Spring is here. The flowers are blooming, the weather is globally warming and the forecasts call for low levels of acidity in the rain … you know what that means. It’s time for Louisville’s only all hip hop festival: LouiEvolve! In year 2 there will be an expanded break dancing battle and new acts. I spoke at length with Dirty Flannel Dave. here about the process of organizing a festival, how LouiEvolve came together and other hip hop programs in town like AMPED, but we needed more! So we set out to interview Taylor Gunsauley (TG) and Dirty Flannel Dave (DFD) to find out what’s new this year, why Louisville needed it’s own hip hop festival and where they see LouiEvolve going in the future.
The festival starts tomorrow night, 04/14 at 5pm at Tim Faulkner Art Gallery. Saturday from 12-4 there will be children’s activities. Single day tickets are 15$ and 20$ gets you access to everything on both days. At all times there will be rapping, dancing, DJing and graffiti. Freestyle cyphers may break out unbeknownst. Don’t come through if you ain’t ready to catch a hot 16 and lyrically defend yourself. Just kidding, you should by all means come through. Some of the best in Louisville hip hop will be there all weekend, you should too.
You can listen to some of Dirty Flannel Dave’s music below and catch the both of them this weekend performing at the fest. Keep reading to see what they had to say.
Never Nervous: What is LouiEvolve?
Dirty Flannel Dave.: LouiEvolve is a two day hip-hop and arts festival created by and for local artists in Louisville. It’s some of the best and most beautiful talent you can get in the city.
NN: Who started it? Why? Describe the moment you and Taylor became convinced Louisville needed it’s own hip hop festival.
DFD: It was started by myself, Tay G, Yared, SCZ, Sultra and Wize Mathmatikz of CPHR DVN. The festival came out of a series of roundtables. We formed a huge think tank of artists and realized that there was a great need for something of this magnitude. We set forward and saw it through. Now we’re back for the second year.
TG: When we created the first Hip Hop Roundtable, a think tank of Louisville artists with the goal of growing the local hip hop scene, we knew there was a need for an event that showcased the entirety of our genre in the city. It wasn’t until we started building the event that it became a festival, due in large part to the sheer number of artists that wanted and needed to be involved. DFD: Personally, I had the urge to do a festival long ago when I moved back to Louisville from Bowling Green in 2012 but considered it a lofty idea. When I came home I realized how great the hip-hop scene here was because I was getting more involved. I didn’t have the same strong minds behind me then like I do now. Fast forward a few years, I meet Tay and boom here we are.
NN: What’s special about this year?
“We’re just some independent cats trying to do something nice for the city.”
DFD: Whats really special about this year is that we’re back to do it again. It’s kind of crazy really. We’re just some independent cats trying to do something nice for the city. We’re super independent and the fact that we can make it to even see year two is beyond my comprehension. We’re fortunate and thankful to all the people that have lead us to this point. We got a lot of cool tricks up our sleeves this year. We got some of the homies coming from Cincinnati to put together this epic b-boy battle. We got kid dancers and we got some OGs showing out on Saturday. On Friday we got a poetry contest called The River City Showdown. Of course we got the kids activities from 12-4 on Saturday. We’re going to be showing them how to make their own instruments and they can record themselves using it in the AMPED Mobile Recording booth. We got a lot of dope collectives performing this year so squad up and roll with the crew to LouiEvolve. Crews is definitely one of the themes for this year and I think that’s great. Shows unity.
NN: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in throwing it last year? What has been challenging going in to year 2?
TG: A lack of faith. A lack of faith in Hip Hop, in local hip hop, and in me (Tay G.) and Dave. to pull it off. From a few people within the scene, to trying to get businesses to cash sponsor, to local media, we were met with skepticism and doubt many times. It quickly became clear, that we had the stereotypes associated with hip hop and local hip hop looming overhead like a black cloud. But it was and continues to be inspiration to grind harder and surpass expectation, which I think we have done. Yo shout out to all those that saw the vision and acted accordingly, Tim Faulkner Gallery, AMPED, Rhythm Science Sound, and both our girlfriends specifically.
DFD: Going into year 2 we’re still faced with a surprising amount of doubt. Not everyone is willing to see the bigger picture of this movement. I believe there are people that see LouiEvolve as something that will phase out but what those people fail to realize is that with their support it makes our longevity more likely. Of course we can do it without their support because that’s exactly what we are doing but it would help to have some of the city’s biggest factors on board.
NN: Where is it being held?
DFD: We are at Tim Faulkner Gallery widdit. It’s in the Portland neighborhood of Louisville. We do it there every year. 1512 Portland Ave.
NN: Why is Tim Faulkner important to the hip hop community?
DFD: Tim is important because he has constantly showed us love and invited us into his space with no judgment. What he’s doing with that space is brilliant and inviting to everyone that is about peace and love. It’s a space that we all need. Tim is instrumental to the development of this scene.
