed as the set of musical preferences chosen by badass rebels who subvert consumerist norms by embracing (and ideally pioneering) unconventional complexities across genres. A take on the rock-n-roll spirit, prizing innovation and experimentation. And since it’s almost sorta kinda cool to be a nerd these days, there’s some hope for popularity (or at least reducing the stigma).
Another thought is that we’re moving toward a more fluid use of genre (not unlike other social paradigm shifts happening right now), which contextualizes how musicians identify. “Progressive” is increasingly likely to be applied as part of a set of descriptors than an identity. It’s less a thing you are and more a thing you do. I think that’s ultimately a good thing for culturally decompartmentalising it. Barriers are being broken down, man. It’s an exciting time to be making stuff, for all its challenges
If you somehow haven’t managed to get Heterotopia yet, well, what are you waiting for?
A badass rebel, indeed, one who is pioneering unconventional complexities across genres…