MUSICIAN OF THE MONTH: LUKAS PEARSE


What better way to kick of a new year than getting to know a new Musician of the Month? We know you’ll be as excited as we are to learn more about bassist and composer Lukas Pearse.

Lukas Pearse is a bassist was born, raised and lives in central Halifax Nova Scotia, with his wife Melissa Andrew (also a bassist in the PEI Symphony), their children Zella and Lila, and two rambunctious cats. Primarily a bassist, he works with music, sound, and technology in many ways, as a composer, sound designer and Foley artist, as well as exploring light art and interactive video performance. Improvising, composing, performing, recording, programming, and editing sound in diverse contexts, a wide variety of musicians, filmmakers, visual artists and dancers continue to collaborate with Lukas Pearse.

Starting by volunteering and working as music and production director at CKDU-FM, Lukas was a  fixture of the indie scene in Halifax since the late 1980s. He studied intermedia and sound art at NSCAD in the 80s and early 90s. Lukas did not study music in school, instead focusing seriously on visual art, but took private guitar and bass guitar lessons, notably with Daniel Heikalo, who pivotally convinced him to go in 1987 to one of Jerry Granelli’s first workshops in Halifax.  After nearly a decade of playing electric bass by ear professionally in indie rock bands, notably Rebecca West, where his techniques of bowing the electric bass with serrated steak knives got him interested in contemporary classical and improvised music, Lukas took a year off touring to teach ESL in South Korea where he taught himself how to read music.  Attending Dalhousie University Music as an adult student, having never touched a double bass, he committed to learning classical double bass under Max Kasper so as to be able to master bowing as a improvisor, as an extension of his own steak knife chops.  In his first year at Dal, he attended Upstream’s inaugural Open Waters Festival and was quickly convinced that it was possible to explore improvised, classical music, jazz and electronic music all at the same time, even in Halifax.

This resulted in a degree in Contemporary Double Bass Performance from Dalhousie, and Contemporary Music Studies and Electroacoustic music at Goldsmiths College, University of London, with private bass improvisation studies in Ireland with Barry Guy, and electroacoustic studies including at STEIM in Amsterdam and at SARC in Belfast, where he met with Karleinz Stockhausen.

He is now Artistic Director of Upstream Music Association, an instructor at the NSCAD University Film Academy and longtime affiliate of the artist-run Centre for Art Tapes.  


1.What is your idea of perfect happiness? Perfect happiness is the fulcrum between accomplishment and opportunity.

2. What recording would you take to a desert island? I would take a sound recorded to a desert island before I would take a given recording. But if I had to take a single record, it would probably be Willie Nelson’s Stardust because I spent so many happy times as a child listening to his magical vocal phrasing and elegantly simple guitar solos.

3. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? People may be surprised how I solved the problem of at least one too many plastic recorders in my elementary school by way of a sewer drain pipe…

4. Any place in the world you have not yet visited, but would like to? It’s outrageous that I have not yet been to Iceland.

5. What/where is your favourite thing to eat? Hot sauce! All of the spicy sauces! Hot peppers!

6. Which performer (dead or alive) would you most like to share a meal with, and what would you like to eat with them? I would like to dine with the (living) classical and bluegrass double bass virtuoso and composer Edger Meyer. We would enjoy Digby scallops, PEI new potatoes, maple carrots and habanero pepper reduction.

7. Do you have a favourite recipe, and would you share it with us? I love to cook, but these days only rarely consult recipes. I used to work in cafe kitchens as a cook, and while I liked it more or less, the repetition bored me. So now I usually approach cooking as an informed improvisor! The Tassjara Cookbook has been part of my life as long as I can remember… But I really rarely follow it. I read it to understand the principles, then start exploring what available ingredients can do, usually within the parameter of gluten-free vegetarian ingredients.


You can follow Lukas’ work through his website and via Upstream Music.

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