Even Spotify’s official Indie Sleaze playlist is skeptical of its existence; is Indie Sleaze really back?

Indie Sleaze Revival is a term I haven’t been able to escape at all this year. It runs through my social media pages like rivers in a valley, and I seem to find it under every stone I overturn. But what is it? Is it anything at all? Are the musicians being put under this label even agreeing with it? Is anyone in the scene agreeing with it?

Well, it’s a little difficult to pinpoint, and opinions seem split on if “Indie Sleaze” was ever really a thing, let alone its revival.

Indie Sleaze


The Indie Sleaze aesthetic covers a variety of sub-cultures and points of creativity, from fashion to music to internet culture; it was primarily inspired by late 2000s and early 2010s Western youth culture. It was wild, spontaneous, in your face, outrageous. It is all of the above and more. But why is it coming back? Why now?

Before we can ask these questions, we have to understand what Indie Sleaze WAS so we can understand what Indie Sleaze Revival IS.

Often described as a period from the mid-2000s to the early 2010s, Indie Sleaze was an umbrella term for a youth social movement that came to be in major Western cities such as Los Angeles, London, Berlin, New York City, etc. It was a blend of blog culture spreading out (MySpace, Facebook, Tumblr), hipster culture wrapping its fingers around Brooklyn, the sporadic and scandalous party stories portrayed in the show ‘Skims’, leather jackets, American Apparel skinny jeans, flash photography, excessive partying, and much more serious topics such as the post-September 11th reaction, the 2007 recession, and the dot com bubble bursting.

Damon Rush

It was a time for independent acts to rise through the internet in a wave now deemed ‘blog house’; when big-name clothing was dead and minimalist, anti-fashion looks were in, explosive electronic music and raging indie rock acts (Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, MGMT, Justice) were in too, contrasting the minimalism of the rest of the fad.

Even with all these identifiers, this wave of in-style Western youth culture never was defined by a name. Not at least until late 2021, when we see the term ‘Indie Sleaze’ begin to be used on notorious social media sights such as TikTok and Instagram. Many news outlets such as Vice and Vogue credit Tik Toker Mandy Lee (aka @oldloserinbrooklyn) and Instagram pages such as @IndieSleaze for the term becoming used to define this period. Google Trends shows an evident surge in people searching for ‘Indie Sleaze’ the following year after these two creators popularized it amongst Gen Z and millennials, trying to feel as cool as they did ten years ago when they were a part of the scene.

Frost Children

It made people question if this was even a scene at all, let alone if there was the revival that Mandy Lee described in her video posted on TikTok in late 2021. It led to a discourse that remains unsolved.

This discourse has valid points on both sides as to whether or not Indie Sleaze was real and whether or not it was making a comeback. While, as of now, the internet has seemingly agreed that Indie Sleaze was real, in some form, past members of the scene or new names interested in it still seem to disagree on whether or not there is a “Revival”.

But the argument for Gen Z’s ‘Indie Sleaze Revival’ has some valid arguments to back it up.

In the last several months, newcomers in the electronic music scene have been popping out into the world and garnering attention from well-established names in music, such as The Dare and the Hellp being supporting acts for Yves Tumor, The Snow Strippers sampling the classic Justice track ‘Stress’ on the latest Lil Uzi Vert record, The Frost Children garnering a review from none other than the internet’s busiest music nerd Anthony Fantano, and more. Artists categorized under this label are making waves and developing dedicated fanbases, shining a light on the aesthetics of the scene to many new and old. They are clashing rock with electronica (Electroclash!), upholding mysterious yet simultaneously flashy personas, are seemingly all stylish, and somehow all know how to DJ.

The Hellp

These acts aren’t just garnering the attention of their contemporaries, though, with many of these acts selling out shows in major hubs such as Los Angeles, London, and New York and holding events in legendary spaces such as The Good Room and the Bowery Ballroom. The public is interested in what’s going on in the world of Indie Sleaze, and plenty of creatives are willing to offer what they can.

While these acts don’t agree with this label, with The Hellp saying they would rather be called “American Music”, in a now-deleted Tik-Tok by user @Sadd3stnightout, he made a point of saying acts labeled as grunge (Nirvana was his example) or any other scene have always said this, and that it doesn’t come until after the scene’s time has passed where these labels are accepted.

Indie Sleaze Revival is also grabbing attention due to Gen Z’s obsession with Nostalgia culture and rediscovering the past for the first time. Gen Z adores original Indie Sleaze acts like the Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, A-Trak, MGMT, Sky Ferraria, and more. There’s an evident obsession with thrifting; the DIY look the scene was defined by, and mismatched outfits. It’s why flash photography is becoming popular, why CDs, skinny jeans, and leather jackets are stylish again, and why EDM, Rock, and Indie are all seeing a rise in popularity once more.

And with Gen-Z getting older, the want to party post-lockdown only grows. Indie Sleaze has always been a haven for that mentality, remaining fun, loose, hedonistic, and simultaneously hidden. It’s everything any young person would want.

Indie Sleaze Revival is hard to pinpoint, with its elusive nature and constant discourse blocking the true answer of whether it is or isn’t cool. Many say it’s no more than a fad and that it won’t be here to stay. But it’s hard to ignore its fun nature, especially in hard times, and many people are beginning to notice that. I, for one, am here for Indie Sleaze Revival, and you should be too!

Want more sleaze? Read our article about the original Indie Sleaze scene.

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