You'd be hard-pressed to think of a building that inspired more character than Brooklyn's now defunct DIY music space Death by Audio. It's easy to articulate what made the space so special, but it's more powerful to show it, which is what photographer Ebru Yildiz has achieved with her new book, We've Come So Far.

Ebru spent the waning days of DBA documenting not just the musical performances that took place, but also the lives of those who lived and worked within the space. Usually, we have a viewpoint of a business trying to save itself, the 'save the rec-center trope' of old. It's a completely different affair when it's been accepted that the end is nigh; when the fight has finished and the dust has settled. We rarely get to see that, and it's within these photographs that Ebru was able to capture an intimacy that's both visceral and universal.

Within the book are photos of euphoria, pain, joy, exhaustion, and so much more. To find out how the book came to be, I sat down with Ebru for a chat.


Do you remember what it was like the first time you went to Death by Audio?

The very very first time, was when Oliver (founder of Death By Audio) just got the warehouse space. I remember bringing in bunch of us and him saying imagine we are going to built this whole second floor, there are going to be multiple rooms, a darkroom, downstairs the pedal shop and the practise space. Nobody else saw it but he did. He was so psyched. But he is always psyched.

Ebru Yildiz

Something I've always admired about you is so many photographers aspire to shoot in arenas and stadiums, but the level of fulfilment and quality of work you would produce in a small venue can captivate anyone. Do you ever find that intimate settings can help you to feel more inspired to create moments with your camera?

I like smaller venues; I like feeling part of the whole thing. I like being able to decide when to make the photos instead of being pressured by knowing I can only shoot the first 3 songs and feeling, 'let's hope there is something exciting during those songs'. I also love the fact that the musicians are reachable; there is no barricade between the audience and them. You wait in line for the same beer or bathroom line with the lead singer from the headlining band, you know? I guess I don't like situations where there is a caste system. Having more access than other people makes me equally uncomfortable as not having that access... I don't know. I shoot in arenas sometimes too, it is a different animal; and please don't get me wrong I enjoy shooting those shows too, beautiful light, shooting with 1600 iso at most is a dream. I just don't like herded into a pit and then being removed.

Ebru Yildiz

I'm curious... what do you feel it was that made you want to continue shooting after you first started? For myself, I was really bad when I first started but I remember getting a rush of excitement at just getting 1-2 good shots out of 500 or so frames. Did you also feel a similar excitement or was it more subversive for you?

Well at the beginning, it gave me a reason to be at shows all the time without feeling like a weirdo. So even if the photos were not good, I kept going back because I just love the music. Of course, I feel insanely excited when I capture something I see exactly the way I see it. Because you know, there are so many you miss, especially during live shows. And same goes with portraits too; particularly those in between moments. And it is something that could never be replicated like the way it happened at that exact moment.

Ebru Yildiz

When did you get to know the guys from A Place To Bury Strangers and can you remember the first time you saw them live?

I remember it very clearly because it was such a defining moment for me. They were the first local band I 'discovered' that I absolutely loved. It was at Coral Room. Either end of 2003 or 2004. I became friends with Oliver's then girlfriend Karen. And actually because of her I became friends with all my close friends right now.

Ebru Yildiz

I remember when Exploding Head came out, I'd be in the computer lab at my college and I'd sometimes be a dick and turn the record on, turn off the monitor, and have the album blaring so people couldn't determine where it was coming from right away. I love that album and to me, there hadn't been anything like it quite a while. The live show is what APTBS are known for, but I'm curious if you have a happy memory of listening to their albums?

Oh I don't know! I think I listen to them whenever I am agitated to get myself grounded again so I guess you would not call that a happy memory. Way back, they had these homemade CDs to give away to people as a sample or something. They used one of my photos of their then drummer as the cover, and I was in such awe that they did that that, you would not believe, I don't remember which songs were on it, but I remember listening to it and looking at the cover, and saying "god, I want to do this forever."

Ebru Yildiz

Operating within a studio is quite massive, let alone working within one. Over the years I've grown to notice how a studio can make so many photographers feel intimidated. What has been the biggest surprise to you, working within a studio environment more?

There is nothing to be intimidated by a studio because everything is so controlled. I think taking photos at a live show is more intimidating since there is nothing that you can control except for where you stand and your camera buttons. The only surprise I would say, I did not think I would enjoy taking photos in a studio environment, but I really do.

Ebru Yildiz

Getting back to Death by Audio, do you remember when/where you were when you heard that it was going to be shut down?

To be honest, I don't remember it at all but I remember writing to both Matt and Oliver and saying I want to document the whole thing. When you live in New York, you get used to hearing all these New York institutions shutting down and feel like the New York you know is disappearing right before your eyes. But still, you are never prepared enough for that special one, you know.

