ALEX LUKASHEVSKY with JENNIFER CASTLE and ERIC CHENAUX at Club Trinport (249 Ossington), Thursday (April 6). $5. 416-516-6004. And at the NOW Lounge (189 Church), Sunday (April 9). $6. 416-364-1301. Rating: NNNNN
Self-promotion is a dirty business for musicians like Alex Lukashevsky. The songwriter/soloist accepts in good faith the obligations involved in expanding his audience, but that doesn't mean he enjoys the process.
Lukashevsky is the ultimate "show, don't tell" player. It's not that he's protecting a sacred image of his music's purism; he gives meticulously worded responses to questions. He's just trying to avoid projecting anything beyond his pen, voice and guitar.
"It's an aggressive world out there, and people want to twist you up into something you don't want to be," warns Lukashevsky while picking at his roti platter. "I want my dignity, you know? More than anything. There are way too many people ready to throw their dignity out the window. I'm scared of that whole side of things."
You'd assume that Lukashevsky wants the starkly composed 11 songs on his new album, Connexions (North East Indie), do all the talking for him. You know, "Everything I have to say is in the music." Not quite, in Lukashevsky's case. As it turns out, even the recording sessions that captured his immediate, folky blues mix carried their own freight of possible misrepresentation.
"Recording is such a tough process. Some people embrace it, but I think that's fucked. You're making a version of yourself that you're going to teleport into the world, which is a fucked up and surreal thing," explains Lukashevsky. "It's oppressive, crazy, and it messes with your mind. I wish live music informed an audience to a greater degree than recorded music."
When prodded about whether he at least enjoys some artistic satisfaction from the record's completion. Lukashevsky allows himself a small dose of contentment.
"Yeah, you know, I like it," he offers, half-convincingly. "It's growing on me, for sure."
Even if Lukashevsky is reluctant to flog his talents, there are plenty of Toronto musicians willing to wave a flag on his account. Broken Social Scenester Kevin Drew offers gushing praise, as do a plethora of avant-garde players who frequently share open stages with Lukashevsky at the Tranzac, a non-profit club known for its unwavering dedication to venue-less musicians.
After becoming a fixture in Tranzac's cozy living-room style Bohemia, Lukashevsky formed Deep Dark United with some regulars on the club's jazzist, improv-jam circuit. Six-years and a few personnel changes later, DDU have just recently dropped their third effort, Ancient (Blocks), which they're repping at a Wavelength showcase next week. It's a project that Lukashevsky appears more comfortable showing affection for.
"We've become truly a band," beams Lukashevsky proudly. "People have come and gone, but now there's a lineup that I love, and I feel that if anybody left there'd be no more Deep Dark United. So it wasn't like I really needed to express myself away from them. Connexions isn't one of those 'a solo record by the guy from that band' type things."
Perhaps, but only one person will be onstage performing at Lukashevsky's CD release. This doesn't bother him; if Connexions does in fact connect, a brighter spotlight and bigger rooms to play are prospects he addresses with uncharacteristic zeal.
"I'll probably have to learn, or relearn, how to play in a big room," he says. "I'm not used to it right now; with Deep Dark maybe a little more. But for me solo, to have my acoustic and voice pumped out away from me at such a large capacity, I'm sure I can get used to it."