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Gillian Dorella | Manager, Sunrise Records

This weekend we’re crossing back over the US border to Canada, and Sunrise Records.  Sunrise was founded in Toronto in 1977, originally operating with 9 locations until 2017 when they purchased leases for 70 locations formerly occupied by HMV Canada. Sunrise Records now runs approximately 85 locations across Canada. In one of those locations you can find Gillian Dorella, the Manager of Sunrise Records in Barrie for the past 6.5 years.  She has also been booking bands across Ontario for the past 18 years as a local promoter.

Booking bands and working with touring acts is what Gillian does in her free time.  Her promotion company is called PureGrainPromo Events out of Barrie where she does almost all of her events.

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?

I have always wanted to work at a record store since I was a teenager. Our Burlington Mall had a Sunrise Records that one of my radical friends ran who was named Rob, I would always bug him to hire me. When we moved to Barrie, I thought it was time to get a “big girl job” and started working in a bank which was not for me. My boyfriend told me Sunrise Records was hiring for an assistant manager, and well here I am living the best dream.

What is a day in the life like?

Putting stock out and making people’s days with new releases, and the albums they are looking for that are in stock. Helping pals get exactly what they are looking for when it comes in.

Favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?

This one is hard, I have met so many wonderful people working at this location and everyone who comes in has a special place with me when it comes to our relationships!

In your opinion what has been the coolest thing to come through your shop / thing you had to keep / almost couldn’t put out for sale?

I have a rule of thumb around here and even if it is the coolest thing ever, and I would like it or my staff, we have to put it out first and wait a week or two to make sure our pals coming into the store have first dibs! But Bush came out with a Record Store Day release ‘The Sea of Memories’ and oh man; that was a hard day seeing that baby sell!

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

Nothing, to be honest. Doing what you love makes life so happy that even when it even feels a little hard you remember how much you love what you do.

What has been the craziest experience that has happened at the shop?

Mark from Teenage Head sometimes came into the store when he was in town. He would always ask me why we were always out of Teenage Head; I was like ‘this guy really loves Teenage Head’.  I didn’t recognize him!  Richard, one of my staff, was in one morning and said ‘Dude Mark came in from Teenage Head and showed me a photo!’ Oh man was my face red, and now I always look people up to see what they look like, just encase they are coming into the store!

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing? Any tips + maybe some resources you like.

1. You have to be understanding of pals who come into the store, never be judgmental to any degree.

2. Always make sure you know what you are talking about when it comes to music and releases

3. Google will be your best friend when you are stuck.

4.Make sure you know your in store stock inside and out because your customer base these days are all about fast service.

5. If you have a love for music and you feel that itch, get it!

What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? 

To be honest with our industry I see it getting bigger and bigger every year. I’m really worried about pressing plants getting over worked with all the releases trying to come out on time. What I am excited about is that every year I see new friends getting into records again or starting off a new collection.

Are you a vinyl collector yourself, what drew you to it? 

When I was into the rave scene I started to watch my friends DJ and loved looking through their LPs of tracks and everything they had while mixing at their homes. Honestly, I started off my record collection before I even got a record player, I bought one from downtown Toronto. I  wanted to be a “DJ” but it never happened. I got into promotions in the hardcore metal world and  started buying LPs from local and touring bands I worked with then and now.

Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry? 

My family, when my husband Mitch found out that Sunrise Records was hiring, he said ‘that is your dream follow it’, and as soon as I got the job I quit the bank the next day.  My whole family was very supportive with me following the dream of working in a record store. This location treats me like it’s my own and making people’s day with music really warms the heart!

Anything else you want to share? If not, tell us what you’re listening to: 

My music tastes have really widened in all the years in the music industry, thanks to my friend Chris G. who helped me not just listen to the hard stuff! I am a full on 90s kid Bush, Garbage and Minus the Bear.

Find Gillian: 


Sunrise Records: @sunrise.bayfield

PureGrainPromo Events: @puregrainpromo_events

Facebook: @sunriserecords

Twitter: @sunriserecords

Website: www.sunriserecords.com

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