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The Cobrasnake New York
Photography The Cobrasnake

5 artists defining New York’s indie sleaze revival

What may have seemed like a blip in the ever-accelerating trend cycle has become a tangible and thriving music community, evocative of the late-00s indie scene

Something interesting is happening in New York’s music scene. A non-stop carousel of shows and parties are fusing together indie rock and nightlife once more, breathing life into a new era of what, in the last couple of years, has become known as “indie sleaze”. Often thought of as the last true IRL subculture, existing before the full force of social media, indie sleaze/bloghouse was characterised as spontaneous, hedonistic and horny, reflected in an equally chaotic and in-your-face soundtrack. The look was distinctly unrefined. Think: ripped American Apparel tights, intentionally mismatched outfits, messed-up eyeliner, and skinny jeans galore, all captured by invasive flash photography. Hyperactive and escapist tracks from artists like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Crystal Castles have now become cult anthems for today’s disaffected urbanites.

While millennials might look back and cringe, these same visual and sonic cues are being replicated in New York, with a nightlife resurgence in full swing post-lockdown. These nights are being chronically documented, harkening back to the legacy of the early Myspace days, and the earliest moments of social networking. Early 00s party photographer Mark Hunter (aka Cobra Snake) is more present than ever, as is the infamous Instagram account @indiesleaze, who has been digging through the archives of party photography, as well as chronicling the revival by interviewing new artists on their Patreon. We’re also seeing a return to the newsletter format, with popular mailouts such as Perfectly Imperfect and You Missed It sending out scenester-curated recommendations and keeping tabs on what's happening, when and where. 

What could easily be misinterpreted as a nostalgia ridden circle jerk is actually something far more interesting. The current music scene offers a real semblance of community, tying together a mesh of on and offline personalities and providing an opportunity to connect with people over new music. A socially driven music scene is no doubt refreshing in a post-pandemic landscape, and particularly to a generation that has been long devoid of IRL connection. These are some of the most exciting artists that come from across the country but are contributing to this pivotal moment in time in NYC.


Brooklyn-based musician Harrison Patrick Smith aka The Dare is all in on the indie sleaze revival, narrowing in on an energetic, electroclash sound. His single “Girls is the perfect two-minute in-your-face dance track that captures the mood of last summer perfectly. The provocative and playful lyrics, “I like the girls who do drugs/Girls with cigarettes, in the back of the club/ Girls that hate cops and buy guns,” are as contagious as it gets, and became instantly iconic after its release. Harrison’s staple shirt and tie look was even captured by Hedi Slimane before he DJ’ed the Celine fashion show in LA last December. He’s undoubtedly become a staple figure in live performance, playing at some of the best parties of the last year with an intoxicating stage presence. His weekly sets draw in mixed-bag crowds of scene girls, skaters, frat bros, club kids and almost-in-the-know 20-somethings whose friends texted them the Instagram flyer.


Blake Ortiz-Goldberg, also known as the ‘Downtown Dimes Square Diamond’ rapper Blaketheman1000’s charm comes from the fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Fuelled by humour and the desire to have a good time, the catchy instrumentals and energetic performances work in tandem to create pop brilliance. Blake describes himself as having grown up on the internet and drawing from a wide range of visual and sonic influences, almost as emblematic of his online presence as his tongue-in-cheek lyrical irony, “I’m an npc/ Making mp3s/ Next week I’m fixin’ to play Babys” he raps in his latest single “Traffic”. Blake is very physically present, hosting and playing a slew of live shows and parties, so much so that he tells me he’s “getting really exhausted from going out all the time”. The constant revelry is necessary, however, as he attributes the success of the indie revival scene to an audience that is less self-serving and more social. Blaketheman1000 will be releasing a new single in March and playing some West Coast shows alongside Frost Children, who he co-manages.


Snow Strippers are an electro-pop duo made up of Tatiana Schwaninger and Graham Perez. After meeting in Florida in 2018, they formed the group towards the end of 2021, with Perez having years of experience producing, and Tati never having made music before. They handle all of their creative direction, visuals and merch independently, alongside running their label Nice Bass Bro. They say they make the kind of music that they want to hear, a confrontational and clashy sound paired with seductive vocals. There are thematic nods towards hyperpop and techno dispersed throughout that are entirely thrilling and bound to keep you up all night.


Outsider artist Cooper B. Handy has been writing, producing and performing as Lucy for almost a decade, cementing a cult following throughout Massachusetts and New York. His experimental and bizarro-pop style includes refreshingly earnest lyrics set against playful and youthful synths. His brand new track “Strange as Can Be is packed full of idioms and surreal contemplations, “I wanna succeed/ I don’t wanna fail/ I feel like a dog again when I chase my own tail,” exemplifying the ephemeral nature of success and the exhausting grind that it entails. Handy is certainly no stranger to that journey, having his role as a supporting act for King Krule abruptly pulled in 2020 due to Covid-19 lockdowns. A nod to his frustration, the year after he released his debut label-backed studio album titled The Music Industry is Poisonous. As of 2023, it was just announced he will be joining Show Me the Body on their European tour this spring, showing he is seemingly right where he wants to be.


Electro-pop duo The Hellp describe themselves as “simple, small-town guys making American music”.  Group members Noah Dillon and Chander Ransom Lucy’s tense and chaotic sound is exceptionally fun, and they bring equal momentum to their live performances. After releasing a long string of singles and EP’s, they put together a compilation album titled Vol. 1 under Terrible Records. The experimental tracks are bursting with energy, featuring hypnotic loops and samples. Their sound is unique in the way that it is somehow nostalgic and novel at the same time. They tell me their inspiration for their sound and aesthetic are “days spent working construction, teen suicide, and blink 182’s backyard bar-b-qs”. The Hellp announced that they signed with Atlantic records last month, and have a new EP coming later this year.