Interview by Thomas Agnew (@Thomas_JENESIS)
It takes a lot of effort to build a business, market a business correctly, and create a positive outlook and gain professional acceptance in the industry of music and event planning. Jordian Ross has done that and more with AnimalXHouse which started in Columbus and now the name rings bells in not only the Midwest but in the other regions with the individuals they’ve worked with. Here in our interview we have him break down his focus with the brand and how AnimalXHouse been able to help individuals in their career paths reach out and gain the respect of others for their crafts.
What makes your events different than those that you may find in the Columbus area?
I wouldn’t really say our events are necessarily different, I just think we take a different approach then most of the promoters and event planners in our market. I think it all starts with our passion for music and then our desire to be taken seriously as a brand VS just another promotion group booking an artist for a show. When we do shows, we’re usually breaking an artist to a market that might not necessarily be in tune with what’s going on outside of your mainstream or 106 & Park top ten countdown artist. We kind of help push the other side of that forward, where now our local blogs and influencers have a little more impact on people’s ears than before. We’re helping a growing culture so it’s pretty cool to get some recognition for contributing to that.
What was the driving force that made you say “we need to change the way that events in the Columbus hip-hop music culture happen.”
After graduating from undergrad, I came home and got loosely involved with the hip hop scene that was surfacing around high street. I used to hang down at sole classics and milk bar where a couple of our local rappers would hang. There was a group at the time by the name of “Milk N Syrup” who were curating a really dope blog and used to feature music from 3 of who I consider our most talented artists; Le For The Uncool (now King Vada), P. Blackk, and Fabrashay A. Between them and Fly Union who were doing their thing at the time too, the scene really excited me. There was an event Le was throwing where he’d invite out of town Dj’s to our city to spin alongside some of our hometown homies. I was able to witness firsthand what it was doing to the culture in Columbus, and at the same time connect with people who had far more experience in this “music game” than the majority of folks around us. It was definitely an inspiration…. But to finally answer the question of why we needed to change events in the Columbus hip hop music scene; I saw dope talent with no platform. There were concerts at small bars with maybe 200 people and no influential writers or media there to help our artists gain exposure. The radio at the time wasn’t doing anything to help local talent, and I believed our talent was just as good if not better than some of the artists coming out of these more mature markets. I wanted to help bring that excitement to our city so that one day our artists could have at the very least a performance platform that people care about, wrote about and talked about.
What were you able to learn in your time in Chicago that helped you develop successes with your events in Columbus, Cleveland, and eventually outside of the Ohio region?
Being in the Chi taught me a lot man. The combination of being in school and living in a city that thrives on a ton of art and entertainment provided some really cool experiences. Like I’d be in class learning about sponsorships and then a week later I’d be able to hit up Lollapalooza and dissect these super huge sponsorship activations, and really get a firsthand look at some of the stuff we we’re studying. Outside of that, it was really cool meeting a lot of the city’s young entrepreneurs who are out here living it and sacrificing “security” to pursue their dreams. That energy is hella inspiring.
When it comes to working in the Midwest region, do you want AXH to be the brand people come to for events, concerts, etc?
Yeah I guess you can say that… We’ve built relationships with a gang of brands in the Midwest who consistently back our events and support what we’re doing for the culture throughout the region. The same goes with the artists and DJ’s out here, it’s always been our mission to put on and help put on. We’ve been working a lot with street wear brands and boutiques for the last year or so, but what I’ve been on lately is connecting with these corporate marketing managers and building relationships around their field marketing goals. My goal this year is sponsorships. I’d want these brands to contact us and be like “yo we need help capturing ‘this’ part of ‘this’ market and we want you guys to help us do it through an event or concert.” That would be ideal. As for now, I’m just happy to be a part of this crazy Midwest movement and more specifically thee Ohio movement that’s happening.
You recently had a big showcase at SXSW with some well-known upcoming names in the industry. How’d you get involved with going to Austin and what do you look forward to doing next year to create a bigger experience?
Well…this is actually our second year doing AnimalXHouse Live at south by. The first year came about after we threw our “Generation X” concert. The show featured Chance The Rapper, Caleb James, Two-9, Tezo, Lorine Chia, Alex Wiley, Kembe X, Freaky Franz, CJ Townsend Chris Mars B, & DJ OSH KOSH. Just to put it out there this line up was crazy. But yeah, the lineup itself caught a ton of eyes and the relationships built through the different artists and managers ended up opening that SXSW door. My homie Fam who works with NVRCH and Elevator hit me up like a day after the promo video dropped and just showed mad love in regards to the talent we booked. About 2 weeks before SXSW that year he called me up and said a guy in Austin had contacted him because a promotional group had pulled out and that he caught wave of that Generation X show and thought we’d be a good look down in Austin. Within two weeks we contacted every plug we had, solidified a partnership with Live Mixtapes, booked over 40 artists and DJ’s and made it happen!
In regards to next year; without giving away any of our plans just know I plan on making use of all the lessons I learned this year. One thing I will say though is that next year I’m going to make sure it’s a family affair. There’s a ton of artists and groups that I’ve been building with over the course of our 3 year existence that we’re left off the bill this year so making sure we don’t do that again is a top priority. Next year’s going to be one to remember though; bigger production, bigger art, bigger everything.
What artist have you worked with or want to work with would represent the AnimalXHouse brand the best and why?
I can’t really say I’d have any artist represent our brand as of now. When that time comes it’ll probably start with DJ’s VS artists. There are a lot of groups and rappers out there though who I think kinda represent that energy we aim to showcase on our stages. I like a lot of the younger groups and younger artists. I think the music they’re making is a lot more relevant than a lot of the stuff our “favorite” rappers are putting out.
What are your future plans and new developments you’re looking into for AnimalXHouse?
Build build build….& build some more. The number one thing hold us back from accomplishing some of our next level goals right now is a solid team. This next quarter is all about solidifying those key roles and acquiring strong & experienced talent. From there the skies the limit… more shows, tours, festivals, block parties, etc. I want to keep putting out mixtapes and eventually start dropping original projects. Look out for our website which is dropping this spring. It’s going to serve as a home for all of that. Our 3 year is approaching too, so expect something real dope for that.
The new AnimalXHouse website will be relaunching this Spring at: http://www.animalxhouse.com