Friday, July 19, 2013

Interview with Lauren McClusky Founder of Nelarusky

Nelarusky | Pre-Lollapalooza Party - Benefitting Special Olympics Illinois with Imagine Dragons, Icona Pop, Brick + Mortar, and Kellen & Me at Metro 7/31/13

 1. How did you get started doing this organization? You are pretty young, who helped you. What/Who were your influences? 

When I was a Junior in High school, I had friends in a band called "The Days" that really wanted to play a benefit concert in the city. They approached my friend and I about it, and we began brainstorming ideas. Because of an existing relationship with Joe Shanahan at Metro, we were fortunate to have it as our venue! We chose Special Olympics as I have grown up volunteering at events and getting to know the people involved. What started as an event showcasing high school and college bands turned into a Lollapalooza pre-show! We are now in our seventh year! My influences have been my father (Jeff McClusky), Joe Shanahan and Stacey Marquardt at Metro (as well as many other staff members there!), Huston Powell and Aly Ehlinger at C3, and so many others that have made this event possible. 

2. How do you pick out the bands to play our events? Is it music you listen too, and just want them involved?
In the beginning, most of the bands were friends that I wanted people to hear. As the event has grown, it has been a combination of music that I like and bands that are on the Lolla lineup and who are interested in the cause! 

3. I hear McDonalds had it out for you, but you pulled through, and changed the name, did that effect your outlook on things at all? 
The McDonald's story ended well, since we settled on a name change and a generous sponsorship. I was getting a little nervous throughout the process to be honest, but it all worked out in the end! 

4. What has been your favorite performance thus far, and did the band do anything in particular? 
That's definitely hard to say when acts like Flosstradamus, Cold War Kids, and Alabama Shakes have taken the stage at Nelarusky. However... in the first and second year, the bands "The Days" and "TeamOne" did a collaboration. The Days had an alternative folk-y sound, and TeamOne was a hip hop act, so the combination of sounds was really neat AND it ended up being a ton of friends on stage together... the energy was awesome! 

5. What are your goals for Nelarusky in the future events? 
It's definitely hard to say because of course I want to raise more money each year! We have now raised $135,000 over the past six years, and our goal continues to increase. I would also love to see Nelarusky expand to other cities in the future! 

6. Is their anything that most people don't know about Nelarusky that you want them to know?
Most people probably don't know that the event is entirely run by a group of young entrepreneurs. Plus, we wouldn't be able to have Nelarusky if it weren't for our sponsors! This year we have Scion, Audiotree, Next Door State Farm, and many more! We also still have VIP tickets and other exclusives on our fundraising campaign - 
7. Stic-of-the-Week is a fashion/music blog, what is your sense of fashion? What are some of your go-to stores in Chicago?

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