Manager and spouse of Lary Kidd, programmer at Ausgang Plaza, event planner and founder (alongside her man) of the clothing brand Officiel in 2016 – the most notorious model for which is the rapper Loud, and whose label bears prominent laurel leaves emblazoned with the words Montreal Made Me – Dana Lluis epitomizes all the cool the music industry needs.
Born in Montréal’s Rosemont neighbourhood, near the Angus shops, she studied film at Collège Ahuntsic. After being a stalwart of Montréal nightlife as the manager of Le Salon Officiel – a now defunct, yet still famous watering hole in the Plateau neighbourhood – Lluis has put this experience to good use in her current professional life, a hectic one in which routine doesn’t exist.
“I’m an insomniac by nature, and I sleep a maximum of three hours per night,” admits Lluis, citing a metabolic condition that suits her perfectly, with a schedule as diverse as it is busy. “It allows me to make the most of my time on different projects,” she says.
The Officiel clothing brand is the envy of many. “We bought a batch of discontinued jackets from the ’90s, that’s how it started,” says Lluis. “It’s the scarcity effect! Twice a year, we sell Officiel in our pop-up boutiques in Montréal, and once a year in Paris. And we now sell online.”
The 34-year-old go-getter, who’s half-Catalan, half-Mexican, is very versatile.
Ausgang Plaza, the 4,500-square-foot multi-disciplinary room, which Lluis has run for six years, includes 15 small studios in the basement of a St-Hubert Street building. She estimates that it hosts more than 150 events per year.
“Our parties are very diverse,” she says. “We can rent the room for private parties, events, shows of all musical genres. Several renowned DJ’s, including Kaytranada, have played at the Ausgang,” says Lluis, whose personal taste in music leans toward global sounds, hip-hop, indie, and house.
Her life partner and management client Lary Kidd released two EPs, including the magnificent Le poids des livres, in 2021. A full-length debut is slated for 2024. “Since there were no shows during the pandemic, we seized the opportunity to improve all the technical equipment,” says Lluis.
Ausgang Plaza has another quiver in its bow: a Francofolies Festival showcase for beat-makers, held annually on the esplanade of Montréal’s Place des Arts. “We’re very much into that, among other things, with the monthly Loop Sessions event at Ausgang,” says Lluis. “Using the same sample, a DJ adapts it to his or her own sauce, and can play his or her remix at night in front of the other participants in the event.”
Develop, Network, Conquer
Deploying its antennae in markets outside Québec is now an integral part of being an artist manager in our current music ecosystem. It’s important to develop a network of venues and bookers in Europe, for example.
Pop-electro-R&B singer Gab Godon, alias Laroie (published by Arts & Crafts, distributed by Awal in the U.K.), participated in a SOCAN Kenekt Studio song camp in 2022, and will soon fly to London before heading to Scotland and France for a few showcases, to help launch her career in Europe.
“I’m more aware of the challenge of working with an artist signed to a label [Lary Kidd is on Coyote Records] and an independent artist in all aspects; although she receives some subsidies, Laroie must necessarily self-finance her production and promotional expenses,” says Lluis.
The Québec delegations that go to the Printemps de Bourges and take advantage of the Spécimens Canadiens showcase, or to Paris for the MaMA and its Ma Cabane à Paname showcase, are all musical opportunities that serve Lluis and Québec musicians, no matter what genre they play.
Dana Lluis clearly has flawless taste and undeniable talent. Does she think it’s harder to carve out a niche for yourself as a woman? If some were scared of the rap scene, Lluis doesn’t mind it too much. “I was a little apprehensive at first about the male world of hip-hop and rap,” she says. “There aren’t a lot of female managers. You’re taken seriously when you prove yourself. The fact that I have more experience today, and more confidence, allows me, in a given situation, to disagree, and say so without fear.”
Is there a gender wage gap? “I know the salaries in the sector, and I can confirm that there’s a disparity,” says Lluis. “There’s an increasing awareness that equity is needed. On the other hand, there are more and more women in the industry.”
The spring of 2023 will, once again, be a fertile one for Lluis. She wears so many hats, one is tempted to call her the Québec music industry’s Swiss army knife! “What I love the most about my work,” she says, “is delivering a team project.”