LoveRenaissance, Creative Collective Behind Raury, Announces LVRN Weekend 2016

Raury photographed in 2016.
Zoe Rain

Raury photographed in 2016.

Atlanta artist Raury celebrated his 18th birthday in a big way in 2014. The first annual Raurfest and his first live show ever came at a time when his eclectic singles like "Cigarette Song" and "God’s Whisperer" drew in curious fans that didn’t quite know what to label him but were fond of his unique blend of hip-hop, folk and alternative rock. After releasing his forward-thinking EP Indigo Child and becoming a blog darling, the progressive musician thought of another grand idea: putting on a local festival in ATL that catered to creatives and the cultural purveyors of the world.

"Raurfest was a reflection on culture when it started and will continue to each and every year,” Raury tells Billboard. “We are being very selective in making sure we scale at the right times and being honest to our demographic."

Last year, Raurfest evolved from an intimate free event to a show packing the historic Atlanta Freight Depot located in Underground Atlanta. The line-up consisted of artists such as Post Malone, D.R.A.M., Big K.R.I.T., Trinidad James, Keith Ape, and more. For Raurfest 2016, LoveRenaissance, the marketing and management agency who helps produce the festival with Raury, are focused on expanding it into a three-day event called LVRN Weekend 2016 from July 1 to July 3.

While the music portion of Raurfest officially takes place on Saturday, the LVRN festivities start off with The 50, a private dinner of social media influencers, music industry executives, and other cultural innovators in partnership with the ‘92 Dream Team and ChooseATL. On Saturday, there will be a Trill Yoga session with lifestyle and fitness instructor Claire Fountain, followed by a Shark Tank-esque panel made up angel investors, established creatives, and executives from music, fashion and art to discuss career opportunities with the youth from the city. You can ditch lazy Sunday too as LVRN Weekend will wrap up with a pool party at Nirvana.

“Fans should always expect to not expect anything,” Raury says of this year’s Raurfest, whose performers will be revealed at a later date. “Who knows, one year Raurfest might just be a roller derby contest.”

With the announcement of LVRN Weekend today, Billboard spoke with Sean Famoso and Justice Baiden, the co-founders of LVRN and co-managers of Raury, to discuss the success of Raurfest, the idea behind LVRN Weekend and Raury’s next move.

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Raurfest started in 2014. Two years in, what have you learned from the experience?

Sean Famoso: I came from a promoting background through college and since high school, I’ve been throwing parties. So I’ve always had the concept of knowing how to market people and put people in the building. Themost we learned was last year because it scaled from being 500 kids in an abandoned warehouse with no roof into being 2,500 [people] in a big ass warehouse that we had no idea how to put on a festival. We were smart enough to put on a festival and it worked out beautifully.

Justice: It’s funny. I always say if I was to die tomorrow and write my final thoughts on the most difficult thing to do, I’d always say Raurfest 2015 was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. What came from Raurfest is that I really understood what it meant to blind trust just us as a team all the f--king way. There was a lot of ego involved all the time but the reason why I feel so confident in my guys is I know we all have the same end goal, which was to be f--king great. It made us more accomplished. S--t like this doesn’t happen in Atlanta. That’s my city, but we never have the infrastructure or the funds to allocate events that make sense to the city. That’s the reason why I felt so accomplished. We had no money; we made something that was dope out of a f--king dream as cliché as that sounds.

It’s crazy that kids were attracted to it from jump. As it gets bigger, do you two have total control over it?

Sean: I actually learned from [De'Mont] Callender, who is an agent over at AM Only. We were talking about Raurfest one day and he said, ‘The biggest mistake a lot of people make is that they try to grow as fast as they think will grow.’ It’s not always about finding a new venue ‘cause now we can get 5,000 people this year. It’s about making what you have even more perfect. At the end of the day, we’re marketers. We have to be able to have not as much supply as there is demand. We gotta make sure the demand is crazy. So instead of making the festival itself a 5,000-person festival this year, which I’m sure you know we could kill ourselves to try and do, we turned it into a full weekend.

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So break down what’s going on for LVRN Weekend.

Sean: Friday we are doing a private dinner called The 50. We partnered with our homies in New York, ‘92 Dream Team. We invite the 50 most influential or just diverse people that we know. It’ll be everyone from potentially Kasim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta, to a local trap kid or an independent designer to some cool DJs to some officials that work over at Coca-Cola. [We’re] putting the most obscure people in the same room with each other that may have nothing in common, but besides the fact that they want to grow. I think that’s when the most beautiful relationships get made.

I remember meeting random people in a strip club in France and then that ended up being the first time we ever got to go to Australia because of that random person I had a drink with. I just think the smallest connections can lead to the biggest things. Then Saturday at the W Hotel, we are doing two different workshops. We are doing something called Trill Yoga, which is [taught by] our homie Clare [Fountain]. She actually lives in New York but she started Trill Yoga, which is basically yoga for cool people and doing yoga to trap music. Our whole thing is just about breaking the barriers of what people perceive as normal. People didn’t think something like a Raury could exist in Atlanta, but there are a lot of kids that understand why a Raury exists in Atlanta -- you just need the eyeballs to be on it. 

We are doing [our take] on Shark Tank, giving kids the opportunity to take their expertise to the next level. There’s always a blueprint if you want to be a doctor or a lawyer. You go to school. You get this type of grade on your MCAT or whatever the case is. You go do your residency, and six years later, you’re a doctor. When you want to be a photographer, it’s not that easy. When you want to be a designer, it’s not that easy. If you want to be a producer, it’s not that easy. But what we can do is give you the opportunity in real life.

We are getting a panel of five or six judges. Some of them might be venture capitalists; some of them will be music execs. Some of them will be those who own different brands. Some of them will be designers. Some of them will own music studios. Some of them will own photography studios, and each of them will be able to offer a different opportunity. We’ll have kids put together pitches [so they can] be the one to obtain that opportunity, whether it is $10,000 towards an idea that they had or an internship to work at Milk Studios over the summer. That’s just our way of legitimizing creatives.

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Will Raurfest host another charity event?

Justice: This year, we are giving [away] profits as far as ticket sales to Atlanta’s public schools and fine arts programs. If anybody knows, they discontinued their art programs for the public schools in Atlanta. [Editor’s Note: A statement from Atlanta Public Schools in June 2015 says music and arts remains an option for their schools.] I just know how important [music programs are] as an awkward Internet kid these days. I just know taking that away might seem so miniscule. It’s not easy to monetize art so you can make the efforts and say, ‘Alright, cool, I’m just gonna cut the art program’ and not really see what that really does to creatives. They need that. It’s almost like a sense of therapy. We are just a bunch of weird art kids that want to see it keep going. On top of that, we are still giving bins of clothes to the homeless. It’s so necessary. And it might not be a million dollars, but the objective is to show that we care and to bring light to it.

What are your next plans for Raury?

Justice: Like he’s said, he’s a weird kid naturally. He’s naturally being reclusive. He’s not the one in the club being a socialite. In a culture where it is all about that, we find the most excitement in the “hotness” of an artist, which is what I like to call it. How do we put context around [Raury's] life to make sense in this wave of kids going on today and make it effortless? Which is why things like Raurfest is important. He’s quietly making history in the weird way. In the last three months, he’s toured with A$AP Rocky, Macklemore and he’s about to tour with Mumford & Sons. That’s three polar opposites of genres. We have to put more context around his life and what he’s actually doing into it so people can really understand.

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