Let’s Go Back: Nostalgic, Y2K Party Features Three Rising Stars

photography by Jacob Moran

The late ’90s/early ’00s are back in vogue and to celebrate, PATTERN is partnering with John Stamps to host a Y2K inspired dance party – Nostalgic – to brighten up January’s dreary vibe. Accompanied by partners in crime, KNags, and DJ Little Town, the event will be be nostalgia-inducing for some, and a revelation to others. Be sure to dress up! If you need style inspo, check out late 90s, early 00s, Britney Spears & Christina Aguilera (Whatever happened to her??!), Avril Lavigne, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Ritchie, Christina Milan, and let’s not forget Paris Hilton!

The party and the fashions will be a blast, but the best part of it for me is seeing Fountain Square golden era “kids” Kevin Hofmeister (John Stamps), Kyle Nagy (KNags) and Jessica Hemesath (DJ Little Town) coming into their own with successful careers that are a testament to the years of hard work they’ve invested in their art.

I chatted with the trio about what they’ve learned since getting in the music game, the successes of 2021, their plans for 2022, and the evolution of their fashion tastes. Wanna come to the party? Grab your ticket today! See you on the 15th! Follow the party feed @nostalgicy2kparty!

Photography by Jacob Moran; Retouched by Kyle Nagy; Style by Kevin Hofmeister, Jane Kim and Aaron Marshall; Shot on location at Naptown Thirft; Cover design by Lindsay Hadley

Polina Osherov: Tell me the backstory of how you guys all met and got into music.

Kyle Nagy: Kevin and I heard of each other, coincidentally enough, in the early 2000s when we were both in high school and starting to make music on our own. I was messing around making beats. Kevin was starting to do hip hop and rap, but we didn’t know each other, and so we each had our own separate little rap groups. He went to Cathedral and I went to Lawrence Central. There were only so many rap groups in Indianapolis at the time, so we ended up having a serious beef with each other. I was slightly frightened of Kevin to be honest…

PO: Did he threaten you? 

KN: No threats, but there were diss tracks involved actually. (laughter) And it was just tension from there, but a couple of years later, a mutual friend, Alex Collignon, was like, “Hey, Kyle’s a pretty good producer.” “Kevin’s a pretty good rapper. You guys should actually link up.” We just clicked right away. This was 15 years ago now.

Jessica Hemesath: I have a big sister who put me on when she started working at a record store when I was 12. I started off wanting turntables to play the records and from there the instrumentation / turntablism blossomed. I met Kyle and Kevin through Ghost Gun Summer back in 2013. I grew up on the South Side, and my friend DJ Crookshanks did a song with Grey Granite, so that’s how I first heard about them. From there I met Freddie Bunz and actually the first time I ever DJ’d for a rapper was at Taps n Dolls in 2013 for one of his shows. I was 21 years old. I remember I didn’t even have the right cases for my turntables back then and we had to carry my shit in a big obnoxious “coffin” across South Meridian street. This was also back when Serato wasn’t built into DJ mixers yet, so I had the SL1 box – for you DJ nerds out there! Ya’ll probably know me for DJing drag shows, but literally all experience I have in DJing comes from DJing for rappers. 

Kevin Hofmeister: As Jess started DJing, she DJ’d for sets for me, and also her own sets on shows that we were on together. We’ve been running around for a really long time and it’s really cool to be able to still come together and get to do stuff like Nostalgic. 

PO: What’s it like coming up? 

KH: It’s exciting to see other people from the scene also reaching the same level of professional maturity as us. It’s inspiring to be around people who are not gonna let this window of opportunity close and turn into that next group of 30-somethings wishing that they’d given it a fucking shot. 

JH: Time and consistency really matter. I’ve been able to play music for people for a while now and I’ve learned a lot. And the crazy thing is there’s still so much to learn and improve on, but it never gets old for me which is how it should be when you love the work. It feels great to be passionate about something and to be able to say: I’m good at this and I never want to stop doing it. For me it’s not really about the money, it’s about my life and what I want to be able to do with it.

KN: The three of us have each kind of been weaving in and out of this creative music lane, figuring it out in our own ways. For us, to all still be at it, at this level, this long into it, I think says a lot about how seriously we take it. Part of the success is definitely aligning with the right people.

PO: You guys started out just being cool kids that did cool shit, but now it’s clear that you’re serious entrepreneurs and working hard to build profitable businesses. Talk about that.

KH: It’s definitely not just about spinning records somewhere anymore. We’re creating full experiences and events worth talking about. I wish we were capable of all this in our early twenties, but here we are at 29 finally getting it together.

My biggest advice to anyone in this industry is: You need to be putting as much time into the business side as you do into the music or the DJ-ing. There’s so much emphasis put on the artistry, when in reality, it’s not even half of it, unfortunately. I made myself a full-time career DJ in a year’s time, and that’s not because I was practicing DJ-ing ten hours every day. It took me busting my ass, and hustling to get myself into some rooms that I probably had no business getting into. And then building on those experiences to go onto the next thing and the next…

PO: It’s a lot of damn work.