“Tim is important because he has constantly showed us love and invited us into his space with no judgment.”
NN: The festival is truly hip hop, last year there were DJs, MCs and Grafitti. This year you’re adding breakdancing to it. Why is it important to include all the elements?
TG: We are dedicated to the rich history that Hip Hop has globally, and really want to participate in continuing that legacy in our region. It is important to include all elements out of respect of that history, and to ensure that all artist have a space of expression through hip hop, no matter what form that takes. We noticed a lack of infrastructure in hip hop dance, specifically breakdancing, in Louisville last year while organizing the first LouiEvolve festival. Adding the kids and adult bboy competitions this year is our attempt to inspire and help build that part of the scene locally.
DFD: I got I “Heart” Hip-Hop tatted on my forearm. It wouldn’t make sense to not include all the elements of that at a festival I help put together. As Nas would say, “It’s like Malcolm X catching the jungle fever.” Feel me?
NN: There are a lot of different styles and sub-genres in rap. What are some of the factors taken into consideration when you all are working on the lineup?
TG: Including each of those styles and subgenres is central to building the LouiEvolve lineup. We wanted to show that we have every type of hip hop represented right here in our city, from the most street to the third eye trippy styles. This year we specifically wanted to unify the city and scene’s divide, bringing artist together that rarely share spaces, much less the same stage. Beyond that we are constantly looking for artists that are really making moves and gaining notoriety in their lane, while keeping the lineup fresh and new.
“We wanted to show that we have every type of hip hop represented right here in our city, from the most street to the third eye trippy styles.”
NN: I (AP) saw (Taylor I think it was) mention that Columbus, Ohio artists would be on this years bill. Last year I caught Waco Bell’s set, a group from Bowling Green. Is the festival opening up to more regional acts?
TG: We want LouiEvolve to remain centered around Louisville Hip Hop no matter what. However, we want to include and help grow the culture regionally and nationally. Making sure there are artists represented from different parts of Kentucky and the midwest is important to making that mission, as well as, building a network that Louisville artist can take advantage of to spread their craft as far as possible. We have partnered with 2 x 2 Fest in Columbus, OH to make the bboy jams happen at LouiEvolve, and plan to maintain and build that relationship for the reasons mentioned above.
NN: What’s the goal for the festival? In 5 years what do you hope it looks like. In 10 years?
TG: Our goal for the festival is growth, on every level, while staying focused on what started this journey originally; Louisville Hip Hop. We hope to gain more fans and participants locally and nationally for LouiEvolve Festival, and Louisville Hip Hop in general. In five years, I would like to have expanded the festival to three days (we need more time!) and have at least one nationally touring act per day. Within ten years, we hope to have a hip hop festival that is one of Louisville and the midwest’s premiere festivals, while keeping the locally centered mindset that we have now. Furthermore, we hope to have expanded the LouiEvolve brand to bringing in and promoting regional and national hip hop acts, producing a more streamlined and enjoyable hip hop scene all year around.
DFD: Our goal as Tay stated is constant growth and notoriety. We want to be respected in the same light as Forecastle, Bonnaroo, AC3, etc. I want people from all over the world talking about this festival. I want this festival to make Louisville a hot bed for seeking out new and developing talent. We have so much to offer here and LouiEvolve is where you can get the most of it in a nutshell. In 5 years, I can’t even really call it myself. I’m not there yet mentally. Thank goodness for Tay and the rest of the team for being so great at forward thinking. I’m working my way there. All I can say is that in 5 years we’ll still be rolling and in 10 years we’ll be even better off. We’re just building something for the next legion of great organizers and artists to have for them. That’s what this is all about. While I don’t ever plan to split ways I plan to pass this down to trusted hands so they can expand upon what we have presented to them.
“I want this festival to make Louisville a hot bed for seeking out new and developing talent.”
NN: What are you looking forward to the most about this years event?
DFD: Man I’m super looking forward to seeing all the different crews be on stage together and do some dope stuff. I’m hyped to see Hoodstock Records they always got something new coming out of there, I’m ready to see TrapKingKai and Dillon Mcluskey get busy with the CAVE CVLT. Louisville Independent Talent (L.I.T.) is another really dope collective that I’m excited to see. They’re bringing out a bunch of new names like Bryan Bandit, David Haze, MB Cobi, and many other young dudes. Framehouse got something you absolutely cannot miss. They clued me in on what they got in store and bruh I’m telling you…no one is ready. NO ONE. I’m just happy to see everybody together.
WORTH MENTIONING: LouiEvolve is holding a Celebrity Basketball game tonight at Walden School. Jake Hellman will be representing Never Nervous.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview was conducted by our very own Jake Hellman and the notorious Allen Poe at different times, in different locations, but with a lot of heart, guys. Love is in the air.