Profile: Jasper Leak, Musician

Jasper’s Pie

Occupation: Musician.

Aussie Hometown: Sydney

U.S. Digs: Lower East Side.

Visa type: 0-1

Current Project:

I just joined Sia’s band, which has been really exciting. I’m always trying to stay busy with my own material as well, where I write and collaborate with other local musicians, producers, singers, rappers, songwriters, etc.

When did you move to the U.S.?

I moved to the U.S. in Jan., 2005.

What’s your story on getting to and living in the U.S.?

Originally, the plan was just to come for a quick, three-month trip to test the waters and get inspired, but I got really lucky. A fellow bassist and friend called Calvin Turner, originally from New Orleans, hooked me up with an audition for Marc Broussard’s band, which I manage to land. The good people at his management company hooked me up with a visa, and I was fortunate enough to play shows with Marc and the band across the country. We toured with Citizen Cope and David Ryan Harris (from LA), who plays with John Mayer. It was a really eye- and ear-opening experience, and gave me a huge push to practice hard. The experience also did wonders for my Jägermeister drinking abilities.

What are your creative inspirations?

Living in New York, you’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to music. On any given night, you can hear such a diverse mix of stuff. I’ve seen some great shows, which always do manage to inspire. I also studied at the New School University for a couple of years, where I was fortunate enough to get some lessons with some real jazz legends like Buster Williams, who played with Miles Davis, and Reggie Workman, who played with John Coltrane. New York itself deserves a mention inspiration-wise. There’s an undeniable energy that hits me whenever I land that never fails to put the lead in my pencil, so to speak.

What’s your favourite city in the U.S.?

New York is my favourite city in the States. It feels like home these days and it’s where I have my girlfriend, our dog and a solid little base of favourite spots and tight friends.

What’s your favourite restaurant or spot in NYC?

There’s so much awesome food near where I live on the Lower East Side. I love the spots I can walk to. For example, Bacaro on Division St. is mental, Bariochino for Mexican, a new coffee spot on East Broadway called Dora does a mean cup of Stumptown, Cafe Katja on Orchard is where I go to get my fix of Austro-German sausage, Lasso for Pizza and a little spot called Local on Sullivan St in Soho is another personal favourite.

What are three great/interesting towns in the U.S. that you have come across when touring?

There are so many incredible cities in the States that it’s hard to say which are my favourites, because the ones that stick out are the ones I’ve personally managed to have the most fun in.

– I’ve always had a blast in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s so beautiful down there, and if you surf, you can actually get some waves around there at the beaches. The people down south are known for their hospitality, and I’ve made some good friends down there.

– Flagstaff, AZ, is super-funky and has a real alternative kinda vibe which I like. Bit of a hippie town and very different from other cities in Arizona.

– Always had a blast in California, but the third spot might have to go to Portland, Oregon. Oregon is such a beautiful state, and Portland is like a city somewhere between Melbourne and Williamsburg [in Australia]. A lot of musicians are moving over there because there is a strong music scene, from what I’ve heard, and rent isn’t as astronomical as in New York.

When you’re not working what can you be found doing?

When I’m home, it’s the regular stuff. I love like hanging back with my girlfriend, Cerelina, and our dog, Billie, and enjoying nights off/time at home. We’ve been getting big in to TV series lately. We just knocked 5 seasons of “The Wire” on the head in a couple of months…maybe that’s some kind of a record. I also love getting caffeinated at Bluebird on 1st St and 1st Ave and taking Billie up to the Tompkins Square Park dog run, and when there’s some swell, I surf out at Rockaway. It’s a far cry from the beaches of New South Wales but it can get good especially around cyclone season.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully, a little bit wiser, a little bit more travelled, a little bit more accomplished and with a lot bit more money in the bank.

Do you have a favourite quote?

“Live every week like it’s Shark Week.”

Or maybe, “I used to do drugs….I still do, but I used to, too.” That’s a Mitch Hedberg classic.

Do you have a mentor or hero?

Clark Terry. Clark’s one of the best jazz trumpeters and flugelhorn players ever. He’s an amazing man, teacher and public figure and I feel lucky to have gotten to know him over the past few years.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

If you listen to the other musicians on stage hard enough, you’ll never have to think about what to play.

Do you have a good joke?

What do you call a jazz bassoonist with a business card? An optimist.

Jasper’s Sauce – a few fellow Swagmen

Dan Askill – director: He splits his time between NYC and Sydney, and is always doing cutting edge stuff for his company, Collider. He has a unique perspective that’s undeniable. Seeing him (and his brothers Jordy and Lorin) doing such good work so consistently is very inspiring.

Will Davidson – fashion photographer: I’ve recently become friendly with Will, and his work seems to be everywhere now. He’s a sweetheart of a guy and very focused.

Nick Barber & Alex Bond – architects: They are two of my fave people on the planet. Their work is super stylised, and it’s great to see them doing so well and keeping so busy. They recently tricked out a new hotel in Panama that I’m determined to visit soon!

Sia Furler – musician: She is a constant source of inspiration and a phenomenal singer, writer, human. I remember seeing her play at Terminal 5 earlier last year and thinking how much I’d love to be in a situation like that one day. Now I am and so happy to be sharing it with her and her badass band.

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