Jackson Boytim is a well known DIY promoter within the Pittsburgh Music Scene. Best known for working under the moniker, "Fine, I'll Do It Booking", Jackson has established a name for himself in the local scene with his prolific amount of shows. FoundSound sat down with the legend himself to discuss his work, Pittsburgh music, and the DIY scene.
1. How did you get started with booking and working within the DIY scene?
Well, I just kind of started doing it! I was going to a lot of shows because it was something to do, was inexpensive, a way to meet new people, and a space to be free of constraints. I just met a bunch of people doing it by showing up to shows and getting to know local bands. Soon people thought I was a promoter and would ask me how to get onto a show in Pittsburgh, and then I would direct them to my friends who were actually booking.
Eventually, I just said yes to helping people. It started out with me just slotting bands onto existing shows, and then I got into habit of making my own full shows. Usually it started by asking someone if I could use their house or securing some other venue, like Roboto, then getting bands or local acts. My big job during a show now is securing the things needed to get the show running- a PA, getting the money at the door, etc.
2. So how do you find time to do all of this stuff?
It's a lot, honestly. I'm always getting messages of people trying to get onto shows, trying to organize shows, or (god-forbid) bands jumping off shows right before they are scheduled.
Honestly, I have this weird anxiety about finding venues and asking people if I can use their houses and stuff. Another challenge is getting the right combination of bands that will do it, that will mesh, and that will fit the time constraints. The five-band-show used to be the way to go, but now I like the three or four-band show, cause five can be a little much sometimes. Four acts is a good benchmark for me to work around.
3. What does a normal day of booking look like for you?
I wake up at 9:30, don't get out of bed until 11:30. Sometimes I'm working things out, but sometimes I just stare at the ceiling thinking, "oh my god I have so much shit to do." I try to go back to sleep then can't go back to sleep.
But in all seriousness, I do a bit of messaging, catching up on people, making sure shows are locked down, making sure there is art for the show promotions. I do a lot of art for the shows. I get shit off Tumblr or Google to use as the background or I'll use my own mediocre Photoshop skills to get a piece of anime or a picture of a cat to make a flier. Occasionally, I'll outsource the art to cool people.
On a day-of-show I do all this, make sure the show is good to go, then sometimes go out for a walk and try not to look at my phone or deal with the messages sometimes. But then I'll look into my phone and I'll have like eighty messages and I'll be thinking, "Holy Shit, everyone just messaged me back in the same one minute" and try to respond to them.
Then I'll usually get a ride into town, make sure the bands are all loaded into the venue correctly. We usually say doors at 7, and the usual kick-off time is about 8....22? I wanted to say 8:20 but I'll always get a random message asking for the address so I try to make sure those people catch the show. The aim is to get done by 11.
4. Do you get paid at all from doing any of this?
Not really. Sometimes there are really good nights and I'll take five or ten bucks to recoup money I spent on beer or something, but I'm really just trying to repay the locals or touring bands. Sometimes the money stretches, and sometimes it doesn't. One venue that does a really good job at that is Bates Hardcore Gym. The guys there sometimes tell me, "I'll give you twenty bucks to work the door"- and you know, I'll work for it. At some more "established" venues they'll pay you to do things like work the door and whatnot. But the money is not my motivation for doing this.
5. Do you see split a scene between the DIY scene and the non-DIY scene? What do you think those differences are?
I think there definitely is a split, and there are a few differences. One, quality of organization. Not that a DIY can't provide that, but at a lot of these professional venues you'll have someone who is hired to do that. There's just more money in it. DIY, unfortunately, can be conducive to unscrupulous persons sometimes. But DIY centers about helping bands, and getting the touring band paid.
Often times, the sound quality at these non-DIY venues is better because they have the money for it. Sometimes that means you'll get a better show, but sometimes it doesn't. I just feel that some of the artists that play these shows, but not all, can come off as "Wow, we are all so good at our instruments, listen to us play"- and I'm thinking "Yeah guys, this is nice I guess." DIY is definitely a bit more sloppy but that may mean more passion that can develop into something else, or more experiential takes on ideas.
Honestly, I think there is a place for both of them. More people should focus on smoothing over the transition between the two, like giving DIY musicians who are good and polished opportunities to play those more established venues.
6. Have you ever worked with non-DIY promoters and venues on shows?
Sort-of. Insofar as bands that I worked with that are more professional, Nevada Color is one that sticks out. They are good dudes- I recently did a show with them at Roboto and they were great guys about it. Some of the guys have also asked me to place touring bands on shows, which is actually how I met Dragon King, who are really nice people.
7. Do you think the DIY space can be used for all kinds of art? And is that something you see coming up more in the Scene?
I think there are definitely people in the area that are working to incorporate different forms of expressions into the scene. For example, I've tried to sometimes incorporate visual art into my shows and have artists hang their works in spaces where I'm holding shows. I think there is a little bit of a separation sometimes, but I feel like more people need to ask if it's cool to show their work in a space. I think shows in shops are a really cool way to start doing that and add to the ambiance of the event. I think that it's really cool when people can showcase their art and music at the same time. But you need to make sure no one's going to be spiking their PBR through someone's canvas, you know? That's kind of a horror story!
8. Do you believe personal ethics and politics have a place, or should have a place, into the DIY scene?
They all have their places, and can all be used to really help people. First, let me just put a giant qualifier blanket over this entire response: I am straight, white male who's had a fairly privileged existence and allowed to be himself and been afforded some opportunities that may not have been offered to others . But, again, I really think it depends on the context. For example, if you're a band that is a queer, gender non-conforming type band and more outspoken, that have something to say and are using your music to change the discourse of society, than those people absolutely should be doing that and trying to create an ethic within the community that dissuades oppression that hurts people.
Of course, people can always point to examples of individuals being "sensitive" or applying trigger warnings. I think that a lot of people may have a problem with what's being expressed, but the blow-back is that people call them "so PC". But those PC-critics are not allowing people to critique ideas that have roots in things that are problematic or nonsensical. .
The DIY scene is a community, one that has been rocked by allegations toward certain individuals in the past. But we always have to consider those ethical questions, and we should excise people who are toxic in the scene.
9. What do you think makes the Pittsburgh music scene unique?
It has certain elements of things that are unique to it. I think Pennsylvania is geographically really cool tour-wise. Pittsburgh is a choke-point for touring in the Midwest, and has a lot of different influences and sounds regionally and nationally. We also have a lot of different neighborhoods that have their own sounds and styles. We are not the biggest town but we aren't the smallest town, and people by-and-large are pretty friendly here. The downside is we have dumb beer laws.
10. Where do you see the Pittsburgh Music Scene going in the future?
I don't know, I guess people are going to keep making music and it's going to become more democratic in the making.Hopefully there isn't some kind of crackdown on DIY shows, but who knows? I mean we just got marijuana decriminalized. All in all, as long as there are bands, there will always be people wanting to have shows.
To learn more about Jackson and his shows, check out the Fine, I'll Do It Booking Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/fineilldoit666/?fref=ts