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JKRIV FOR CORRIDOR | JKRIV FOR CORRIDOR | JKRIV FOR CORRIDOR | JKRIV FOR CORRIDOR | JKRIV FOR CORRIDOR
INTERVIEW WITH JKRIV
Conor McKeon: Talk a little bit first about your relationship with the brand.
Jason Kriv: I discovered Corridor through an Instagram ad a couple years ago, and was pretty psyched when I realized that it was local - I live on DeKalb right by Pratt in Fort Greene. I've been a fan from the first piece I bought, the designs and textures and quality, and I wear Corridor a lot on DJ gigs. I have this party Hot Honey Sundays in Greenpoint, I’m constantly needing new clothes because those events are filmed, so I wear probably an embarrassingly amount of Corridor at this point *laughs*.
CM: Has it fit pretty seamlessly into your own personal style?
JK: It has, I think it falls somewhere in between a casual and slightly more elevated kind of look for me. They’re such unique pieces, unique fabrics and prints. When I wear them I get a lot of compliments and a lot of feedback on them.
CM: You mentioned our Fort Greene store. One thing we love about the space is that it’s as much a community hub as retail space. And in reading interviews I understand you wanted something similar for the Razor N Tape store.
JK: Yeah so we opened the shop in October, around the 10th anniversary of the label. We never planned on opening a physical location like that, but the opportunity came our way and it’s that community aspect that has been the most exciting and most gratifying part of owning the space. We've been able to bring a lot of people together from our scene, whether it's people we work with directly, artists on the label who are based in New York, or artists from out of town who might be visiting. Or even just fans of the music who might be visiting. And I'm there all the time with my partners on the label and it's just become a space where people can have a real connection to the brand and the music and the people making the music.
CM: Do you feel like that's something that's gone away a bit in New York over the last 10-20 years?
JK: I mean, there are very few record labels that actually have their own brick and mortar, so it’s unique. I think in general the culture of record stores is a little different than it used to be, especially because in the heyday of dance music there were tons of record stores that had all the new releases. That was the main way the people discovered and collected music. And it was all based around what was new and exciting and hot. Now, most of the record stores in New York are dealing in second hand records. I think that we're really one of the only physical shops in the city that is making an effort to sell new music on vinyl.
CM: And not just new releases, but you're moving more towards local acts as well.
JK: Yeah, though that aspect of things is not necessarily super premeditated. It's just the way that it's evolved. We do have a lot of local, New York bands that are on the label, and as that’s developed we’ve leaned into it more. We like having that collective of people who are all connected in one way or another, who cross-pollinate and work with each other and support each other.
CM: And I'm sure it helps foster that sense of community as well, right?
JK: Yeah, for sure.
CM: What is it about Greenpoint that made it the ideal location for the store?
JK: Greenpoint’s a great area because it doesn’t exactly have its own nightlife, but it’s close to areas that do, while still maintaining its own neighborhood feel. And being so close to Good Room was a major draw. There's also more record stores popping up over there, a walkable little cluster of shops. I think it’s good to be in a place like that, where people who might be specifically looking to go to record shops can kind of walk around to a bunch of them.
CM: Can you tell me a little bit about the design process for the store?
JK: So one of my shop partners, Jared, his wife is an architect. Her name is Elsa Arsenault and she was heavily involved in taking our concept and making it reality, and then also contracting our fabricator who made all the custom furniture in the shop. Aesthetically we just wanted something minimal, we needed custom furniture because it is a small space and it needed to be designed to maximize the space that we had. So when you come in, you can see we've got the big shelves that use the vertical space to make it feel bigger and draw the eye out.
CM: I love the front window, that’s such a neat feature.
JK: That’s what got us inspired and excited in the first place. We saw immediately how that could be the DJ set up for live-streaming and events. When we have events, we turn it up a little bit and there's a real kind of flow from the outside to inside. There's an openness that I really like. The idea was just to keep it as spare as possible. White walls, wood furniture, and plants.
"OUR DEFINITION OF DANCE MUSIC CAN BE A LITTLE BIT WIDER THAN IT USED TO BE"
CM: And that’s as a reflection of the brand aesthetic, or more of a necessity with the space?
JK: The Razor N Tape aesthetic is a little bit hard to pin down, at least visually. I think musically it's maybe a bit easier to track, although it has expanded quite a lot over the past few years. But we started with a real DIY look, just a white label with a stamp.
CM: Super clean.
JK: Clean and simple and sparse. But we’re now doing more custom artwork in collaboration with the musicians based on their visual identity. We have a design studio based out of France called Parade Studio. They’ve helped develop the shop branding, so the posters on the walls, the logo in front of the DJ booth, merchandising. Just taking our historically lo-fi DIY look and elevating it a bit into more of a coherent brand identity.
CM:. Did you grow up with an independent record store in your area?
JK: I grew up in Westchester and at the time if I was going to procure music, I went to the mall. When I was a kid they had cassettes, CDs, and records. So, you would have all three of those things, which was kind of an interesting thing to go to a shop that had three different formats. And depending upon what you were looking for that day, you might get any of the above. Those experiences were huge for me. I mean, I still have records I bought during those formative years. Those things stay with you forever.
