Spin It Yourself: DIY in LA
In a city where the legacy of the Hollywood sign looms large, Los Angeles is teeming with a "Do It Yourself" subculture that exists happily outside the bubble of those striving for celebrity. Basement showcases, closet-sized record stores in Echo Park, a hole-in-the-wall venue in Venice, EP's created in the comfort of a bedroom—it's a movement that supports these burgeoning musicians in more ways than just spaces for them to play.
DIY in LA Playlist
We had the chance to sit down with all three acts to hear three refreshing perspectives on how this endemic movement affects the music they create.
Los Angeles Police Department
LAPD's Ryan Pollie feels at times like the outsider looking in. Seeing himself in this community he said, "It's tough because I feel relatively new to the LA music community in general. A lot of my participation has been releasing music online and supporting other bands by going to shows and buying records. There is a great DIY community in Los Angeles, with a lot of cool venues like Pehrspace and The Smell that support that kind of vibe." But, it's that kind of friendly participation for Rachel Levy (R.L Kelly), that really bottles what this movement is for her, "I define DIY truly as it is: Do/doing it yourself, but with the help of others. When you have like-minded people working together, only good things can happen."
Avid Dancer's Jacob Sumner breaks down how he thinks this DIY movement orbits, "The community in LA seems to exist on two levels. There's a scene where the folks are supported and have managers (help) and a scene of (for the most part) equally talented folks that don't have the same help. It kinda sucks watching my friends struggle to book great shows or release their music on a larger scale. I think if you are trying to do everything yourself, it seriously decreases the impact of everything you work on. From my perspective it makes the most sense to forget about trying to book shows with any other distractions and focus on making a great record."
Jacob Summers of Avid Dancer P: Cara Robbins
DIY isn't just a genre, it's a scene changing from city to city like a rubik's cube in aesthetic, setting, and especially meaning. Pollie adds, "I think the trickiest and possibly coolest part about DIY is that the term is constantly evolving and can mean different things in different cities. When I think of the DIY scene in NYC, it's way different than LA. Also, DIY is recently being used to describe the aesthetic of the actual music. In that way, I feel like I definitely have a community of other artists who record at home that have reached out to me and have been supportive. That's been really great."
Pollie, Levy, and Sumner all met through a smattering of shows throughout the city and a sincere adoration for each other, something Pollie thinks is key, "I've known Jake forever and we've played in each others bands and have just been really supportive of each other for over 3 years–we kind of pushed each other to have the confidence to release music. I've known [Rachel] only for a little bit, but I've been a big fan of hers for a while, too. I decided one day to email her a song of mine, she was super nice and got back to me asking for my record—she was just so great about being my online music friend. I also drew her a picture of Bart Simpson playing guitar while riding a skateboard. She just recently sent me her new stuff and it's absolutely beautiful."
Original R.L. Kelly artwork from LAPD's Ryan Pollie