Montreal

Trio of music lovers bringing vinyl back to Quebec City

The Leisure Society will be a one of a kind record store/coffee shop/vinyl pressing plant in Quebec City's Saint-Roch neighbourhood.

The Leisure Society will be a one-of-a-kind record store/coffee shop/vinyl pressing plant

Audrey Lapointe, left, Jean-Francois Bilodeau and Olivier Bresse, right, hold examples of new coloured vinyls similar to the ones they hope to produce at The Leisure Society before 2020. (Julia Caron/CBC)

Three Quebec City music lovers have concocted their dream project: a coffee shop-meets-record store combined with a state-of-the-art vinyl pressing plant.

When it opens in the Saint-Roch neighbourhood this coming fall, The Leisure Society will be a space to slow down, put on a good record, and enjoy a cup of coffee.

Not only that, it will be the province's first vinyl pressing plant since the last one closed in 2015.

Growing demand

Demand for vinyl records from consumers continues to grow across the country, while artists and music labels increasingly return to physical music platforms.

Jean-François Bilodeau, Audrey Lapointe and Olivier Bresse have been working on the project for the past two years.

The three met through a shared love of good coffee and great music while working in different roles in the restaurant world.

Three Quebec City music lovers have concocted their dream project: a coffee shop-meets-record store combined with a state of the art vinyl pressing plant. CBC's Julia Caron introduces us to the people behind la Société des Loisirs, which hopes to open its doors to music lovers of all kinds this fall in the Saint-Roch neighbourhood. 11:51

"Jean-François is crazy about playlists," said Bresse, with a laugh.

Bilodeau would create carefully curated music playlists for the restaurants he worked in, and it wasn't long before the three struck up a friendship.

"We just realized that we buy vinyls, but we all bought mostly online," Bresse said.

"Through traveling, we experienced really good record store experiences, and then we just decided that maybe we should give it a go," he said.

Olivier Bresse looks through Jean-Francois Bilodeau’s dilligently alphabetized record collection, which mostly consists of new releases on coloured vinyls. (Julia Caron/CBC)

After looking into what it would take to open a coffee shop and record store, the demand for new vinyl production became obvious.

"That's when we got the crazy idea to make a pressing plant," Bilodeau said.

He's well aware it's ambitious, but is confident that new technology will help them make vibrant, colourful quality records for local music labels.

Jean-Francois Bilodeau puts on Gang of Four's 1979 debut album Entertainment! on his record player. It's one of 863 vinyl records in his collection. (Julia Caron/CBC)

Bilodeau will be "the guy operating the machines and trying to get the best quality records to come out."

The trio have been hard at work for the past two years, visiting pressing plants in Detroit, and checking in with independent music labels in Quebec City and Montreal to suss out demand.

Diversity of genres

The Leisure Society aims to reflect the diversity of Quebec's vibrant music scene in their production.

"We want to showcase everything from jazz to experimental to world music," said Bresse.

Having experienced different music scenes as audience members and sometimes musicians, the trio have a deep understanding of what the local music community needs.

This marbled vinyl is an example of one of the unique coloured vinyls the Leisure Society hopes to be producing in Quebec City by 2020. (Julia Caron/CBC)

Bresse had a long metal phase as a teen, Lapointe grew up in the punk scene, while Bilodeau leans more towards experimental and post-punk.

"Sometimes a vinyl production can mean pushing back the release of a new album for five or six months," said Bresse.

Just this month, one of Quebec's best known artists, Jean Leloup had to delay the vinyl release of his new album L'étrange pays due to production delays.

The art of the object

One independent music label in Quebec City, P572, has been producing more vinyl in recent years. Sam Murdock, the label's founder, has gone as far as California to make the physical record.

Murdock, and many other music lovers, appreciate that vinyls offer an opportunity to create a tactile complement to the music, emphasizing the importance of the physical object in addition to the quality of sound.

Canada's current enfant terrible of the music scene, Hubert Lenoir, handwrote letters and added Polaroids to the 1,000 copies P572 produced of his debut album Darlène.

Quebec City music label P572 has been producing vinyls in recent years, but has had to go all the way to California to get the physical records pressed. Sam Murdock is behind this holographic design for hip-hop group Alaclair Ensemble. (P572 Records)

Ritual of records

Many albums in Bilodeau's collection — he'll only listen to on a record player, in part because it invites him to take the time to listen to an entire record in the way the artist intended.

"The sound is warmer, it is… it's scientific," Bilodeau said.

Bresse disagrees.

"To me it's not about sound, but it's about the ritual, putting the time in. And that's where I see the connection with coffee. I'm a fan of drip coffee, it takes time, you can't rush it."

As for the location, there is no doubt The Leisure Society has to be in Saint-Roch.

"It's our home, it's where we all live and work."

Jean-Francois Bilodeau's record collection is mostly made up of brand new records. Here we see Big Thief's latest album, U.F.O.F., released in May 2019. (Julia Caron/CBC)

About the Author

Julia Caron

Journalist

Julia Caron is a journalist, radio-maker and art lover based in Quebec City. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Julia has lived in over a dozen military towns growing up. She has called Quebec City home since 2008, and proudly calls herself a franglophone (yes, it's a thing).

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