Updated: Oct 25, 2021
O&O is stoked to return to one of fav spots on planet Earth: Montréal. I am especially excited to showcase one of my fav human beings on the planet, a purveyor of consistently amazing music, multi-genre maestro selector, & DJ - KRIS GUILTY.
I have been visiting Montréal since I was a child. My father’s side of the family has deep roots in Québec. I have spent many a lost, beautiful night in The City of Saints. The city is renowned for its culture, food, diverse culture ,& most importantly, its music scene. NYC is my first love, but Montreal is a second home. I have always been drawn to its music culture.
Montréal was once world-renowned as disco’s second city in the late 1970s & early 1980s. By the time the decade & music came to an end, its music scene had fallen off the radar. But the scene never vanished, it went underground & became something new. The nightlife remained shaped by the glitter & fame of previous decades with post-disco Hi-NRG reigned in its gay quarters. Listening to the music of that era, you can hear the then-new & darker waves coming from northern England & Belgium and smashing into the rising garage sound emerging from NYC.
From all accounts, this evolution came to a head in the early 1990s, when a bunch of locals & students from McGill University decided they wanted to experience something different. It was time for Montréal to catch up with the global movement that was sweeping all across Europe & the US. That movement was rave.
As many know, it was in the early 1990s when raving constituted the coming-of-age for a generation of youngsters. When me & my Brooklyn crew crossed the border & landed in Montréal, we, like many, would meet at the corner of Milton & Clark -- a mythical meeting point for the rave buses. From here, we would embark on intense & wild experiences involving futuristic music (& some yet-unknown drugs).
These parties sowed the seeds for the careers of some of Montréal’s most well-known techno & dance music ambassadors. The scene created vocations for the city’s most incredible DJs & implanted a love affair with anything slightly illegal & free that, in my opinion, still informs Montréal’s underground scene today.
I fell in love with Montréal because this scene was like a private club, a completely different world. I would return many times throughout the 1990s & 2000s. Some of the most amazing nights out with good people, good food, drink & music were had. It was a blur of nights with Chromeo, Tiga, Sixtoo, the Turbo Crunk crew, Mofomatronix, Hovatron, the newly arrive Ninja Tune crew, & many others at Zoobizarre, Coda Club, & many late after parties at undisclosed warehouses. Oh man, the Low End Theory and LuckyMe parties… those were crazy days. But that is another story for another time...
Fast forward to 2014, my family & I made a trip to Quebec for the holidays. While walking the city & showing it off to my then 10 year-old son & wife, so much had changed in the city. My usual haunts were gone, the record stores I would frequent & crate dig for hours had been renamed or disappeared entirely. One spot, a great dusty, musty used-record store, Fin de Vinyle (Death of Vinyl) was still there, but with a slight addition. In its own section, there was this long-haired cat who was playing some amazing house. Kris had a carefully curated section of new music. I could tell he too was a wax-head. He had the kind of discerning tastes that I could vibe with & learn from. We immediately connected. He was patient & kind about my so-so français.
Every year since (except in 2020 of course), we returned to Montréal. It’s a annual family tradition now. Visiting with Kris, catching up, talking about new releases, what tracks were banging in our sets. I learned about the new scene in Montreal. New clubs, and parties. He introduced me to a new world. He also introduced me to Walla-P, who we showcased earlier this year. There are so many amazing artists & people who just love good music and a good time. I am grateful to have been connected to it all via Kris.
Kris has come a long way since his small section at Fin de Vinyle. He opened La Rama Records in 2017. He runs the shop with his girlfriend Jeanne (Gene Tellem, an amazing musician & DJ who we hope to profile here soon!).
My visits are long, mainly because of how chatty I am but I blame the amazing espresso he shares. I have had the pleasure of meeting his family & friends. La Rama swiftly became the city’s go-to spot for dance music. Like all great record shops, La Rama brings people together, it fosters a special community. It is a gateway into amazing sounds, spanning all genres of good, soulful music. I am honored, grateful to call Kris a friend.
I am still conspiring to spin wax with him someday soon, but COVID put a dent into those plans. But as things open up, I am hopeful we will make it happen. Until then, I have been dying to get Kris to join our OVER&OVER DJ series & share his sounds and selections with our audience.
INTERVIEW WITH KRIS GUILTY
SUMJ: Ça va Kris? How are things with you?
KG: Nice & busy keeping the shop full of goods & trying to provide as much musical enjoyment as possible :-)
SUMJ: How was the summer? Has Montréal opened up a bit more? Is COVID on the decline there?
KG: Well it was as best as we could make it with plenty of outdoor activities but we have yet to get the go on indoor dance events.
SUMJ: I know that folks are eager to get out again, & many are still cautious. What has the music & dance scene been like? Have you had the chance to DJ with a live crowd yet? If so, what was it like?
KG: There seem to be many new & familiar names & faces doing their best to keep the party going strong so the dance is still alive & well in a more subtle way. Luckily I get to do my duty of sharing music via the shop & by soundtracking a new spot in Chinatown called Fleurs & Cadeaux. On a larger scale the shop got to host a stage at Piknic Electronik, the first big event since March of 2020.
SUMJ: What has it been like during this pandemic for you creatively? Any positives that came out of being locked down?
