All photos are credited to Steven’s Instagram @pitchforpennies. Featured photo is credited to Indianapolis photographer, Raval Lavar.
Lari Pati is the brainchild of Steven Russell, better known as @PitchforPennies online. The Indianapolis-based event answers complaints of party-goers everywhere by crowdsourcing the tracks that are played on the dance floor. That’s right – instead of hearing Bodak Yellow for the millionth time in a row this year, you can elect to hear Sheck Wes and Young Nudy at an Indiana outing.
In anticipation of Lari Pati’s second installment, Steven and I connected in a way that I’ve never done before. Our “interview” was more of a casual text back-and-forth. As a result, our dialogue was representative of the Lari Pati business model: laid back and truly representative of the way that our generation prefers to have things done in the first place.
If you’re already following @PitchforPennies on Twitter, you’ll know that his tweets are a healthier blend between Jaden Smith and Kanye – he freely shares each one of his thoughts as they arrive. Most of these thoughts relate to improving Indianapolis’s music and arts scene. In the following conversation, Steven elaborates on some of his most interesting tweets and delves into the excitement of the Lari Pati event.
Let’s do an ‘explain this tweet’ – I’ll send you screenshots of your best tweet threads and you can explain further without the character limit. Is that cool?
I like that! This should be good.
This is something that I’ve thought about doing for the last few months. To have the honor of doing that for a restaurant like Burger Fuel or a shop like Quality Boutique would be amazing. Through being a music curator for them, I’d be able to communicate what the brand is about for customers outside of the food and clothes they offer. It’s a small detail to some, but it can subconsciously add a lot to the dining and shopping experiences respectively.
So would this be in the form of sponsored playlists or are you thinking more along the lines of the actual music coming through the store speakers?
Music coming through the store speakers. I’d love to have sponsored playlists too, though. That’s actually a great idea.
[For the record, Steven has partnered with a laundry list of creators for Lari Pati-branded playlists. Check them out on Soundcloud.]
That would be so fitting. I’m surprised you haven’t been asked to do this already! I’m curious, what would the Burger Fuel list feel like?
I’m honestly not sure, I’d have to take a day or two to go in and get a feel for the space, the food, and the surrounding area.
I get you. Let’s move on to the next tweet. Can you explain this one?
One thing I’ve learned over the years is creative people are emotional. It’s a gift because they can tap into it and express their experiences in ways an average Joe can’t. It also can be a curse because when it comes to doing business, their emotions get in the way and can sour opportunities before they even present themselves. In doing business, there’s a lot of relationship building that has to happen if you want to properly monetize your talent in the future. If you’re a creative person, why not build a team to handle that? You can focus on creating and the person you appoint can focus on business development. The key is picking someone that not only believes in you, but has your best interest in mind.
So is one of your goals to build that network of relationship builders to help creatives who otherwise wouldn’t know how?
Yeah, I want to provide a blueprint and be a resource for people who have a good feel for art and commerce. A big part of creating the infrastructure for creatives to grow is bringing up more folks like myself who can handle the business and produce shows, making room for creatives to do what they do best – which is create.
What originally inspired you to provide that blueprint? Was it your own experience in the creative space with your clothing commerce [Roxbury Bodega] years ago?
It was more so being the person that I needed back then. Lari Pati probably wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t interned with Got Sole? or worked for Finishline back in high school. It’s important to have people that you can learn from and go to for guidance – especially when those people are doing exactly what you aspire to do. Those in position, influencers and the like, may say they don’t have the time, but with everyone being on social media everyone has the time to answer a question or two.
Totally agree. I love that you’ve developed Lari Pati to mostly be a platform for other creatives! It doesn’t seem to be much about you, so much as an opportunity for those who love the culture in the city. That leads to the next tweet.
Yeah. It’s honestly about doing everything I feel the previous generation should’ve done. It’s about paying it forward so our culture is maintained and built on for generations to come.
Support is one of the things I’ve seen talked about a lot over the years. Usually the lack of it. In my perspective, support is simple – you see something you like or are interested in, you share it. If you want to be a part of it, you buy into it with a purchase of what they’re offering. Could be tickets, merch, or whatever else they’re selling that you might want.
How do you think we can build morale and support in Indy? Especially when so many people focus on cultures outside of their own, i.e. artists and designers in New York, LA, anywhere else…
At the core, it starts with you as a person and your perspective. If you’re not confident in what you have, you’re going to look outside yourself to fill what you think is missing. When it comes to supporting those around you, it takes creators, influencers and producers being as transparent as possible about what they’re doing, why they do it and sometimes how they do it. Not everyone is going to support you but by being transparent, the lack of support won’t be because who you’re trying to reach doesn’t understand what you’re about, which is half the battle. From the consumer’s point of view, it’s about taking a chance on your peers and those in your city. You can’t complain about the lack of culture or the lack of things to do if you’re not even showing up to events or shows the artists and DJs are having. The implications from just retweeting, let alone showing up, is wild when you think about it.
