TVD Tested & Approved: Los Angeles’ Resident LA

PHOTOS: MATT DRAPER | TVD LA had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Larry Little (co-founder) and Duncan Smith (talent buyer) of Resident LA, our soon to be new favorite venue and watering hole located in the Arts District in downtown LA.

On our first visit we were so impressed with the space and the atmosphere these two gentlemen have created—an incredible outdoor environment which boasts an actual beer garden and their creative music programming—we just had to get the inside track on the methods behind their mad genius.

Downtown LA seems to have had resurgence in live music in the past two years with several newly renovated spaces opening, showcasing both local and national acts. Why now, why this neighborhood?

The city just keeps expanding east in terms of nightlife, mostly because artists generally live where rents are cheaper—and so it’s gone from Echo Park to Highland Park to now hitting places like Boyle Heights. The Arts District has been opening up and adding not only residential units and artist work spaces, but bars, restaurants, and retail by the very nature of the old warehouse spaces that line its streets. It was only a matter of time before people started populating the neighborhood.

Our partners Tim and Bridget have owned and have lived in our building since 2000, and we all just love its inside/outside options and felt it was perfect for a venue and beer garden. We wanted to create a new option for this neighborhood in a 200+ capacity room that allows us to take chances on artists at early stages and support the arts.

The Arts District where Resident LA resides has been in the “up and coming category” for some time. We personally like the character it’s maintained. What’s the most important thing you’re looking to contribute as a neighborhood “resident?”

To truly embrace the “arts” element of the Arts District. The more lofts and businesses coming in is great, but it has historically been filled with artists and we want to make sure there is one place that continues to celebrate them.

You are both music industry veterans who know that experience is key. How did you funnel your knowledge into the creation of this space?

I’ve been managing for almost 18 years and I thought about it from an artist management perspective—what would I like my acts to experience when they get to the venue?

I think Duncan is the kind of talent buyer who always gets back to you, our sound guys are always friendly and helpful, our staff is there to welcome you when you arrive and point the way to the nearest coffee shop before sound check…you know, the little things that make life on the road not so horrible. We want to make a mark on the acts that come through our building and hopefully they’ll want to play Resident again and again and tell their friend’s band.

We have read that you intend to make the space an area that can accommodate anyone at any hour of the day with wifi, coffee, food trucks, the indoor and outdoor space, great cocktails etc…this sounds dangerous, but fantastic. Can walk us through what an ideal day to night experience would look like for your patrons?

A great example is what we’re in the process of building around a monthly party called “Juke Joint” that will be on the last Sunday of each month. We’re taking this party from places in South Central Los Angeles and bringing it to our place and trying to create an environment where you feel like you are extending your weekend.

Once this El Nino weather moves past us we’d like to start the Sunday off with a pop up record store in the beer garden accompanied by a food truck with BBQ and soul food where patrons can select vinyl from the pop up shop and be the DJ for a few songs.

We are also looking to bring amazing musicians in from some churches in Watts and have the middle of the day become a gospel throw down that leads into the evening of the Juke Joint where all hell breaks loose and these legendary blues and R&B artists take over—pairing food trucks that match the musical theme and providing people with multiple experiences throughout the course of a Sunday to come down and be a part of.

We have seen the cocktail menu which seems very sophisticated for a music venue. Do you consider Resident a bar or a performance space, or in a category all its own—and if so what is that category?

Resident is a clubhouse. We are a bar, a venue, a beer garden, and really just a hang out. We are attempting to curate not just the music program, but an amazing drinks program and also the food trucks and hopefully surprise everyone more than once as we keep challenging ourselves to make the clubhouse even more fun.

Dreaming up Resident was purely selfish, in that we wanted to bring together all the things we love in one place—live music and social drinking with friends, so we built a playpen.

What should our readers be looking out for in terms of programming over the next few months? What are you the most excited about?

They’re all our babies, so I’m MOST excited about the range of music we’re presenting: genre pushing electronic, psych, soul, hip hop, indie, punk, and more are all on the calendar. But the LA Art Book Fair Afterparty is a particular event that exemplifies that magic that we hope to inspire, blending artistic freedom and fun.

We’ve got an international lineup of artists at the avant garde of underground dance, electronic, RnB, etc. and the party will also feature dazzling art installations, food, and surprises. Moreover, it’s all a benefit to support Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair at MOCA, which is an incredible free event nourishing our city’s art and design scene and taking place right in the Arts District community. It’s going to be a very, very serious party.

Everyone loves a list and we are a site dedicated to the love, appreciation, and preservation of vinyl. Please indulge us with what you top 5 most prized wax possessions are?

Swamp Dogg – Rat On!, Trojan Dub Box Set, Larry Levan – Live at the Paradise Garage (triple vinyl set), Pavement – “Perfect Sound Forever” 10”, The Strokes – Is This It (original pressing).

Should we expect any DJ vinyl sessions in Resident’s future?

Yes, we already have had many nights with DJ’s spinning vinyl, and have every intention of having this often…

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