KG: With the inability to just roam the city & see where a night can take you, I must say it was not the most creative of times. The shop never stopped so the focus was mainly on staying open & active to keep the fire burning. For some, the lock down may have finally been a moment to reassess life & its contents but I had made the adjustment years earlier to open the shop so the challenge was in making it through in good health.
SUMJ: I’ve been crate digging for over 30 years around the globe, & your shop is a must stop -- not just for the long jaz sessions (“chats" for my Anglophones) & coffee. It is a very special place to me, but for those who aren’t aware of La Rama, can you share how you got started and what makes La Rama unique?
KG: La Rama started without too much of a plan, just figuring out how to get these records from a seemingly infinite variety of places into one zone, to create a living room of changing offerings. I started playing records to entertain & make people dance from as early as 10, venturing the city to buy music from those days on. The record shop as a destination enriched my life with experience, & around 2016 things lined up to offer up a place for the city.
SUMJ: What was opening your own shop like & what was the most important lesson you learned starting your own record store?
KG: Making a commitment to something & following through with it was the greatest challenge ever & I would strongly recommend to anyone who truly loves something to make the leap.
SUMJ: I’d love to talk about the music you’ve been putting out. I understand that you don’t plan a lot & that you like to create a vibe of the local record that’s a bit cheaper than the imported record. Can you expand on that?
KG: I mostly deal with imports so making records on this side of the Atlantic means a more affordable option for locals & people visiting BUT the slammed manufacturing line has kinda delayed that option.
SUMJ: You’ve also noted how the shop isn’t a label. What do you mean?
KG: It is not a label in the full sense yet, the physical shop is the priority for now & hopefully in the near future I can be as considerate of all the aspects of releasing music.
SUMJ: What is Montréal’s music/dance culture like these days? Where do you see it going?
KG: It unfortunately can’t show off right now but from what can be gathered through the grapevine the city is brimming with energy & options. There is more public talk about night life & the key role it plays in our city dwelling life, hopefully some laws can be tweaked creating the space for it to fully express itself. Always fresh faces & cool locals keeping the tradition going :-)
SUMJ: Any upcoming projects you are excited about?
KG: Playing packed parties! May that return first & then we can move on to new things.
SUMJ: What’s your take on the current music scene in the Montréal area? Any artists you are into these days?
KG: So much coming out on physical format & off, it’s hard to keep up. I’m always in to what the NAFF crew is doing, Gene Tellem’s work with Laroie (also known as Secret Witness), Gayance working with a slew of local killers, & the list can go on...
SUMJ: What have been and/or continue to be some of your influences?
KG: The ability to ALWAYS find something new or unknown. The creative opus of the planet is already infinite so it feels good to take part in infinity.
SUMJ: What music have you recently discovered that you are into or are playing on repeat these days?
KG: 80/90s Soul & smooth Hip Hop instrumentals is what i’m on the search for.
SUMJ: For the uninitiated, what is the ethos of your sets? What should they expect from your music and/or DJ sets?
KG: There is such a flow of music through my possession that sets are often the best snapshot of what is currently occupying my space. I’m grateful to be in this position & try hard to create a randomly assembled mood that feels just right. I also let the party or venue influence what style of music, got to respect & amplify the situation.
SUMJ: What can we expect from your mix for OVER&OVER? What inspired your mix?
KG: It’s a fall mood, melancholy & love. This mix is in the key of one that I made years ago when I first met GT, the mixtape as a love letter :-). It’s called TCB Tapes & can still be found on SoundCloud if you're interested.
Okay, rapid fire DJ Q&A. Ready? Set? Go…
Describe yourself using the title of a song:
KG: Hold Your Horses
Where’s the strangest place you’ve woken up?
KG: Behind the counter at the shop.
What would be the worst dance track in the world to be tortured with on repeat?
KG: Most things on the big box store playlist.
What is the one music genre you will never play?
KG: Never say never.
The most awkward moment you’ve had as a DJ/musician?
KG: Super club gigs.
What’s the most played record in your bag?
KG: Jus-Ed ‘ I’m Coming’ (Levon Vincent Mix)
What’s the most prized collection in your crates?
KG: Hmmm... I can’t pick one.
What is the one record you are still crate digging for?
KG: Got em all so far :-)
Where was your first DJ gig & what did you play?
KG: A friend's basement at 13 years old. Mostly Hip-Hop & Dancehall.
What was the first record you bought & where?
KG: WIth my own $? Mic Geronimo - Nothin Move But The Money around 1998.
What artist or person who isn’t a DJ would you like to see DJ?
KG: Ed Motta could play that collection of his.
UFOs/Aliens - Is the truth out there?
KG: The answer is to be found within.
If asked, would you leave Earth to boogie with ET?
KG: I would not mind a little Space Walk.
What question would you like to ask an omniscient, all-knowing being before you die?
KG: Why is this interview so long! Just kidding :-)
Last question: What is coming up for you next? What are you working on? When and where can we see you spinning and/or playing live next ?
KG: More records, more dancing, & let us see where it goes from there.
Kris, thank you so much for sharing your talents and thoughts with us. We love this mix & are thrilledto put it out! I can’t wait to spin wax for the people with you IRL soon. Until then, this mix will have to hold us over.