True – in today’s day and age, social media support can say a ton. What displays of support in the Nap landscape were your favorite this year?
Off top was the Wild NUEVA pop-up at Quality Boutique. I came maybe 3 hours late but the fact that they sold out of everything was sick to me. One moment that really stuck out was Streetly’s Ice Cream Social. Looking back on it, that was dope. I don’t think BRICS ever had any events there. From concept to execution, it was remarkable and people showed up. I think sold out of product, too! Both displays made me really happy.
Do you see yourself breaking outside of the musical scope in support of local talent at future Lari Pati events?
Definitely. Outside of music, art and style are two areas that I’m interested in.
How do you plan to incorporate art and style into future Lari Pati events? Especially in the near future.
There’s a lot of ways we could go about it but I think incorporating art will come first between the two. I want to tap a different artist each month to create an art installation for the party. It’d be great for artists that are typically two-dimensional because it will serve as an exercise of taking their style/work and transforming it to become interactive. For attendees, they get to see their peers work in a way that they can feel apart of.
What are some two-dimensional artists that you’d be interested in getting involved in this exercise?
Off top, I want to work with Terrible Tony, Shady the Art Lady and one person I think would be really cool to work on an installation is Jeron Braxton. Only because his aesthetic is more practical to execute given it’s three-dimensional.
I’m familiar with Shady, but not the other two. I’ll have to check them out!
Okay tell me more about these postings around town. What are their purpose and how do people win the giveaway?
The flyers are something special to me. I’ve always wanted to be a part of someone’s street team. Also, as a kid in DC you’d see flyers, posters and stickers around the city with artists promoting an album. I wanted to do something similar for Lari Pati. The giveaway was something I wanted to try out. All you would have to do is go outside, take a pic for your IG story and tag me.
That’s dope! I love that. Physical flyers are like like cultural stamps. Which do you think is more powerful? Posting flyers and allowing the people of Indianapolis to physically learn about Lari Pati, similar to how you did as a kid in DC, or using your already established connections on social media?
They work hand in hand but I’d say posting flyers. It’s tried and true. Social media gives you a base, but to grow you have to go outside of that. Plus, real connections are formed in person. We can talk online for years and build a nice rapport but the moment we meet the connection is solidified after just a few minutes.
I’d love to know more about the shift from owning a clothing e-commerce [Roxbury Bodega] to what you’re doing now. What inspired the Bodega back in the day? What transitioned in your mind creatively that inspired Lari Pari today?
The inspiration for Roxbury Bodega was bringing brands and styles that weren’t carried in Indy already. From DBM to Zanerobe to Hall of Fame to JoyRich to Gitman Vintage, Deer Dana. Bigger cities had it, why can’t we have it here? Honestly the only difference between what I’m doing now and what I did then is having a better understanding of our market in comparison to major markets, along with a clear vision in how to grow the brand.
The transition to Lari Pati was out of wanting to create a SoundCloud playlist for the store. It’d play as you browse the site and would be updated every week. For the party itself, I saw an opportunity to change how things are done here when it comes to parties, shows and the creative talent we have. There’s many people creating but there’s not enough people working the backend and creating systems to help talent build a business around themselves.
Okay second to last question – how is this upcoming Lari Pati different from the first one? I went to the first one and LOVED it. Seemed like anyone who cared about the upcoming creative space in Nap made it a point to be there or contribute. Any differences this next time around?
I appreciate that a lot! The difference between the first one and this one coming up is a couple of things. First, is a bar – a party really isn’t a party without it. In an ideal world I would want to make Lari Pati an 18 to chill, 21 to spill situation. Second is marketing. A lot of the people that came to first one were people I already knew. Going into this next one, I’d think there would be more people there that I don’t know. Hopefully, this is because I’ve been hitting the streets with flyers. Third is the music. I think I have a better idea of the Lari Pati sound. I’m still working on it but I feel confident having Brooke Billions and Ferris Booler as the resident DJ’s to help create it and filter different ideas I have musically. Their ears are among the best and I trust them.
Yes they’re definitely amazing DJs. Wasn’t familiar with them until Lari Pari the first go-round. Good choices. How’d you find them?
I’ve known Brooke since I was doing street style profiles with Roxbury Bodega. I knew Aaron (Ferris Booler) from around that same time. When it came to music, I trusted their taste. They knew what was going on. With Brooke and Aaron anchoring the music and Shonrosewood anchoring the design, I believe we can make a real shift in what Indianapolis has come to expect when it comes to parties and shows. We are all our toughest critics, but it’s because we want to be the best at what we each do. I love it.
Okay! Last question! Describe the Lari Pati series using only 3 words.
Innovative. Accessible. Empowering.
Can you elaborate on the accessible?
When it comes to cool, it’s long been a thing to charge a premium or make what’s cool aspirational. I want to make what’s cool attainable for people that want to be apart of it.
Love it. Thank you so much for being flexible with this – this is my first “text interview” and I actually really enjoyed it.
Thank you. And I appreciate you for even wanting to do this!
Follow Steven to keep up with all Lari Pati events.