Talking about music, concert promotion and Indy's hotspots with Josh Baker of MOKB Presents, the HI-FI and Do317
No Bad Ideas is a design-driven brand known for bringing mad creativity to the headwear space. Our team of Indy originals seeks to inspire and assist other innovators in our hometown. Following in line with our previous collaborations (Sun King Brewery, for example), we’re thrilled to announce our latest:
|MOKB Presents is one of the largest independent concert promoters in Indianapolis. We produce events a wide-range of venues including The Vogue, The HI-FI, Old National Centre, White Rabbit Cabaret, Sun King Brewery, and many more. This year they will produce over 300 events in Indianapolis and Bloomington.|
|The HI-FI is a 195 capacity concert venue located in the Murphy Art Center in Fountain Square. It host concerts, special events, and the Do317/MOKB Session Series.|
|Looking for more to do? Every day, Do317 answers the question “What are we going to do tonight?” for people around Indy. They also have a network of bloggers, local media and socialites to help rank events and make recommendations.|
Combined, MOKB and the HI-FI have brought tons of top artists to Indy including:
Alabama Shakes, The Lumineers, Walk The Moon, Sufjan Stevens, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, The National, Band of Horses, Dr. Dog, St. Vincent, Family of The Year, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Florence & The Machine, The Avett Brothers, Dawes, The Civil Wars, Milo Greene, The English Beat, J. Roddy Walston, Houndmouth, Sea Wolf, Pokey LaFarge, The Devil Makes Three, Ra Ra Riot, Stephen Malkmus, The Hood Internet, Brown Bird, Blitzen Trapper, Tokyo Police Club, Neon Indian, Generationals, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr, John Fullbright, The Wood Brothers, Murs, Arcade Fire, Young The Giant, Sturgill Simpson, Langhorne Slim, The Wood Brothers, Whitey Morgan, Free Energy, Nikki Lane, Kristen Hersh, And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Willie Watson, Wild Cub, Reignwolf, Johnny Fritz, and on and on and on...
While working through design and development of the new hats, we had a chance to catch up with the leader of this entertainment empire, Josh Baker.
Q: How did you get into the promotion game?
I’ve always had a love and passion for music and great songwriters. I wasn’t blessed with any musical talent so helping support others, in a variety of ways, always allowed me to be close to what I loved. I’ve spent some time working and running an indie label, as an artist manager, radio station, sales, record stores, etc. Promoting live shows has always been the common thread. I’ve made a lot of mistakes (a lot of them) which ultimately led to helping me build these companies we have now.
Q: You could say that your entertainment empire (HI-FI, MOKB Presents, Do317) has become Indy’s premier tastemaker. What do you look for when scouting creative talent?
We don’t think of it as an empire, more of a creative hub for collaboration. We all have pretty diverse tastes in music so there’s not really one type of music we focus on. In terms of talent, I always look for great songwriters--it's something that transcends genres. Good songs are the backbone of this business.
Additionally, we evaluate a band's history in our market and similar markets, team (manager, agent, support network), and online presence. Ultimately we are looking for great bands that we can support early on and grow with as their careers take off.
Q: I’m sure running these companies requires you to constantly switch roles. Is there a difference in the way you approach those gigs creatively?
That is the magic question. It’s a constant push and pull. Trying to run three companies and be a good father (I have two amazing boys) can be challenging. Those that know me will tell you that I have a problem delegating. It’s true. At least it used to be. Over the last few years we’ve really focused on building out our team with individuals who share the same passion and creativity. I’ve taken a more strategic role but am still highly involved in the daily operations of all of our companies.
Q: Name a couple of your favorite spots in Indy—what is blowing up right now and what is one place people are sleeping on?
There’s no secret that Fountain Square is the place to be right now. There’s so much great music and food, it’s tough to only mention a few. Tappers Arcade Bar is the talk of the town right now. Luckily, I live above the new spot, so jumping down for a quick game of NBA Jam and a pint has turned into a blessing and a curse.
For food I’ve been digging on Pioneer, lately. My go to spot for lunch is Iozzo’s. Milktooth and Yolk are my breakfast jams. I’ve been hearing great things about FoxGardin up in Fortville but have yet to make it up there.
Circle City Industrial Complex has been attracting some new businesses and a lot of makers. It’s probably the next “spot to be” on the creative side. Garfield Park would be in that conversation too. Lots of good stuff going on down there and full expect it to be in full swing in the next couple of years.
Q: You host and promote a variety of music styles. Do you have a favorite genre?
I really like all kinds of music. Like I mentioned earlier, great songs really attract me--no matter the type of music. I go in phases: indie rock, old school hip hop, vintage country, metal, folks, etc.
Q: What are you listening to right now? What’s playing in the car?
In the car I am usually tuned into Sirius/XM Alt Nation, XMU, or Backspin. I listen to new music when I am in the office. Right now I am listening to Strumbellas, Ryan Bingham, Sturgill Simpson, Craig Mack, Margo Price, Frightened Rabbit, The Thermals, Band of Horses, Merle Haggard, Black Honey.
Q: How would you describe your personal fashion?
I bet there are people in our office who are dying to answer this question right now. Challenged? Can we go with that? I dunno I am usually pretty casual jeans and a t-shirt kinda guy. I’ll clean up when I have to but “stylish” is not something you’d hear in a sentence when describing me.
We concluded the interview by exploring Josh's hat game. "Definitely Flexfit," he says while "the Symphony" is where he would rock a fedora.