Based in Bushwick, the Brooklyn Do-It-Yourself (DIY) music scene brings a continuing life to the local arts community. These environments are lively, filled with the smell of hot sweat and noise that makes your ears ring. However, they are also physically and figuratively taken up by cishet white men— leaving no space for women and femmes in the scene.
Women and femmes, who have often been neglected by those who dominate the landscape, play an integral part in the scene as they bring the marginalized and disenfranchised to the forefront. Frankie Cosmos’ Greta Kline ignited the genre of ‘Bedroom Pop’ from the comfort of her room to Brooklyn venues. Pratt student and DIY participant Marbling’s Basia Kurlender expresses her complex emotions through a shy alto tone and upbeat acoustic guitar. She believes “for anything to be inherently good it has to be inclusive.” DIY venues have even served as housing for QTPOC homeless musicians, but only after a feminist push for inclusivity.
Kurlender explains that it was easier for her to be taken seriously and felt safer when playing with male-identifying bandmates. However, she describes the worthwhile moments in the collective as she eventually befriended those who supported her work, gaining a powerful sense of belonging.
A similar experience is shared with Emily Yacina, Philadelphia native and Brooklyn-based artist, in terms of finding communities through DIY. Yacina always found herself wanting to be included in the scene. When she moved to New York all the way from Philadelphia, conversations of inclusion were placed into the scene and prioritized in Brooklyn DIY. When she played music in local DIY venues in Brooklyn, she felt more comfortable and supported in these inclusive spaces. However, as she describes, the process of devoting herself to music was more challenging: “When I decided to devote myself to music, my relationship with music became a little unhealthy as I got to be more in head, over analyzing my approach to songwriting. It took me a while to foster a healthier relationship with it and make boundaries for myself. Since doing that and making this distinction, it has made me liberate myself writing based off of what people would deem good— making music special and personal once again.”
The term punk, which emerged from prison slang, gave space for a more aggressive take on rock. It was about seeking change and women involved saw this as a platform to vocalize injustices faced in a space that suffers the same oppression. Through the surfacing of small DIY labels, handmade punk zines, and the second to fourth wave feminism, this conglomerate granted women and femmes visibility and amplified the DIY scene around the country for generations to come.
It’s crucial that we continue representing local minority musicians who are still fighting for visibility. Their deafening voices have proven to make a difference for the better, keeping the punk alive through resistance of -ias and -isms and securing safe environments. Always combating the status quo, the artists fight on, despite consistent oppositions and pressures embedded in a patriarchal society.
Photography by Katixa Espinoza