Passion for music runs deep for Samuel Ricciuti. By day, he can be found teaching French at The Runnels School. After leaving his office, however, he’s likely to be found at his home studio producing the next big hit in Euro electronica.
Originally from Metz, France, Ricciuti runs the international record label Chez Kito Kat with his wife, Salima, and his friend, Christophe Biache, who lives in France. The record label was created in December 2006 in Metz and will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in December.
“I love records,” said Ricciuti, who is working towards his doctorate in the sociology of music. “This is my passion.”
Over the course of its 10 years, Chez Kito Kat first began with organizing concerts, but then shifted gears into producing music. Since then, the label has organized 200 concerts, produced 57 records on both vinyl and CD, and worked with 40 artists from all around the world, including France, Canada and Luxembourg. The name of the label derives from Ricciuti’s cat Kito, and how musicians would spend the night at his home after concerts.
Ricciuti and his wife have been living in Baton Rouge for two years now and work on the label from his home. Because of the seven-hour time difference, each day he wakes up at 6 a.m. to communicate with his colleague, artists and distributors overseas. From 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. he works teaching French, and when he goes home, he works more on the label until 6 p.m.
“It’s a very long day, every day. It’s a big change,” Ricciuti, who moved to the capital city to teach, said. “It’s easy because of the Internet because I can work with communicating with artists through email, but to produce and to distribute the record is hard. It’s difficult, but my colleague works in France, and he distributes the record. It’s a big change, but I like it because it’s a new beginning for the record label, and that’s why it’s important to me.”
And now Ricciuti is looking for the label’s first American artist.
“We have artists from France, everywhere in Europe, Canada, but we don’t have any artists in America yet, but we are trying to produce someone,” Ricciuti said. “I want musicians to know there is a new record label in town and maybe they can contact me.”
Ricciuti considers the level and technique of Baton Rouge musicians to be very high.
“I think it’s a great city because there are great places to play music,” Ricciuti said. “We are very close to New Orleans, and we can have a lot of possibilities. We’re in a good city for music. It’s a good challenge because I can do something for electronic music here because of my background.”
The label holds a catalog of experimental electronic music, explorative rock, and experimental songs, which is primarily what the label is looking for in potential new artists.
“We are searching for electronic musicians, they just have to send me the music first and then we can meet,” Ricciuti said. “Everything is possible.”
While maintaining two careers may seem like a demanding balancing act, Ricciuti doesn’t view it as burdensome.
“The record label is my first activity,” Ricciuti said.
The label takes the idea of craftsmanship down to the tiniest detail. All the CD packaging for the label are handmade, and all vinyl are printed around 300 or 500 copies. He held a copy of his first printed record in his hands and explained the satisfaction he feels.
“I’m very proud,” Ricciuti said. “This is why I do this. I’m very happy to listen and to share my music, and when someone writes that they enjoy it, it makes me very happy.”
Chez Kito Kat is distributed in Europe by CLEARSTREAM (Netherland/Distributor) and LOBSTER DISTRIBUTION (UK). Interested listeners can find records from the label in record shops such as Lagniappe Records in Lafayette or Euclid Records in New Orleans.
A double compilation in honor of the anniversary will be free to download on the label’s Bandcamp page at chezkitokatrecords.bandcamp.com.
Photo by Greta Jines.