Meet Noah Laniakea, a bassist who followed an interesting path in his musical journey. Noah picked up the bass in elementary school, continuing through high school. Then he found a bass teacher, who turned him on to Edgar Meyer. That game changing moment put him on a whole different path.
Noah is this week’s No Treble reader in the spotlight. Here’s his story…
I grew up in a fairly musically neutral household: my mom was an amateur recorder/pennywhistle player, my dad played bass guitar way back in the day, and my older brother played guitar in his band. I grew up listening to a lot of music, but more than that I read a lot. I wanted to be a writer growing up and to create my own stories and worlds. Being a musician wasn’t really even in the picture, I just played in my school orchestra. I took a bass lesson as a senior in high school and my life changed: I needed to be a bassist. I went to college for bass, then grad school for bass, committing entirely to being a composer and performer, using music to get the same satisfaction of storytelling I would as a writer.
Cupertino, CA, United States
Has been formally studying the bass for nine years
Bands & Gigs:
I am currently engaged in The Mountain & The Moon, a banjo and bass duo that plays classical/bluegrass/folk hybrid music. We have recently released our debut EP The Mountain & The Moon, available on Bandcamp, and are gigging as a duo across California. I also take freelance gigs where I can, filling in on other projects and bands when they need a bass player of a different kind.
- Unnamed German flatback bass, about 100 years old.
- Eastman German bow
- Fishman Pro-BP 100B
Why I play the bass:
My elementary school had a music program, which included an orchestra and a band. My mom strongly suggested that I join one of the ensembles and learn an instrument, so I picked the bass. It was a fairly logical decision, in that I was a big kid who wanted to play the big instrument. I “played it” until I was a senior in high school, when a new bass teacher moved to town. I took a lesson, wanting to learn how to play up high on the bass, and I was blown away but what could be done. My teacher then sealed the deal by telling me to listen to Edgar Meyer. I popped in Work in Progress, heard “Great Green Sea Snake”, and I knew what my life needed to be.
My bass superpower/claim to fame:
I’d like to think the thing that sets me apart from a lot of bassists is having a very different sound and ensemble concept. Maybe I was a frustrated violinist or cellist in another life, but I see the bass as a quick, lean, and fast instrument capable of soaring to stratospheric heights and abyssal lows. Equally at home solo, in small groups, or a big band, the bass can adapt to any role and situation provided the performer has the technique to back it up. Means I have to practice an awful lot!
Edgar Meyer, Paul Kowert, Chris Hanulik, Peter Lloyd, Jaco Pastorius…