Ebru Yildiz

When it came to documenting the last days of the venue, was it more important to capture that sense of community over anything else?

Yes, absolutely! I even remember saying to myself, my whole focus is going to be on the people and not as many shows. But how could you do it at a place like Death By Audio where the glue that is holding the people together is the love for music.

Ebru Yildiz

How did you decide on the cover image?

Picking the cover was the easiest thing I did for this book, I think. 
It was either going to be a crowd shot or that one of Oliver. Or the other image that was used for the 3X LP cover.

Ebru Yildiz

One of the many things I love about the book is how it chronicles the people who not only went to the venue but who also lived in it. What was it like forming relationships with these people and gaining their trust to photograph them so intimately?

I already knew Oliver, Matt and Jay too. And photographed them before. For the rest of the people, I really don't know. It was so generous of them to let me do this. I was so conscious of not being intrusive and being respectful to their space and their privacy. I have never been involved in a project this long so maybe it is something that comes with time. But overall I just didn't want to interrupt the moment, you know? In terms of gaining their trust, I think when you show up to a place day after night after day and constantly work, they recognize the dedication and be ok with it. I don't know if everyone trusted me fully until they actually saw the book.

Ebru Yildiz

An element that makes the end of DBA so unique is how they did the last shows. Most places would just announce a final show and some people would come but DBA had shows night after night for several weeks, and each one would have a crazy long line of people hoping to get in. People who had no idea who would be playing, but knew that they wanted to be a part of something, to be in a place they love. When you look back on that, what do you think about it? I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before.

I think that was the most awesome thing ever. People were waiting on the lines not necessarily because they want to see a hot band but more for to say their farewell to the venue. So it was coming from a genuine place. I mean don't get me wrong, people knew it was going to be epic because of Edan and Matt's dedication to the venue over the years but still, waiting in the cold to see bands for hours is pretty bad ass. And they didn't sell tickets online it was first come first serve. And I think that is really great, I loved it. I hate it when you have to buy tickets way in advance for venues that are supposed to be DIY or whatever. You just needed to show up.

Ebru Yildiz

It's a cliche question, but one I must ask: when did you know you were creating a book or that these works would end up chronicled in some way?

From the beginning I wanted to do a book. That is what I had in mind. I was thinking more like a zine though and definitely not a 200-page hardbound book. I didn't know if I had it in me or not. It was not really easy at all. I also didn't know if it is going to be possible because of financial reasons; obviously I don't have the funds to do anything like this on my own. And when I started the pre-orders I was so worried that it is not going to happen. But at some point I had to say fuck it, I just have to put it out regardless. I still didn't break even but I am not complaining, the reality is if I wanted to make a book to make money, I would have tried to go on tour with Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber or someone like that you know; put out a book of their photos. So there is that.

Ebru Yildiz

In the early 2000s, there were still a lot of DIY venues about, but it did begin to feel as though that they were operating on borrowed time. What do you feel it was that made DBA standout to you among places like Glasslands or a place like Cameo Gallery for example?

DIY venues are not supposed to last forever. I mean, I think in New York nothing can last forever anyway. They open and they close, it is just in their nature. I think each venue takes after the people who are operating it. I can't compare Death By Audio to other places because I am not involved with them as closely as Death By Audio. But I can tell you what made Death By Audio special to me.

Everything about it was so organic, including the way they started. It was a bunch of like-minded musicians trying to make rent that month, you know. How more accessible can they make the music. Mostly $8-$10 all ages shows with cheap booze. They have never done any sponsored events, never sold tickets online. I don't know I feel like they did everything right. I loved that Edan had "I will give everything a chance once" attitude. They supported the touring little bands a great deal. Ty Segall had his first New York show there; Future Islands had their second I think. Nourishing touring bands is so crucial.

Looking back, what do you wish the Ebru at the start of this project could know, that the Ebru of today knows?

I have been super organized from the beginning. I even switched up my workflow to accommodate the volume of photos. So there is really nothing I would have done differently in that sense. Well maybe, there were a few shows I missed, I don't think I could ever have imagined myself saying this but maybe I could have been there even more than I did, even move in for those months or something.

Ebru Yildiz

What was the day after like? The day after Death by Audio ended. What did you do? How did you spend that day?

Well after the shows were over, the next morning I went back because it was the actual moving out day, so I was there all day while the guys were packing their last pieces into trucks, cars etc. But the following day, I think I literally slept 24 hours straight.

Now that the book is finished, now that it's out in the world, how does it feel? How does it feel to know you set out to do something and you've done it?

It feels weird. Every time I put out a photo I feel vulnerable. So imagine how I must feel with a book full of them. There is definitely a feeling of relief though because I'd been working on this for so long. I just hope I will get to make at least one person feel how it felt like being at Death By Audio.