Interview with Ultimae Records – The quiet side of Lyon

ultimae-records-logoUltimae Records, the Lyon based ambient downtempo label and music studio has been a safe haven for musicians and lovers of electronic music for more than 17 years. With its passion and eye to the detail the releases and music have been mesmerizing from beginning to today. I took the chance to ask label manager Sandrine Gryson a few questions.

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Hi Sandrine, thank you very much for this possibility to make an interview. I’ve recently visited the Ultimae Records store in Lyon and felt really good. How to you keep this friendly feeling in a store?
That friendly feeling happened over the years, it comes from welcoming people simply, offering tea and coffee, taking time to chat and help people discover new music.

Ultimae Records is not only a store but also a label for Ambient and Electronica. How did all this start?
It started 17 years ago with the release of Asura’s Code Eternity album, Vincent Villuis, former band member, decided to set up a label to release this album and create a portal for ambient lovers. I joined at the end of January 2000.

On your label are acts from all over the world. How do you get into contact with all these artists?
Sometimes it’s on the net, sometimes we receive a demo, most of the time we meet in person and we click. And then sometimes one artist introduces us to another like with Martin Nonstatic and  Esko Barba / EskoStatic

Electronic music and France is a long living love affair. Is there still a big crowd today listening to the silent type of music you publish?
I would say there is a growing crowd, what we lack though are the good venues for this music genre and the type of concert we’d like to see / hear / present.

Ambient is not an easy music to explain to someone who does not know this genre. How would you do it?
I guess I would talk about time and space, slow down the rhythm and widen the horizon, I would also talk about a certain way to look at music as something that is part of your environment, look at music as soundscapes, kind of the way Eric Satie first mentioned the term, a music you can hear or listen, at different levels to discover something new each time.

If I would like to immerse myself in fantastic ambient sounds, what records should I own?
Start with the Ultimae collection, and then, have a listen to the productions of Klangwirkstoff, Silent Season, Slowcraft, Databloem, 12K, Erased Tapes and so many others. Actually, checking out our online shop would be a good start as we present the works of most worldwide ambient labels.

Is Brian Eno’s „Music For Airports“ also for you the big bang in this genre? Or what artists have gotten you hooked on this sound?
I started with Classical music, the works of Mozart and Beethoven, I first heard Eno’s ambient works back in 1990 and yes they were one of the stepping stones in my ambient discovery path. A few years later the techno scene brought in its wake ambient techno which led me to London’s chill out spaces, the works of Aphex Twin, The Orb, Laurie Anderson, and so many other artists brought me to the records I listen to and release today.

What were the biggest hits on your label?
The “Fahrenheit Project” collection, Solar Fields’s “Leaving Home”, Carbon Based Lifeforms’ “Hydroponic Garden” and “World of Sleepers”, Asura’s “360”, AES Dana’s “Memory Shell” and “Perimeters”, H.U.V.A. Network’s albums of course, and more recently “Far & Off”.
James Murray’s new “Eyes to the Height” is looking very promising.

aes-dana_-verpackungYour records are designed in a wonderful way and with much love. For you the packaging is also a big part of an album right?
Exactly, it is as important as the music to us, it brings a visual tapestry for the listener to start on an inner journey. Arnaud and Vincent fully collaborate with either the composers of the deejays to capture the imagery of the sound and explore the story.

Vinyl is booming – has had this shift in perspective also an effect on to your business? Or do people mainly buy digital download from Ultimae?
Yes, we started releasing vinyl’s, Eps for the time being, maybe albums in the future too. And we sell a lot of vinyl’s in our record shop in Lyon, more than CDs at the moment. Definitely a boom.
Thank goodness, people buy all sorts of things from Ultimae, a lot of digital sales, mainly streaming, but a lot of merchandise too, we’ve had to considerably extend our line of fabrics to answer demands from all around the world, covering all seasons.

What are the plans for the future of Ultimae Records? Any big acts or releases on the horizon?
We’re about to open a new Record Shop, café and co-dreaming space in Lyon, on the Saône riverside in Spring, and as for music, we have Mizoo’s Greenosophy Second Chapter coming out next, followed by Polarity, a double compilation Ambient & Techno by Focal, an album by Master Margherita, another by AES Dana, more ambient libraries on USB keys, the Mandorla movie soundtrack, and the launch of EskoStatic ; trust me, we won’t be bored, and you neither will you!

2019 will be a big year for your label, 20 years in the business. Can we expect a celebration with concerts?
You can always expect that, who knows what will happen, I don’t. We’ll see…

Thank you for the interview and all the best.
Thanks for the opportunity Michael and best wishes to you.

Dieser Text erschien zuerst in Deutscher Übersetzung auf Artnoir.

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