Behind the piano: Prof. Lacasse

Behind the piano: Prof. Lacasse

Hi there professor! I wrote about your song Lost and found a while back. Lets get to know you a bit better!

What’s your real name? 
Serge Lacasse

How did you come up with your artist name?
Well, I’m an “actual” university professor in music…:) 

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I’m from Canada and live in Levis, clos to Quebec City.

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
That’s an interesting question. I started as a child, but was always playing by ear, by memory… I thus stopped taking lessons because sister Therese (who was teaching me) didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t able to properly read music… Then, when I got 16 I decided to try to get into the piano performance program in college (Quebec’s cegep). I started again my courses with Sister Therese and was actually admitted at the university level. However, I was feeling that I didn’t “deserve” this admission and I decided to study drums instead (which I’m plying since I was 8). But I’ve always played piano and composed for the instrument all these years.

Tell us about how you started playing music. 
The Beatles fault…  When I was 8 I discovered the Beatles and wanted to be Paul. But my best friend at the time, who was older, decided he was Paul and I ended up as Ringo… I started playing drums at 8 which became my main instrument (I’ve played jazz, pop, rock, in studio, on stage with major Canadian acts). 

How long have you been making piano music?
Well, as I mentioned, I’ve started composing music for the piano at 16-17. Actually, one of the pieces featuring on my album, “Debussy’, was written then. But I never played them in public nor recorded them. It is just a couple of years ago that I discovered that the tens of pieces I’ve composed through these years were very similar to the postclassical genre. I then discovered Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds, Joep Beving, but also more “romantic” ones such as South Korean Yiruma. Since then, not only did I started composing new music, but also dig  into my past (because, fortunately, I did record on on dictaphone a lot of these early compositions). What I also discovered was that these musicians had a very similar background that mine: age (I’m 56), but also their wide musical taste and competence: pop, jazz, classical, contemporary music, electronic, etc. As a musicologist, I strongly believe that this is linked to this new “cultural condition”, that is the cultural omnivores: people that distinguish themselves by being equally at ease in many musical traditions, as opposed to earlier generations where artistic quality, or cultural taste, were measured according to their knowledge of strictly classical music. 

Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own or someone else’s? 
Well, there are two; Lost and Found is probably my own favorite and i play it a lot. Bu I also love Max Richter’s Written on the Sky (based on his own On the Nature of Daylight, both featured in his 2014 album The Blue Notebooks).

How long is your shortest song? 
About 1:30… It’s called “Sunny Day”.

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
First and foremost: borders between genres. That said, and as I evoked earlier, many musicians are already working toward breading these rules. For me it’s very similar to what we are witnessing in LGBTQ communities. First, we start by grouping these communities together (as well illustrated by the acronym itself), but then by attempting to radically delete gender distinctions. For example, some researchers have just proposed an AI voice that can’t be characterized as female or male. I believe this is where we are also going in music and in arts in general.

How do you record your music?
I’ve been a record producer for like 30 years. The recording studio is truly my main instruments. I do record at home, but also in our University Laval recording facility, the Laboratoire audionumérique de recherche et de création (LARC). I’ve founded this recording studio and am still heading it.

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I use both. My goal is to get the sound I want, no matter the means.

Anything else you want to share? 
Well, thanks for having invited me Johan, it is a honour!

The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from? 

Contrary to many composers who state that they don’t know their style, or that their music doesn’t belong to a genre (as if they were unique), I am totally aware of all my influences. For example, I use popular music forms (verse-chorus for example) [I’m a popular music musicologist], but also use some film music harmonic textures, etc. So yes, all these songs come from a sort of inner “mixing machine” that assembles elements from different sources: “pure” art doesn’t exist in my opinion.

Thank you for these answers Serge! It was a truly interesting read!

For more information about Serge and his music; please check out these following links:
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