A Field Guide to the Valley's DIY Bands | Phoenix New Times

A Field Guide to the Arizona's DIY Bands

Five bands who have great ideas and affordable recording software.
Audrey Heartburn do it themselves.
Audrey Heartburn do it themselves. Kayla Jeanne
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Arizona artists have been doing it themselves for years.

Some of the most influential and local scene-defining artists sprung from nothing but great ideas and access to affordable recording software. In a lot of ways, DIY music can be seen as music in its purest form without influence from record labels or sponsors — just a bunch of kids making great music on their own in the desert, for anyone who wants to listen.

These five bands are far from the only fantastic DIY outfits, but they’re a few favorites we believe are worth listening to.

Human Kitten

Elijah Llinas, the man behind the moniker Human Kitten, knows how to tug at your heartstrings with his songs about isolation and enduring mental illness.

"DIY is anyone anywhere making something meaningful without the connections or resources to have it amplified," says Llinas. "DIY should be inherently political, radically inclusive, and based around the philosophy of art’s function being a window into a deeper understanding of the human condition. An ethos where all art can have value, where all artists can take up space, where no market can dictate importance."

Human Kitten’s latest album, titled An Embrace of Incomprehension, is available digitally and on cassette.


This Phoenix-based alt-rock outfit add a comforting bluesy vibe to their music.

"DIY was indie before record labels turned it into a genre," describes frontman Tommy Lake. "The Phoenix underground scene consists of shows put on at venues like The Trunk Space and Cosmic Jam Hole. The shows are often not heard about by the masses, but they bring a certain energy people always remember."

Commiserate’s latest single, titled “Grain of Sand,” is available via Bandcamp.

Tonight's Sunshine

This Tuscon quartet have been livestreaming to fans during the quarantine. That's a trait that exemplifies the common goals of a lot of DIY artists: community service and commitment through music. The group's dedication to charity can also be heard in their sound: refreshing, funky, multicultural, and electric.

Tonight’s Sunshine’s newest single, “Blueroom,” is now available on Spotify.

Audrey Heartburn

Glam, hip-hop, and psychobilly aren’t typically genres that fit well together, but this Tempe-based band pull it off well. With glittering live performances and extremely catchy beats, it’s hard not to be drawn to their music.

Audrey Heartburn’s most recent single, “WTF,” featuring Tour Guide Saul is available via Bandcamp.

Olympic Games

One thing about DIY bands is the energy they bring. Olympic Games blend all of the best energetic genres and present them in a messy and delightful package.

"DIY to us means being broke," says the band’s guitarist and vocalist Dallas Selph. "We recorded in a friend's DIY home studio with cheap mics and pirated software. I learned to solder to fix my busted amp and repair instrument cables ... Limitations breed creativity, and being broke is a helluva limitation."

Olympic Games' self-titled release is available on Bandcamp.

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