KH: Yeah. But it’s fun and it never feels like work to us.

PO: Where’s “the” scene in Indy right now? I remember 2012-2015 as being particularly dynamic culturally, not just in Fountain Square, but all over, but then after 2016, I’ve had the sense that things have been a bit stagnant. Maybe it’s just me.

KN: Yeah, I agree. I think there was definitely an unmatched energy back in those years that you were talking about, specifically in Fountain Square, I mean downtown as well, but those years in Fountain Square were gold, and it’s definitely been a downhill slope. There are pockets of that energy that still exist, but it’s just much harder to find now.

JH: The AlleyCat in Broad Ripple! (laughter) I’m kidding. I don’t really know where the scene is for people in their late teens, early 20s because I’m not part of that age group anymore. I guess what I think makes a “scene” is a mix of a popularity contest, fashion, music/art/taste consensus, lust, and recklessness… and I’ve outgrown a lot of that. I’m 29 years old, and I no longer feel ownership or responsibility for a scene because of my age. Did we even know we had it back then? Probably not. 

 

KH: The scene is definitely not tied to a specific neighborhood. Club Plex is the perfect example of that. They don’t even want you to know where it’s going to be. You literally have to get emailed the address. I see this lack of neighborhood connection as a growing trend actually, and that’s why it’s so important to have a brand and a name that people are willing to follow, rather than a specific location. And that’s essentially what I’m trying to do with Nostalgic and all of my parties, but on a national level.

PO: It takes a high level of dedication and commitment, over many years to succeed in this industry. I hope I’m not being unjustly negative or controversial for saying this, but I feel like us creatives are living this dual reality that is the Indianapolis creative ecosystem. On the one hand, living and working here as an artist confers benefits like low barrier to entry and affordable cost of living, and a really kick-ass if small, community of like-minded people, and on the other, the continuing, and seemingly irreparable lack of resources, a shortage of meaningful professional opportunities, and patrons who generally don’t want to spend money on local art/music/design/photography are consistently holding our creative industries back, ensuring that even if a person makes the choice to LIVE here, their audience, the one that’s going to help them pay their bills, does not live in THIS city. What say ye?

KH: That’s a super loaded, complicated question. For me, I’ve always understood that your hometown people need to see you go somewhere else and do well before they truly believe in your worth as an artist. Not everyone, mind you, – Oreo didn’t have to do that – but the majority, yes. It’s like your ex-girlfriend seeing you with somebody new and having FOMO. 

You can definitely create and live here, but there’s no question that there are way more opportunities creatively and professionally in other places. That’s why I relocated to Nashville. It’s more expensive, sure, but also you’re not paying high rent because your house is fancy. You’re paying high rent so that when you go to the bar down the street, you might run into Orville Peck, and start up a convo with him, and get invited to shit where you make all of these other connections. That doesn’t really happen in Indy. 

KN: I’ve always been more in the background, and Kevin’s been the face of the brand which has worked really well for us. So right now, we have the best of both worlds. I don’t need to be in Nashville, but he does. I like being in Indy doing a bunch of behind the scenes work, he’s out there hustling. We talk every day, and it’s business as usual. 

KH: Personally, I want to be constantly surrounded by like-minded people who are here to do something, I need that motivation from my peers to be my best, but I also know that that there are other people who I think are able to do so well in Indianapolis because they can find that drive within, or their circle is motivated enough that it keeps them on track. 

JH: It’s unfortunate that people with money in this city seem to be so boring and predictable with it. But what do I know I guess? I’m not in their shoes. I just know there’s pushback from establishment owners a lot in this city who are disconnected from art and really like to play it safe and commercial with their investments. To this I say: Everything is cultural. Deciding to be safe and bland is still making a stance, it’s just not incredibly diverse – culturally. I think Indianapolis likes to watch other cities do it first, then follow. 

PO: Jess, what’s one way that artists can fight against this blandness?

I think as an artist you should seek legitimacy. Anything you can do to make yourself respected and taken seriously. But 100% be yourself. Challenge the expectation of you when you’re granted space someplace. Because it’s a push and pull, not an assimilation. You deserve to be there and people WILL recognize you. And this is the most important thing you can do to really push your art…get it in that respected space and don’t modify it. Don’t agree to the notion that to make money, your art has to be watered down. Sure, you might not get invited back, but it’ll only be because you didn’t spoon feed everyone. Pushing the culture is important. We have to keep fighting for our right to exist and giving up is not the answer. And people can’t argue with talent and originality… even if it’s a new concept to them.

PO: In 2021, what was your biggest success? 

JH: I graduated college during a pandemic! It sucked because there wasn’t an in-person graduation ceremony, but I had a really awesome capstone project creating a brand identity for male birth control of all things. I also blew up a little with DJing with venues reopening and I’m super proud of keeping that up. I think I really proved myself with my work.

