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Connecting The Dots with Jhordan Gibbs

Updated: Sep 6

Level Up Atlanta returns with another installment of Connecting The Dots. The event focuses on pushing education within the creative community of Atlanta through storytelling.

This past edition featured Jhordan Gibbs, co-founder of Milk and Cookies Fest and Talent Relations Manager for the Atlanta Hawks. The conversation was moderated by Media Personality and Content Creator Sammy Approved.

Photo by Dalena Nguyen

The event began as a social mixer in which guests enjoyed meaningful networking, live music by Dj Unruely, and an open bar featuring the crow favorite the "Peach Level Up".

The second half of the event included a live conversation with Gibbs and Sammy that touched on working with the Atlanta Hawks, what it's like producing a festival and shows in Atlanta, and much more. The live conversation was concluded with a Q&A open to the audience.

See below for highlights from the best moments from the conversation:

What do you see missing from the culture here in Atlanta and how do you dive into that?

Jhordan: I think there’s an underlying current, it's not just R&B, but it's like R&B with a little more energy to it, and I think that’s what we’re tapping into now. We started doing shows in 2009 and have seen a lot, but when we did a show with SZA, our very first in that market, at Center Stage we sold out.

Even the agents were like “yo, how did you do this”? And we saw, there is like a whole [different] culture that is not being tapped in to. And so I think what we’re doing is kind of like marking the edge, and I feel like LVRN, they’re doing things on a similar thought wave and so I think we should start pushing that wave more.

"The key to networking is when you go out somewhere have a purpose, don't just go out to get lit."

Speaking of connecting people… Networking, a huge thing. Seems like something you have mastered already. Tell us how you would define networking.

Jhordan: You have to know what you want to do first. You can be in a room and not meet anybody, and then you just wasted a smooth hour that you can’t get back. When I met Alina Baraz, I wanted to book her for a show, but we just couldn’t get a date. She was at Terminal West and the show sold out in minutes.

I didn’t have tickets, but I knew the production guy, so he talked to the owner and hooked us up with some tickets. I took my friend, we went to the show, and I’m just like watching and like I watch to see like who’s doing stuff. Some people are just at the bar drinking. Some people are talking with their friends and enjoying themselves. There's also always people, if you look closely, that are moving in certain ways. I look to try to connect with those people.

Photo by Dalena Nguyen

So I met the tour photographer for Alina. I had my phone, and I was like yo, this is what we do, but he was [busy]. So I stayed until after the show, and he was still taking pictures and catching like b-roll, so that’s why I posted. So we connected, then I sent him a recap from the 2016 show and he was like “this is awesome,” and he connected me with her manager.

I sent him the video around like this time last year. He said it was dope and whatnot, but that was kind of it. Fast forward, we’re booking our talent [for the 2018 show] and getting close to the deadline to lock someone in. Someone brought her name up and at the time she just dropped a single with Khalid. So I just texted him [her manager] on a whim, and he was interested and we just went from there.

But all that started because I was trying to get to that show and get connected. So to me, the key to networking is when you go out somewhere have a purpose, and not just to get lit.

Photo by Dalena Nguyen

Let’s talk about you working with the Atlanta Hawks as the talent relations manager. I’ve seen on your Instagram that they’re introducing some live concert activations and what’s your role with this?

Jhordan: So they want to get more into content series. They rate booking on a type of artist, but one of the things I’m working on is how to connect everyone with the actual community and culture of Atlanta. So that marketing idea was already bubbling, so when I got there, it was just time to make it turn into real life.

After interviewing, I had so many ideas and I went and typed them all up from campaigns and things that could be implemented, and after editing it, I passed it over to my future boss and one of those ideas was a similar concert series. Fast forward to when I came on board, the concert series just needed tweaking to fit some specific needs and I just came on and began to help.

"There's like an underlying current, R&B with a little more energy, I think that's what we're tapping into now."

So like for those that don’t know what Milk and Cookies is, can you tell us like how it came about?

Jhordan: Yeah so, prior to Milk and Cookies, we had a company called Lang Division, and the first show we did was with Wale in 2009. We went with Wale because a lot of our friends were listening to his music but some of the artists who were on the radio at the time weren’t touring through Atlanta like that.

We wanted to kind of create a show that our friends liked with people that we knew listened to their music religiously. That first show was at The Loft and B.o.B. opened up. It was like my first time being behind stage and seeing people with their camera phones out and super excited for this moment.

Photo by Dalena Nguyen

From that, we went through several venues: Masquerade, Center Stage, etc. We were at a block party that used to tour through Masquerade, and it was this super EDM festival. It was Greg who had the idea. We could take this whole energy and make it more eclectic.

We wanted to have this thing where people could come out and be themselves. We wanted to create good vibes and have a good time. We wanted to create an experience that had the same kind of energy, but more so with music that our friends are into.

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