Interview With Ross From LiveStyles Festival – first published in Downtown/The Evening Echo 2014-5-22

The Livestyles Hip-Hop festival which only started in 2010 has quickly made a name for itself in the national and international Hip-Hop community for not simply focusing on lucrative high price rap acts but instead admirably incorporating all the original principles of Hip-Hop culture, or as it is known “the 4 elements”: equal parts Rapping, Breakdancing, Graffiti and DJing.  

This year’s edition looks will be the final one in this current format, in the build up to it Ross Herlihy spoke with Ronan Leonard and explained how the large scale event grew out of a much smaller intention, “LiveStyles was born shortly after I moved home from New Zealand. Adam O’Connor had just started Flava Floors dance studio and we got talking about running a B-boy battle to help spread interest in the studio; it made sense to run a graffiti jam at the same time; of course then we needed some good gigs at night for our guests; and before we knew it the concept had grown to a full on hip-hop festival!”

Ross and Adam have come to view the limitations of the Irish Hip-Hop scene as a virtue, “being such a niche subculture we had already built strong ties with a lot of the MCs and DJs around Ireland. All the international artists we bring over are always surprised that while the Cork hip-hop scene is relatively small, it’s really strong because of the friendships that exist. We’re always conscious of integrating all the different aspects of hip-hop together during LiveStyles and we find that people really enjoy it as a result. Having a small scene really forced us all together and I think that makes it a lot stronger in many ways.”

After four jam-packed years Ross is reflective about winding up the annual festival, “I’ve got very mixed emotions about this being the final one. LiveStyles is probably the thing I’m most proud of in my life. I’m sad to see the festival end but I’m looking forward to having the time to work on smaller events throughout the year. We were inspired by events from years ago like Prime:Time’s Arcadia skate jams, which had similar lifespans. If anything comes from this I hope it’s that LiveStyles inspires the next generation to run gigs and events!”

Ross laid out LiveStyles’s plans to go out with a bang “as this is the final festival we’ve gone all out. A lot of different acts that have we’ve always wanted have all dropped everything to make sure they can be there this year.”

He went on to list off some of the gigs, “the main event this year is on Saturday in the Camden Palace Hotel. There will be a variety of B-boy battles; we’ve got a 2v2 contest, a last man standing battle and a junior battle; there are crews from Scotland and Barcelona coming over to take part. We will also have some great live music, God Knows & mynameisjOhn are headlining; they are the most energetic live Irish hip-hop act I’ve seen in a long time. You’ll also be able to catch Costello & GI, Devaint & Naive Ted, Trigger, Spekulativ Fiktion and more at the show, and to send LiveStyles off in style JusMe has put together a ‘Cork Rap Cypher’ as well. Around 20 Cork rappers who represent all sides of Cork rap will be performing in it. It’s great to be able to have that many rappers involved this year. And there will also be a BBQ in the car park with a host of top street artists painting and that’ll be in aid of the A-Skate Foundation, which helps get kids with autism to express themselves via skating.”

The Sunday of every LiveStyles festival has always been the more laidback day, and Adam is sure this year will be no different, “we will be having Legendary LiveStyles BBQ in The Hub bar, Anglesea St. The line up for that is insane with acts like Devaint, Mikey Fingers, Monto, Nativizm, JusMe, Itchi, Jimmy Penguin, One Up and more from 5pm. That BBQ is always my favourite event of the weekend because it’s a great chance for everyone to chill together and listen to good music.”

Go to http://www.livestylesfest.com for the full listings and schedule of battles, exhibitions, jams and gigs.

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