Features Regular Columns Guest Column: Amy Oden - Demystification: A Lesson in DIY

Regular Columns: Guest Column: Amy Oden - Demystification: A Lesson in DIY


Amy Oden is a Washington, DC musician, grad student, and filmmaker. Her recent documentary From the Back of the Room explores women in DIY punk, considering such issues as sexism, motherhood, sexuality, activism, and more—encompassing a broad take on the role women take in the scene. While Oden is game for talking about gender issues at any time, we opted to give her a break from the film’s subject matter to talk about other DIY topics.

Demystification: A Lesson in DIY 

Over the past fifteen years, my personal romance with DIY culture has waxed and waned. Participating in this community has enabled me to find political inspiration, given me the ability to travel, and taught me productive uses for my anger at an unjust world. I’ve also had my heart broken more times than I can count, when people’s actions have fallen short of what their words made them out to be. Growing up in this community, I’ve learned to focus my energy on the things that I find fulfilling or redeeming about it. 

Doing it yourself forces you to keep learning. Yes, doing things in a DIY capacity can be revolutionary and anticapitalist/anticorporate, but the other half of the equation is demystification. When I say demystification, I mean being accessible and honest about the things that you are an “expert” at. Ability, skills, and ideas can only be spread if the people who are “experts” at certain things are willing to share their experiences. 

Becoming an “expert” at something really just means that you’ve had the time and resources to focus on it – which is a privilege. If you’ve had the privilege of being in a band, booking shows or fests, or touring – it is unbelievably valuable when you take the time to break down your experiences for other people. I can’t think of anything less DIY than refusing to share skills or information, or pretending that the things you know how to do are really all that difficult. The attitudes that I’ve seen some people have regarding records, gear, audio recording, or even booking is totally antithetical to everything I know about DIY culture. 

DIY also means asking for things if you need them and trusting your intuition. If you want information, go looking for it. If you never ask for advice or help, you’ll never meet other folks who are doing the same things you are. When I started booking shows, playing music, touring, shooting films, and planning fests, I had no idea what I was doing. Anyone you meet who is a guitar god or a total legend in their field had no idea what they were doing at one point. Don’t forget that. Also, “I don’t know that band” is a sentence that I’ve seen people scorned for uttering. If someone gets uppity with you when you try to engage them, know that it’s not you: it’s them.

Skill shares and conferences are both activities that are conducive to the flow of information in a nonjudgmental setting. Something as informal as telling people you like to come over and swap ideas can qualify as this, by the way. I’ve been unbelievably fortunate in my ability to be surrounded by a local community in D.C. that values this kind of thing. The point I’m trying to make is that we all have larger capacities for action than we realize.

Teaching one another can also help us hone our own skills. Once you’ve done a particular thing enough times, congratulations, you’ve become an “expert.” Realize that your skills and ideas can be assets to the larger community if you choose to let them. By simply and honestly sharing things with one another, we’re enabling other people to follow their hearts. 

On that note, feel free to send me any questions about documentary film, festival organizing, or gender studies. I’m always stoked to connect.


Amy can be reached at amy @ fromthebackoftheroom . com.


Posted on Nov. 17, 2011, 10:04 a.m.

KFAI - Undead
Leave a comment
Guest Column: Amy Oden - Demystification: A Lesson in DIY

Posted on Nov. 17, 2011, 10:04 a.m.

Share this content
Related news

Bands 1QI: Heartless, The Careeners, Pastepunk, Amy Oden

Posted Sept. 29, 2013, 7:03 p.m.

Our newest feature here at Scene Point Blank is our semi-daily quickie Q&A: One Question Interviews. Follow us at facebook or twitter and we'll post one interview every ...

Bands Die Young Entering Studio

Posted March 9, 2005, 1:40 a.m.

Die Young will be entering the studio tomorrow to begin recording a new EP for Immigrant Sun Records. The EP will be titled Survival Instinct and is expected out June ...

Records Minus The Bear Recording New LP

Posted Jan. 10, 2005, 9:18 a.m.

Minus the Bear entered the studio last week to begin recording a brand new LP with Matt Bayles handling all production duties. The band has written roughly 14 songs for ...

KFAI - Root Of All Evil

More like this

Also in this section
Get In The Van Dummy, We're Going Surfing!

Regular Columns Get In The Van Dummy, We're Going Surfing!

Posted June 7, 2021, 2:39 p.m.
Running on Nothing

I was in a band called The Lippies. I say "was" because we just broke up. Again. Hahahahaha! When we formed, we never had any ...

It's Only Illegal if You Get Caught

Regular Columns It's Only Illegal if You Get Caught

Posted April 18, 2021, 2:32 p.m.
Running on Nothing

About a year ago, we found ourselves in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Out of boredom, I did a livestream on my social media ...

Guest Column: The Lippies - Uncanny Indeed

Regular Columns Guest Column: The Lippies - Uncanny Indeed

Posted Feb. 21, 2021, 7:35 a.m.
Running on Nothing

Welcome to Running on Nothing, the latest addition to our stable of columns at Scene Point Blank. Running on Nothing offers a look at the ...



Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.