If You Make It There, You’ll Make It Anywhere

by Libby Zay

If you haven’t heard of If You Make It, your next favorite band is just a few clicks away.  For lovers of independent music and film, this catalog of do-it-yourself culture is a treasure trove of free yet priceless media.

In just a few short years, If You Make It has become a full-fledged archive of live performances and short films.  Add to that a forum, free album downloads, and a show calendar and you have a state-of-the-art site with a DIY spirit.  With the ability to bridge gaps made by time and geography, the website is now helping to cultivate the community it intended to catalog.

If You Make It is best known for it’s up-close-and-personal "Pink Couch Sessions", videos that showcase unplugged artists on a salmon-colored sofa.  What results is sometimes silly, often awkward, and always entertaining.  Although most music circles are overwhelmingly testosterone-laden, ladies have been lovin’ the pink couch.  Don’t miss these female-fronted sessions: Hop Along, Queen Ansleis, Witches, Laura Stevenson (& Dave Davison ), Best Friends Forever, Madeline, Noun, Watercolor Paintings, P.S. Eliot, Sara Lankutis, Vivian Girls, Lemuria, Cheeky, and Jettison Sister.

Dave Garwacke is the Brooklyn-based smiling face behind If You Make It.  His enthusiasm to support and document the talents of his friends is the driving force that keeps the website up to speed.  A computer programmer by trade and musician by inclination, Dave soon found himself on the other side of the camera.  What results is a labor of love that is as sincere as it is tech-savvy.

The Pioneer of the Pink Couch took the time to sit down and answer these questions for BUST:
B : How would you describe If You Make It to someone who wasn’t a close friend or not involved in the music community?  

D : IYMI is basically an archive of things I like and want to support. I started filming local shows/festivals, with the intention of documenting bands that weren’t getting a lot of exposure. After a while I noticed that 50% of the shows sounded awful, which spawned the idea of the Pink Couch Sessions, where I could control the sound better. I also enlisted some friends to help out with making bumpers and funny videos for the site. IYMI also hosts free demos and records by some of my friend’s bands.

B : Obviously, the website is time consuming.  Why do you do it?  What keeps you motivated?

D : I work as a freelance designer, which allows me to work from home on a regular basis. I also end up doing a lot of maintenance work for sites, which gets old fast. IYMI allows me to broaden my knowledge on a bunch of different programs and programming. I accept donations to supplement the time I spend, but as of right now it’s completely in the red. I wasn’t looking to make money, but I would love it if this was my only job.

B : Why videos?

D : I used to live in a house where bands would play all the time. Unfortunately no one really took the initiative to document it. Looking back now it makes me sad to think that there is nothing to remember it by. Camcorders are getting cheaper and better every year, and I think it has finally gotten to the point where a normal person can film music that’s listenable and looks great. Being tall (6’4), I also have the advantage of holding the camera over everyone’s head, and it gives me an outlet for my social awkwardness.

B : You mentioned that If You Make It was created to catalog what was going on around you.  Do you think that the website has created something tangible for people in the music community?

D :  I think it brings another dimension to a band that many won’t get unless they see them live. For some people it’s impossible to see their favorite bands, because of distance or time or money. YouTube has been great for doing this, but unfortunately it’s 90% garbage. It’s plagued by awful audio and grainy video. A couple of people have emailed me about starting similar projects, and I think it’s awesome. More communities need to document what they’ve been doing.  It definitely puts a lot of things in perspective. Especially when you realize what you wore 5 years ago. JNCO jeans!

B : If You Make It seems like an ever-evolving project.  Any big plans for the future or other projects going on?

D : I’m constantly thinking about ways to expand the site. I want to get some roots in the Brooklyn scene and start getting to know more area bands. I just added a show calendar to the website to help promote local shows, and I’m trying to come out more to check out new bands. The site is going to launch a "Blue Couch" section, where I will ask bands back for a second time and go completely nuts with audio equipment and everything. We’re also looking into putting the music out in some form, whether it’s on DVD, CD or Vinyl.  I also want to add some how-to videos to the site, like a cooking show or music lessons.

Halo Fauna Picture
(Photo by Melissa Humphries)

 Be sure to check out Dave’s drumming in any of these amazing bands:

Halo Fauna (http://www.myspace.com/halofauna)
Thousandaires (http://www.myspace.com/landseal)
Kudrow (http://www.myspace.com/yokudrow)
The State Lottery (http://www.myspace.com/statelottery)
Golden Age of Radio (http://www.myspace.com/thegoldenageofradio)

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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