CM: When did you start moving toward more independent stores?
JK: It was probably more in college. I went to Oberlin and there was a co-op bookstore which was part of this bigger store where you’d buy textbooks and whatever else. But they did have a record shop up there at that time. By that point in my life I was very into jazz. And I would go there and shop a lot. And that was more of the independent record store experience. It was curated by a former student and he chose everything that was in there and had impeccable taste.
CM: It sounds like a real community-based endeavor, which probably planted those seeds for you.
CM: What's the process for finding new acts and moving those acts physically into the store?
JK: So I have one partner with the label, Aaron, and the shop is a three-way partnership between me, Aaron, and Jared. Aaron and I handle the A&R process, finding new music and working with artists to develop releases. With any Razor N Tape release, it’s sometimes hard to trace necessarily a thread of genre or specific style, but the one thing it has in common is that Aaron and I both like it. Now Jared is much more involved, as label manager.
It’s rare that we’ll receive an unsolicited demo that turns into a relationship and artist release. These days we usually get together and think about what we want to do, and whose music we want to get on the label. If there's a certain sound or style that we want to try to expand into, then we’ll proactively go after artists or sounds. From there it's a question of developing the releases, going through demos or tracks an artist might have and pulling together an EP. Figuring out the right tempos and styles.
CM: Are you constantly looking to stretch the idea of what a Razor N Tape record sounds like? Or is the goal more about developing your own musical aesthetic and finding artists that fit into it?
JK: So originally we released music directed to DJs, for DJs. Music to be played in clubs. More recently we’re adding to that, with indie soul listening records. That's a big transition for us. And there's a whole different way of thinking about how you put music like that out into the world, how you promote it, how you market it, how you get it heard. And it's been exciting to sort of try to do some of these new things.
But we aren’t so specifically trying to do one thing or another, it’s more holistic than that. Really it comes down to, do we like this? Then let’s get it out and figure out how to do it.
CM: It's interesting that you’re moving towards releasing more listening records. I wonder if that’s consciously or subconsciously the result of having a physical store, and thinking in terms of listening in a smaller physical space?
JK: Yeah, it's definitely a bit of it. I think it’s also subconsciously influenced by the pandemic and lockdown, where I was doing a regular radio show for this Palestinian pop-up radio station, Radio Alhara. I was doing that monthly, and was obviously not in a dancing mood. There's no clubs, there's none of that kind of real-time feedback from people. So I was thinking a lot more about collecting and compiling and sequencing and programming music. That was more for listening than dancing. We're still into dance music, it’s what gets us the most excited, but we’re also thinking our definition of dance music can be a little bit wider than it used to be.
CM: You have a residency of Public Records. Can you talk a little bit about the residency, and also that about space and what you love about it?
JK: The residency is called A Joyful Noise, and the concept is a club night that has live music incorporated into it. I'm a musician before I'm a DJ and producer, and I've been playing in bands my whole life. I wanted to pull together something that brought those elements together, because I felt like there was a need for it.
So the format of the night is DJ plays a set, then there’s a house band I’ve put together that plays. So, throughout the night, there's an interlocking of DJ and live music, all still clubby and dance-heavy. Public Records is perfect because it’s obviously beautiful, and the sound is incredible and the technicians are just excellent. A live band on a club system is super challenging and they’re just so great at executing.
And it's also a really nice way for us to feature some of the new music that we're releasing on the label. So for example, the last one we had just released the Amy Douglas record and the Tiger Balm record and we had Tiger Balm come from the UK and DJ and we had Amy Douglas come up with the band and sing a couple of the tunes live. We've done that throughout the series and it's an elegant way to tie in the label output, and always keep it kind of interesting and fresh.
CM: Are you playing in the band?
JK: Yeah, I lead the band and I play bass and guitar.
CM: Have you found the process of DJing wholly different from being in a band?
JK: I mean, it prepares you for some aspects of touring and traveling. But it's pretty different. With bands, you're gonna get up there and for the most part, aside from moments of improvisation, you're mostly gonna play something that you've already decided to play. That's the best way to present live music. I get more joy out of presenting and executing music in that way. DJing is almost exactly the opposite. I do the preparation beforehand in terms of organization and knowing my music and getting the technical side of it down, and then when I go to play, I don't like to have anything prepared. I like to just respond to what's going on and try to make it work.
Practically speaking, there’s lots of differences. In a band you’re traveling, you’re with your friends, you’ve got people around. Something goes wrong, which often it does, you’ve got other heads to help figure out how to handle it. DJing is much more of an isolated endeavor. You're out there by yourself. It can be kind of lonely, kind of isolating sometimes. I think that’s why I enjoy DJing with Aaron, it’s nice to have a partner to collaborate with in real time.
CM: Well thanks so much for taking the time.
JK: Of course man, thank you.
JKriv is a NYC-based musician, DJ, producer, and co-founder of the independent label Razor N Tape. Catch his upcoming gigs below, and keep up with future gigs here.
BK - RNT @ Sultan Room with Flamingo Pier (live)
CDMX - RNT @ Departmento with JKriv & Flamingo Pier
CDMX - JKriv @ Sunday Sunday
BK - RNT presents A Joyful Noise @ Public Records