Label to celebrate milestone with re-release of Calmmunicate album
It was just over a decade ago when Troy Gronsdahl and David Jaguttis first opened a specialty hip-hop retail store and art and performance space in the Rumley Building. Located on the corner of Pacific Avenue and 24th Street East, the duo dubbed their venture Phonographique – a French-sounding name chosen for its “sophistication.”
Expanding into the online realm, Gronsdahl – who releases music under the moniker soso – and Jaguttis began selling and distributing hip-hop albums and mixtapes via their website. Meanwhile, the space also hosted intimate performances featuring all genres of music. The store also featured an art gallery, which was named Royal Red “after the large jugs of cheap red wine,” says Gronsdahl.
“We specialized in independent hip-hop music with a particular focus on Canadian artists,” he continues. “We had a respectable run, about four years all told, but it was not sustainable. I returned to work in the non-profit art sector and my partner married and moved to the United States. We had both invested a great deal of energy and care into Phonographique.”
It wasn’t until after the shop closed that Ryan Stinson took over.
A Saskatoon-born hip-hop producer and graphic designer, Stinson commandeered the name and continued to use the site as a retail outlet. But he envisioned using the site as something more: A vehicle for a record label.
“I wanted to use it to promote the Saskatchewan hip-hop scene and western Canada who were familiar with the name,” says Stinson. “When I acquired Phonographique I had a clout with the name behind me and from there I’ve met a ton of great people.”
In 2010 Phonographique dropped their first release 20 Something, Stinson’s collaboration with Chapter Thrive. The album has both a slick look and sound, which helps defines the label’s aesthetic.
Phonographique has since released works from the likes of mikedecline, The Super Professionals (Chapter Thrive and Charly Hustle) and Stinson’s recent album Futura, which features Juno-nominated rapper Ghettosocks and Saskatoon’s Kay the Aquanaut.
And it’s not just the music and the beats that capture people’s attention – Phonographique similarly puts out releases that are eye-catching with artwork from Jeff Burgess.
We wanted to get this out to the people who really appreciate us.
And to celebrate the ten-year anniversary, Stinson says that the label has reissued mikedecline’s Calmmunicate on the cassette, which includes six new tracks along with updated cover art.
“Mike has been a workhorse for Phonographique,” says Stinson, who promises several new releases for 2014. “We used to have brain-storming sessions where we would try and imagine how we would get back to the glory days. And we came to this idea where we would push product. But he had been sitting on a lot of beats and Calmmunicate was actually his second release for the label, which came out in 2012. It was one of our most popular releases we decided to give it a special treatment.
“The cassette is a very interesting medium,” he continues. “In hip-hop you hear the term ‘mixtape’ a lot. This is a beat tape but it’s also a mixtape.
“We wanted to get this out to the people who really appreciate us.”
– Special thanks to Troy Gronsdahl for the photos of Phonographique the store and to Ryan Stinson for all other images