INTERVIEW: The Saving Our Style crew discusses creative culture in Louisville & more!

For those of you that may not know, Saving Our Style is a collective of creatives, artists and dot connectors who have curated some of the cities most eclectic and successful events. Whether bringing bourbon connoisseurs together over B-side hip hop cuts in an art gallery, recreating a 90’s themed bedroom as a living art display, dropping highly acclaimed records or snapping pictures of the best of Louisville’s places to go, things to do and foods to eat, there is always something new and innovative coming from the crew.

Recently I interviewed the team consisting of Vane, Chetti, James Lindsey, Magic, Reece, Yella, Rey and P. Moore to get insight into how they formed, how they’ve changed and their thoughts on Louisville’s creative culture. The answers to my questions are collaborative, but organized by Chetti.

Never Nervous: When did Saving Our Style begin? What was the void you all perceived that needed to be filled by beginning SOS?

Chetti: From my understanding, SoS started in 2005. We actually started as a sneakerhead crew, being that we all met by having a common love of sneakers. After we realized we had passions, talents, and common interests that extended beyond sneakers, we decided to mobilize our collective efforts to push urban culture forward in Louisville by shining a light on the aspects of Louisville & KY we thought were cool—shining a light on things that weren’t covered by traditional press outlets.

NN: Have the goals and/or vision changed? If so how and why?

Chetti: Yes and No. Yes in the sense that our purpose, vision, and ways that we express ourselves is ever-evolving. We’ve done a lot of different things somewhat successfully over the years, from the sneaker & gear game, to blogging, photography, music, art, events, etc. As we’ve grown & matured, having the freshest kicks is less of a motivation vs being involved in things that impact the youth positively & shifting the culture in substantive ways.

No because we haven’t change the core of who we are as people. One of our mantras is “restore the integrity,” which means to put an element of authenticity, honor, and passion into the things we do rather than to do things to make a quick buck or to operate in ways that are less than forthright.

“As we’ve grown & matured, having the freshest kicks is less of a motivation vs being involved in things that impact the youth positively & shifting the culture in substantive ways.”

NN: Groups/collectives who set out to accomplish anything have to deal with overcoming not only the obstacles to achieve their goal, but also have to work around one another’s different personalities and temperaments. What are some keys to working as a team? Did it take some time to define roles or learn each other’s work flows?

Chetti: Some keys to working as a team are getting to know the strengths & weaknesses of the individuals on the team, creating coalitions within the larger team with people who work well together, and defining roles based on people’s strengths & weaknesses.

NN: What is unique about Louisville’s music culture.

Chetti: I think now more than ever, Louisville hip hop is starting to have a unique sound & feel, from the slang to the swagger to the accents. But historically, Louisville music culture as it pertains to rap used to be everyone mimicking the music from their favorite region, South, West Coast, or East Coast.

“Louisville hip hop is starting to have a unique sound & feel, from the slang to the swagger to the accents.”

NN: Could Louisville hold a festival that accentuates the city in a way similar to how SXSW accentuates Austin? (I stole this question from yall!)

Chetti: Being that you can reach over 50% of the US total population within a few hours’ drive from Louisville, I think we have some logistical advantages that make us a decent spot for a music fest. Of course we already have Forecastle which is a big deal, but they leave much to be desired when it comes to rap/hip hop for whatever reason. With support from city fathers & power brokers, I do believe Louisville COULD have a definitive festival with more hip hop acts. But WILL it happen? I’m doubtful because Louisville hasn’t been the best at supporting platforms geared toward youth and/or hip hop culture.

NN: What went into Bourbon and B-Sides that you think makes it a success?

Chetti: Vane has a saying, “collaboration is key.” I think what makes B+B a success is the fact that Goodtimers & Savingourstyle were able to leverage their collective strengths & do something together that they couldn’t do separately. Goodtimers has curated large scale urban events for well over a decade. Savingourstyle has done a variety of events over the years, focusing on music and/or art. Together, we’re able to provide an experience that really didn’t exist in Louisville on such a scale. No pride or egos—just two entities who have sustained success in different aspects of the culture and decided to come together to push the nightlife culture forward.

NN: All Crews United/ All Waves United… what would you say the experience has been trying to create a sense of unity among the cities various cultural/musical influencers?

Chetti: The experience has been mostly positive! Of course there are a few negative situations as well, but the love always outweighs the hate.

NN: Is Louisville’s hip hop scene united?

Chetti: No. There’s about 3 to 4 rap scenes in Louisville. There’s some overlap among them, but they’re still distinct scenes. The West End trap rap scene is different from the Highlands rap scene, which is different from the South End scene. Then you have certain local artists who play bigger venues in town, then other rappers who mainly perform at open mic events and/or put together shows at smaller venues, restaurants, & bars.

“There’s about 3 to 4 rap scenes in Louisville. There’s some overlap among them, but they’re still distinct scenes.”

NN: Can you give us a few creatives (clothing/designer/graphic/visual/video/culinary/artists of any kind) to check out or keep an eye on?

Chetti: I hate the shoutout portion of the interview because I always leave someone out!!! But peep Mike Grapes in Lexington, Know Nothing, Beyond the Pen, Hunter Morgan, Premium Co, Tyler Davis, SCED and K. Alexander with the clothes. Tommy Johns, Reece from SoS, Roman Lane are dope with the video work. Tommy Johns, Jeremy Richie, SNO, Jeremy Booth & James Ray, & Darnell Anderson have nice graphic design work. @ChefDon_ on Twitter is going crazy in the food game right now. The homie Coop is the aesthetic gawd of all things fly. Axel Roley is making waves sonically, putting on for the South End. Also, keep an eye out for my lil bro Boleyjack & his homie Red on the rap tip.

NN: If you had to advise somebody who wanted to undertake a new creative venture, what advice would you give them?

Chetti: Just Do It. The win is in the try. I read somewhere that there are no losses, just lessons. That resonated with me. Don’t be afraid to fail, but also make sure you have competency in whatever concept you’re trying to introduce to the world!

NN: What is your most memorable Saving Our Style moment/achievement/event/experience?

Chetti: I don’t think I can highlight a most memorable experience of all time. You could ask me this question 10 times and you’d get 10 different answers lol. But the experience that comes to mind initially is the 90s State of Mine art exhibit we curated with Land of Tomorrow art gallery. It was a surreal experience. Part party, part interactive art experience. There was a pop up skating rink w/ a DJ in an inverted pyramid for a DJ booth cranking out music, free beer & wine, and a variety of different people all under one roof! The whole night was full of inspiration and it was great to see people respond & react to the exhibit we curated as well as all the other stuff going on in the gallery that night.