Written by Luc Gloanec.
Thursday January 22 marks the 5th anniversary of one of (if not THE) Vancouver’s greatest nightclubs and live music venues. Anyone who is at all familiar with Vancouver nightlife knows about Fortune Sound Club. It is a prime venue hosting the best live music in any genre, and delivered by one of the best sound systems in Vancouver. Thursday January 22, will be Fortune’s 5 year birthday, and there is a lot to celebrate. Emerging out of the seedy Chinatown neighborhood off Pender and Main, Fortune Sound Club is not only revitalizing the neighborhood, it has set a new standard for night clubs in Vancouver by promoting local music as well as hosting elite Canadian and international artists.
If you have not yet been to this fabulous den of music, vice, and all things that say party, Thursday promises to be celebration to kick off 2015 in grand fashion. As mentioned, Fortune Sound Club boasts arguably the best sound system in Vancouver. This, combined with its spacious wooden floor, reasonable prices, and actually really decent music (not just stalk top 40 hits on rotation) makes it more than worth the short walk over from Gastown or Granville Street. Come find out why newspapers such as “The Georgia Straight” rate Fortune Sound Club as the best music venue in the city, and why the biggest musical projects in Vancouver, such as the Peak Performance Project, are seeking Fortune as their venue ‘par excellence’.
And what about the brains behind this juggernaut sonic operation? Allow me to introduce you to Gman and Rizk, the force behind the music. They have a long history in Vancouver but their friendship extends even longer. We got the chance to ask them a few question about the last 5 years and what it means to own and manage one of the hottest nightclubs Vancouver in Vancouver history…
How did you two meet?
Gman: Rob was a bboy (dancer) who was dancing for Madchild (at the time his group was called What The Hell) and Madchild came down to a trade show in San Diego that I was working at with my clothing distribution company and he introduced us. I then kept seeing Rob at these parties I was always throwing as he would be dancing up a storm. When I committed to a weekly club night I knew I needed help and liked Rob’s vibe and we have been partners ever since, for over 20 years.
Why did you decide to start Fortune Sound Club together?
Rizk: At the time we had been partners for close to 15 years. Promoting our events but at other peoples venues. This was our chance to build our own club and focus on the things that matter to us.
Gman: Rob heard that a license had become available and asked me if we should finally do our own thing. We decided to go for it because we had been part of building the Vancouver scene for so long and just felt that we had some ideas of our own that we wanted to try.
Rizk: Quality of sound was my main priority. At one point I told Gman that I would not do this project if the sound system was not a Funktion One Sound System. This really set us apart from every other club and venue.
What was the original vision you had for Fortune Sound Club? What genres of music were you aiming to accommodate? How has Fortune changed over the past 5 years?
Gman: The original vision for Fortune was to create a space that was based on the quality of music and sound; to give our guests as much of that house party feel as we could.
Rizk: We wanted to play all genres of music. We are both very open minded people when it comes to music and the arts.
Gman: The idea was to create a space that was not just a club, but a venue that was a creative outlet for art, fashion, music and the community. Fortune has remained true to its original ideals while adapting to evolving music and trends.
Rizk: I would not call it change but just improved in the way we do business. Night clubs and younger generations are constantly changing in the way they celebrate, dance and listen to music. It’s up to us not only to be aware of it but to adapt quickly and adjust to changing times.
Have there been any snags along the way?
Rizk: Too many to name or mention but we like to focus on the solution and not worry too much about snags because that’s just wasted energy in the wrong direction.
Gman: Owning a venue is super hard. Every day is a grind and you get what you put into it. Nothing is easy when you have a venue from bookings, promoting and just keeping hot especially after 5 years. We really care about our scene though and have been doing this for over 20 years so we are not going anywhere and will continue to work hard at it.
Rizk: Plus snags are opportunities to improve and constantly be challenged.
What are a some of the biggest highlights of the last 5 years?
Gman: So many good times and memories. Overall just being hang with friends and see awesome shows. We’ve had acts that were small at the time then blew up like Wiz Khalifa, Grimes, Mac Miller. Then there’s legends like the Wu-Tang Clan, Eve, Lil Kim, Rakim, EPMD, KRS-One etc. Then just people that have come to hang out like Jay-Z, Drake, Big Boi, Gorillaz, Tony Hawk, etc. So many to name really.
What are the top 5 biggest acts you’ve had on your stage?
Rizk: For me, my top 5 in no particular order are:
Gman: And for me:
STWO, POMO and TOMMY KRUISE
How has Fortune impacted the Vancouver music scene and entertainment industry?
Gman: Well, we contribute to Vancouver’s music scene by bringing cool stuff to the city. There are acts that maybe would not have come if we didn’t reach out. You have to take chances in this game. Fortune is a not just a club. It’s a community space that’s versatile.
Rizk: I feel we helped raised the bar on all levels, in terms of how we run Fortune. We are owners that are actively in the music and entertainment scene. I come from a Hip Hop background. I B-boyed for many years, I currently DJ and have been for over 13 years. We just always did what we loved at Fortune and that’s the impact we have had.
Fortune is one of the most popular live music venues in Vancouver. What is the reason behind its considerable success?
Rizk: I think our success comes from always being open to working with others in the community. It has always been a team effort.
Gman: We also host diverse crowds because we’re open-minded about music. We cater to punk rock, metal, indie, Hip Hop, electronic, RnB or any genre, for that matter. We focus on creating a warm vibe and booking great talent. Plus having a great sound system is pretty key.
What other projects do either of you have on the go right now other than Fortune?
Gman: We just bought the building last year so right now we’re looking to add something to the retail spot we have. Livestock, the retail business we co-own with Gary Bones, just opened a new location underneath Fortune a couple months ago. We are open to ideas, partners, collaborations or maybe if the idea is good enough…somebody to just lease the space. It could be a restaurant, but we would like it to be something that the city needs. A possible game changer.
Rizk: We are also thinking about renovating our 2nd floor project space to accommodate more of the cool and awesome things we do in there like art shows, photography, private parties, and much more.
In your opinion, what is the value of live music within modern society and the age of electronic media?
Gman: Music is music. When I listen to music and love certain stuff, I’m not asking myself if it was live or electronic. It just has to be good.
Rizk: There is enough room for every kind of music in this modern society. And the great thing is that we can easily access music through technology or in person by seeing the artist and hearing their music during a live show. It just depends on how you want to experience it.