Luc Berard loved music from the very beginning. “When I was in secondary school, I was the guy who knew music before the others did,” he says. Even in the pre-Internet days, Luc had a nose for sniffing out new music and sharing it with others. So it seemed fitting that in 1987, he opened L'Oblique to share his love of music with the world.
For over 25 years at the store, Luc has watched Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood evolve. In 1987, it was a mostly francophone neighbourhood on the periphery of the city's cultural circuit. Now the Plateau is a diverse hub of students, artists and musicians at the centre of Montreal's fledgling independent music scene. “There's a lot of creativity in Montreal. It's very fun to watch that scene develop.”
Although you can still buy CDs at L'Oblique, the walls are decked with vinyl records, which Luc calls a “music lover's format.” The store sells mostly new, independent music, but also makes room for older artists like Bob Dylan, The Beatles and the The Ramones.
While more and more customers have been returning to the analogue format, L'Oblique has been selling vinyl alongside CDs even before the renewed interest. During the ’90s when the format was at risk of extinction, Luc always promoted it. “We've had vinyl on our walls since the beginning.”
As a music lover, Luc's priority is to spread new and interesting music to the world. That's why L'Oblique specializes in independent music. “It's neglected by the industry,” says Luc, “but there's a lot of interesting music that's independent.” Luc is particularly proud of Montreal's own scene, which has produced acts like Arcade Fire and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. If you ask him to name any of his favourite bands, he'll quickly list a number of acts that have impressed him recently. Sometimes, he even invites them to do a free, short concert in the store itself.
For people looking to have a good time in Montreal, L'Oblique also sells tickets to local concerts. While it's not the place to look if you want to attend a show at the Bell Centre, L'Oblique will help you out with tickets for independent shows of both local and touring artists.
If you need help delving into Montreal's music scene, Luc or one of his music-loving employees will happily give you advice on what concerts you should attend, which will often be held in small, intimate venues across the city, like Divan Orange in the Plateau or Casa del Popolo in the Mile End.
When he opened L'Oblique, Luc began hosting a show on new music for Montreal's community radio. For 10 years, he used that opportunity to spread the word about new artists in the city. “Why did I open the store? Why did I have the radio show? It's because I wanted so much to talk about music,” he says.
Luc brings that same level of insight and passion to each customer who walks through the door, whether they're seasoned music lovers or relatively new to independent music. Luc opened this store for the simple love of talking about music with everyone.