KH: I don’t remember if I quit drinking in 2021, but that would be a big personal success. Becoming a full-time musician is another. That’s been my goal since I started making music. Also, my willingness to pivot and just do whatever it takes creatively. I used to think I had to be a musician, but the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve embraced that I just wanna be creative for a living, and not be any more picky about it than that. There are definitely things that I enjoy doing more than other things, but whether it’s creative direction, helping style the wardrobe, organizing a photoshoot, or promoting an event or DJing, I just wanna do something creative to make a living. And I am.

KN: Being alongside my best friend doing these creative things for a living is definitely the highlight of 2021. I’m doing DJing and music, but I’m equally, if not more so, ecstatic about art and design – being able to meld music and art – that has been the best.

PO: What’s 2022 looking like for you guys? 

KH: The goal is for us to pay our bills with our events  (Nostalgic, and Boot Scoot), and being able to do them all over the country. And also having the time to work on our music, and on other DJ nights. We’re already so ahead of schedule of anything that I planned on. Every milestone with this shit has been too good to be true, and it’s because we haven’t taken our foot off the gas. As long as we keep working as hard as we’ve been working and keep scaling up the way we’ve been scaling up and having the right opportunities come along as we keep scaling up, it’s just a matter of time and continuing to trust the process. We’re finally getting to that point where the 10-15 years of working for literally no money is starting to pay off, and I’m just so grateful that we’ve stuck with it long enough to get there.

JH: I’m going into 2022 with an outlook that’s about consistency, respect, and mindfulness. Nobody can save you but yourself (and God, respectfully), so as corny as it sounds I’m really looking forward to moving through every day with an improving mindset. I went kind of crazy last summer and traveled a lot and had as much fun as possible. I hope I get to do that again this year and what’s gonna make it even better is practicing mindfulness. I want to make sure I’m doing right for myself and the people around me. I’m also looking forward to my newest pursuit in the world of music – production. I’ve been taking classes at Deckademics and have really enjoyed being over at the school more regularly. I absolutely love nerding out with music finatics and learning new things. 

PO: Tell us about your personal style. All three of you have a distinct look. 

KH: It’s been a process. I went to a private school and I had to wear khakis and a polo to school every day for twelve fucking years. I used to dress like shit. (laughter) There’s photos of me at shows in Target t-shirts and cargo shorts and Osiris skate shoes and flat bill hats.

KN: And Buzz Lightyear backpacks.

KH: My younger brother moved across the street from me and he just dressed really well. I started hanging out with him and his friends, and realized, “Man, I need to stop dressing like an asshole.” I also had an ex who was really into fashion and had her own vintage marketplace, so I really got interested in thrifting. I’ve always loved being able to just express myself and tell people who I am without even having to say a single word. Love ’70s, ’80s, throwback, vintage, unique, organic pieces. I like blending. I want it to be practical and comfortable, but I also want to look good. I don’t believe in doing anything outside of the house in a dressed down outfit. Even if you’re gonna wear sweats and a t-shirt, you can still find a way to make that look really good. There’s no excuse to leave your house looking like shit.

KN: Well, I still borderline dress like shit…(laughter)

PO: Does Kevin ever pull you aside and say, “What were you thinking”? 

KN: He has over the years, definitely…(laughter)

KN: Best way to describe my style is “comfortable”. Kevin was saying that there’s a right way to make sweats look decent, and that’s pretty much what I go by. I live down the street from Naptown Thrift, so I’ve been getting a little bit more into clothing myself, especially for events like Boot Scoot and Nostalgic. I’ve enjoyed having an excuse to get out of my style comfort zone a bit. 

JH: Right now my style is actually the most simplified and intentional it’s ever been in my entire life. I wear a leather jacket that I’ve had for years, black denim jeans, a fuzzy pink beret or a leopard print hat often. It’s 80s/90s flair for sure, but also feminine functionality. I wear a lot of black and tan also, I just find those colors classy and easy to wear interchangeably. Things that never change: hoop earrings and you’ll never see me in heels. 

PO: What should people do to get ready for the Nostalgic party? Where to shop? What to wear?

KH: Like Kyle said, this is an excuse to try something new. 2000’s fashion is back in, so you can wear an outfit to Nostalgic and then pop out afterwards, and it doesn’t look like you just left a clown party.

KN: Don’t overthink it and have fun with it. 

KH: Get together with a couple of your friends, and go hit Naptown Thrift or a vintage store or just dig through your closet and get ready together like it’s high school, and throw some old music on, put some outfits together. That’s part of the experience. Getting ready is part of the fun!

JH: You can find a lot of late 90’s, early 00’s clothing thrifting. I second going to Naptown Thrift to shop. Definitely listen to Britney Spears, or any musical guest featured on the NickelodeonTV show ALL THAT while you get ready too.

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