We’ve already featured Kris Guilty in our MIXED BY/ series and we’re not shying away from featuring him again, as he is an important piece of Montreal’s music community. Kris is one to never shy away from living his passion to the fullest and undertaking multiple projects to bring people together and take them onto unforgettable musical journeys. Starting to build his reputation and getting known in Montreal through the organization of underground events, now Kris is living his passion to a new level with his latest undertaking: starting his own record store. « La Rama » is a mirror of Kris’s taste and personality. Eclectic, down to earth, open to share and experiment and most importantly, open to people. The record store is configured with its little bistro bar where you can enjoy a cup of coffee before or after digging through the stacks of vinyl, for music lovers to stay awhile. If you want to test your latest digs, there’s even a space in front with decks where you can test run new acquisitions and experiment the blends and mixes that could generate some chemistry and hypnotize future audiences. Of course, if you need, Kris is there to help and will more than gladly exchange with other melomaniacs about records and the history, personal and general, behind each of them.
We caught up with Kris who was kind enough to give us some time and chat with us and even cook up a little impromptu mix full of goodies from his store.
Where does the name of the store come from (story behind it)?
The name is a homage to my family. I have also played and signed some works as La Rama, the store is an extension of this. It is more of a performance than a store in the traditional sense… at least for the meantime.
What moment, feedback or event that happened in your life made you think ‘ok, this is it, time to do this and open up a record store’? What gave birth to the idea?
All these years of searching, collecting, and most importantly developing a sense of understanding the landscape of recorded music had to evolve. It had been a few years that the want to open a place was around, but the will only came when the right space presented itself. It was simple, I would never know just what could come of this idea unless it was done… and the right space is the place :-)
You mentioned earlier that your store has an ‘antique bookstore’ aesthetic. Bookstores faced a similar threat that vinyl faced when virtual tools such as tablets came into the market and allowed people to download multiple books into one source. Yet bookstores remain important as some of them, especially antique bookstores, hold literary gems that might be unknown to the general public. Do you believe vinyl stores hold the same role and are guardians of musical history ? Or do vinyl stores hold a broader role?
Record and book stores have personality and are a product of the environment they live in. They survive and then flourish when they can improve the quality of life around its existence with a great enough public who recognizes the importance of the service it provides. A physical location offers you a place to go, it is an escape from the algorithms (notice how it is rithms & not rhythms) of internet shopping, streaming, pay to play, & the peer pressure of your circle of friends.
The retail store rose to its climax with the growth of consumerism, and it was always destined to fall the day a new way of consuming would be introduced to the public. A real shop is not simply about consumption, it is a service whose complexity relies on the experience and proficiency of the people who keep it.
The debate is for people who want to debate. Digital copies and representations allow the world to learn of the existence of information that was for a long time reserved to those with the means or the knowledge of. Now almost anything can be found out. But to have a direct experience with it, that is where the physical format exist, for those who wish to work for a piece of it, and in doing so support all the artistry behind its creation.
It is the whole experience around it. Records take just enough work to truly enjoy. Not too much to be a burden, just enough to make you part of the process. Other than that everyone involved will have their combination of aspects.
You told me earlier that your state of mind changed from strictly passion driven to incorporating more of a business mindset in promoting the music you sell, trying to reach as many people as possible. Have you seen any concrete, tangible results from that change in mindset in the feedback you get on your store, the music you try to showcase and for your events?
Sometimes when observing the business of music it seems like a war for the domination of peoples attention. With that I feel the necessity to do my own work and hopefully get people on another lineage of music. One that has greater energy and is healthier than what is offered on the main stage. There is no incorporating of anything specific, I just know that this side of music deserves to have a greater audience.
It is pretty simple… instead of wasting energy on selling things you don’t like, get people into what you have to offer. Every shop is unique, they are all different, good or bad. La Rama is what I have to give until there are more members of the family.
What are your favourite records in the store right now? What are your favourite ones that you let go?
The Goerges-Edouard Nouel record is a gift from the past… and I keep a copy of everything that really gets me so no letting go just yet!
What’s next for La Rama? And for you (in general)?
Hopefully provide a wider selection of music for all listeners, get them up on what is coming around, and put out some original music from the greater community :-)
Shout outs (Montreal and worldwide)?
All the shops, distributors, musicians, DJs, producers, engineers, record plant massive, turntable technicians, cabinet makers, artists, designers, clubs and venues that respect the format (it is the reason this all exists!) and everyone who takes part and enjoys the beauty of recorded music.
Also much love to all the friends who come and support, you are the shop, and I will always consider you when searching for the new.
Interview by Jon
Photo by Sarah-Marie