The K Hole: Kyiv’s first record store for harder electronic music

Kyiv’s club and rave scene is currently one of the most electrifying scenes out there. However there’s a scarcity in record shops and it’s expensive for local DJs to ship records from other countries. The record shops present, rarely represent genres within harder electronic music. That’s something Beth Alana (23) is changing with the opening of her store ‘The K Hole’. The shop is Kyiv’s first record store for harder, faster and juicier electronic music. We meet in her shop to talk about moving from Berlin to Kyiv, about why vinyl is so expensive when you live in Ukraine, about her mission to make records more accessible to the local scene, and about building bridges with scenes internationally.

Up for a new adventure, Beth Alana (23) moved to Kyiv from Berlin in the beginning of 2020. ‘I had never been to Ukraine before,’ Beth says, ‘there were a lot of whispers on the scene about Kyiv. Then one day I just kind of decided that I was going to leave Berlin. I sold everything from my apartment, packed my records, my DJ equipment and my dog and flew here.’

As a vinyl DJ, Beth was disappointed to find out there was a lack of record shops focussing on harder electronic music. ‘It was heartbreaking moving here and finding out that most records are not from now. If you want to buy records of 140 BPM and faster, you have to go to another country or order them online. That’s a problem, because you have to pay taxes and shipping costs. Normally a record is between 10 to 15 euros. To get them to Kyiv, a record will cost you 30 euros. After a while, this adds up and people here can’t afford that. It makes DJing inaccessible to local talent, it’s very expensive to be a ‘vinyl only’ DJ here.’

‘A shame, because there’s a lot of people who enjoy these records and want to buy them locally. When I spoke to DJs at Kyrylivska (club ∄) and club Arsenal XXII they told me how they always brought records from abroad. At home, when I was spinning, DJs and friends often asked me where I got my records, which I brought from abroad as well. I felt there was a need for a place where DJs can dig for records locally.’

Beth then decided to give everything to set up Kyiv’s first record store for harder electronic music. On November 12, she officially opened her store and named it ‘The K Hole’. A name that has a special memory to Beth. ‘I used to run these illegal raves in Berlin called Kanvas. We organized them in basements and used to joke about them being K Holes, as they were often dark spaces. The music we’d play was hard and fast. When I found the new spot for my record store in Kyiv, it turned out to be in a basement as well. Then selling these fast and hard records here, it reminded me of my times at Kanvas. So I decided to name my record store after it. Fun fact: a lot of people asked me what the K means. Is it K for Kyiv? They even asked me if K was for Kyrylivska (the club street with amongst others Collider, Keller, and K41) or if it really stands for being in a K Hole. But I keep telling people it can be whatever interpretation.’

The K Hole is located in the art and club district of Podil on Nyzhnii Val St. 37. The shop is part of a creative hub called ‘Vyrobnyky Mriy place’ (Dreamers place). The creative complex located in a basement has a DJ studio, record store, a costume workshop, a two room pottery workshop, a bar and a clothing shop. It’s a meeting and hangout space for people within Kyiv’s creative scene. 

With her shop, Beth wants to focus on bringing back vinyl music and making it accessible to both Ukrainian DJs and DJs visiting from abroad. ‘I’m going to try to keep my records as cheap as I can by getting records shipped in bulk from other countries. I want to do specialized and focussed direction of music in the store, so a lot of records that we’re buying we’re listening to first ourselves before we’re selling them. This way, we know the music we’re selling in the store. I’m specialized in techno, hardcore, drumnbass, this juicy, fast and heavy stuff. The benefit of our store is that we have gear so people can immediately test the records they find.’

Her aim for the record shop is to become a central point, meet and hangout for DJs within Kyiv’s scene but also internationally. ‘I would like for The K Hole to be a platform that displays Ukrainian talent. We also want to focus on building bridges with other scenes, with labels, between DJs. To feel like they have a connection with the city.’

Looking at the future, Beth has big plans. She’s currently moving forward with her career as a DJ, and has other big plans in Kyiv she can not yet name. As for the store, Beth is not sure if she will keep her record shop forever. ‘Eventually I’d like to give it to someone who is from Kyiv. I’m opening up the store not for me, but for the city. I probably won’t get much out of it, barely a wage, but it’s my dream job. I guess I am more of a conceptual person, I enjoy starting ideas and watching them run.’ 

When asked about a record that reminds her of Kyiv, Beth has one favorite that always reminds her of the time spent in the city.