Nestled into an unassuming space on Marietta Street in Atlanta’s emerging Westside neighborhood is a first of its kind creative hub. Designed by Studio 7 and former SCAD student Summer Walker, the offices are home to LVRN, a bustling creative agency, studio, and record label who recently announced a partnership with Interscope Records. Short for “LoveRenaissance,” LVRN was founded in 2012 by rival party promoters Justice Baiden, Sean Famoso McNichol, Junia Abaidoo, Carlon Ramong, and Tunde Balogun, who first made their mark by teaming up with then 15-year-old Tucker High School student Raury. Today, the agency, who also counts budding superstars D.R.A.M. and 6LACK among their clients, specializes in talent management, creative direction and production, as well as marketing and strategic partnerships.
For a city sorely lacking in industry infrastructure, the development of LVRN is a much needed and long-awaited venture. While Atlanta continues to enjoy its status as the hip-hop mecca, dominating the charts and setting international trends, artists remain compelled to look towards cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville when seeking management, publicists, or label representation. Compounding the issue is the accompanying absence of a major media presence, which forces breaking bands and musicians to turn elsewhere for coverage and exposure.
As one of the five founders of LVRN, Justice Baiden, 26, is looking to reverse these trends and help create a world-class creative hub and support system in Atlanta. On a day-to-day basis, his responsibilities vary from organizing tours, securing riders, arranging transport, and booking lodging for his clients. To Baiden, LVRN is like an infant — still growing into itself, but he and his colleagues understand that the creative entity the agency is and the monolith it’s seeking to become both demand to be handled with care. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with the budding entrepreneur about developing LVRN, their new offices, and what we can expect from the agency in the future.
When you founded LVRN, did you envision a studio?
It was one of our goals but almost didn’t feel realistic. For a man to have property, it’s a huge move. Anytime I would visit other labels in LA or New York, they used to have these cool hubs. It was like a breeding ground where creatives can come together that fit into the aesthetic of what the ideas are. For sure, I knew it was the goal. I didn’t know when it was going to happen, [but] I knew it would, just like everything. I think it’s awesome. I think it’s a dream come true. Just looking to do more.
When LVRN opened this space, what was the thinking behind recruiting Studio 7 and Summer Walker?
Honestly, to be biased, when we picked Studio 7, they reminded us of us. Two girls doing it themselves. I just want to work with people that are young and really doing it and meaning it. I think that’s more important than hiring some 50-year-old. For me, it’s all about the story. That’s a part of the journey. I mean, Summer. Summer came through! Studio 7 was like the alley-oop. Summer came through and dunked that bitch. She had amazing ideas. We could have hired anybody but the amount of care that Summer has — it’s almost like her own money is in it. That’s invaluable. You can’t replace that. We had to work with her.
What’s good with the location?
It’s central, but it’s not too central. This whole Westside is a budding side of Atlanta. I just wanted to be here. I love it. I think there’s a lot of potential. The location is just prime. I couldn’t make that up.
LVRN is also LVRN Records now. What comes first — LVRN Records or LVRN Studios?
It paints a picture that sounds outdated a bit. Obviously, this is our office, per se. But the whole thing is a workspace. It’s a creative space. That’s how we wanted to feel. One whole side is the workspace side, then there’s the studio side. Records is really something you just slap on it, but it’s not going to change the vibe.
Would you like to open more offices?
We’d like to keep it in Atlanta. I want to get a rooftop so hopefully next summer we’ll get that popping. I think for me, it’s making the space as amazing as possible. Being even more detailed. Now with the art on the wall, fancy-schmancy stuff.
What’s the approach you took towards the artistry and the vibe throughout the studio?
“Beautiful.” I think that was the tagline. Like, can we just have something that feels like home? We wanted an environment that made people never want to leave. The fridge is always full. The couches are comfortable.
Have there been any unexpected guests in LVRN studios?
Khalid came through here last night. That was cool. Jared Leto was here yesterday. He was playing music for some radio people.
If you could invite any artist to LVRN Studios, who would it be?
Probably Frank [Ocean].
What’s next for LVRN Studios?
I was having a conversation with Noah Callahan from Complex and I told him he should come to the A and check out the space. I definitely want to open it up. I definitely want a couple more studios. A sick pool — everybody likes water. Possibilities are endless. I don’t know where it would go. Why have a great space when nobody can see it? We only want people in here that we know are respectful to the space and respectful to the environment. Honestly, selfishly, I’ve been blessed with Summer where I don’t have to worry about the studio. She handles the bills, the actual upkeep of it. We have some great interns we did a serious vetting process for. I come here half the time like a guest every time, confused. I want to sign more artists, put out more music.
What’s some advice you would give to somebody thinking about opening their own studio?
Just do it. What’s going to happen? What’s the worst that can happen?
Has there been a classic made in LVRN studios?
Not yet. Too new. But people are recording new music in here every day.
What are the surrounding tenants like and how has the neighborhood received you?
I don’t know. I haven’t reached out. They’ll figure it out.