With live music, amplifiers can be heard humming over the rowdiness of a crowd while musicians embrace the vulnerability of their performance. In scope of the DIY scene, personal creations electrify intimacy and build a community founded in “Doing It Yourself.” Shows are hosted in people’s basements, local art galleries, and low capacity venues. The audience is only inches away from the performers. Seeing a local show with 10-100 people crowded around, getting to know each other between sets offers a different kind of satisfaction that getting to see Beyoncé strut her stuff on stage in front of thousands of seated people. There is a consensus from avid DIY attendees that the majority of these musicians are approachable and kind, genuinely greeting the people who come out to their shows. This community bonds effortlessly over similar interests. Handmade patches, zines, buttons, and apparel quickly connect people. It is easy to spot someone who is from the DIY scene, as they similarly dress in quirky cute clothing. It is a close-knit yet welcoming and inclusive community. Everyone shares experiences that are outside of the norm and are cultured with underground material that many might not be familiar with. This creates bountiful Bandcamp links to obscure music that shares raw emotion. Many contributors begin as solo artists with a knack for music and evolve in supportive spaces that cultivate creativity. Persistence becomes a celebration of unique, underground art in the thriving DIY company.
The heart of the DIY scene thumps to IAN SWEET, a trio of musicians from Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles, but where they’ve ended up is in between Boston and New York, speeding back and forth in their van. IAN SWEET isn’t so concerned with their wheels as they are with enjoying every experience the DIY community has to offer. As Jilian Medford, vocalist and guitarist, says, “For us, touring is about hanging out with our buds. It’s so fun to play every night and meet new people, but we just want to tour with people who want to have fun; like if we see a cliff we want to jump off it.” These memorable experiences also take place in Medford’s residency in Brooklyn with members of Girlpool, Ovlov, and LVL UP, a dynamic combination of artists.
While writing IAN SWEET’s latest album, Shapeshifter, Medford was maladjusted to her surroundings. Melancholic tendencies come forth in the lyrics as Medford latches her words onto inanimate objects and creates a physical sense of nostalgic loneliness. As primary lyricist, Medford’s words can feel too heavy to hold, but the band produces a company of readiness for listeners. Words twinged with sadness still encourage listeners to be happy if they want to be. This is a common theme throughout the DIY community that IAN SWEET emphasizes through their music and performance. It is an environment cultivated by eager creativity.