It's All in the Family

an online music community flourishes in Eau Claire

Thom Fountain, photos by Frank H. Robinson

DRUM BATTLE. Farms performs at a Round Robin show at The Grand Little Theatre. They will also be playing on July 4 as part of the FMLY BBQ.
DRUM BATTLE. Farms performs at a Round Robin show at The Grand Little Theatre. They will also be playing on July 4 as part of the FMLY BBQ.

The Do-It-Yourself movement has flourished in recent years with thousands of books and TV programs teaching you how to do everything from plant a garden to build a whole dang house. But at its heart, DIY is kind of lonely, isn’t it? Enter: FMLY, an online music and arts community that focuses on a new take on DIY – Do-It-Together. 

FMLY started in 2008 in Los Angeles and has spread around the globe, including a decent sized group in Eau Claire. Local and former local bands including Farms, Vacation Dad, Yohuna and Truman Peyote have all been active members of the community, participating in festivals in Los Angeles, New York City and Florida.

Essentially, FMLY is just an online message board, but the impact is so much more. FMLY is truly like an extended family. Everyone is related by this one bloodline and while there are closer knit groups within the larger whole everyone interacts and helps each other out. FMLY bands and artists use the community to book tours, find places to stay and share their recordings with a built in crowd. 

And that word, sharing, is a main part of FMLY. Many of the artists post music for free. Most of the shows and tours are done in living rooms or co-ops with no cost for admission (but always a suggestion to donate). Overall, the group promotes alternatives to the traditional venue shows and recording label deals.

One of those shows is coming to Eau Claire on July 4. A caravan of artists migrating from the FMLY Festival in Brooklyn back to Los Angeles will be passing through. Out-of-town artists include Little Spoon (Boston), Emily Reo (New York), Radiator Girls (Minneapolis) and Jack Littman (Los Angeles).

Johanne Swanson, who plays as Yohuna, has been involved in FMLY for years in Eau Claire and Los Angeles. She said her time in LA – where there are regular meet-ups, festivals and mass bike rides – while working for a performing rights organization connected her to the community.

“We definitely live in a time when organic communication and sharing isn’t necessarily face-to-face,” Swanson said. “The Internet is an incredible tool that has made FMLY accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.”

You can find out more about FMLY on their website, www.thefmly.com.

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