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
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."