Never too late to find a new subplot in life
It happens to a lot of us: having to stifle our creative sides in order to reap the rewards of the so-called “professional life,” our careers can get in the way of some of our more artistic desires.
That didn’t stop Arun Lakra, a 43-year-old eye surgeon who has just released his first album, under the name Subplot A. He had always been interested in songwriting, but Lakra’s musical abilities, he admits, made him less than qualified to abandon his surgical gloves for a life of coffeehouses and music clubs.
“I’m a songwriter, but I have, shall we say, limited talents,” laughs Lakra. “I have some musical knowledge, and I even took some piano training at Mount Royal back in the day, but not enough to call myself a musician. I can’t sing, I can’t play most instruments, and I can’t keep a beat!”
With a wealth of songs and no means with which to play them, Lakra’s solution was simple: “I know a bunch of people who are more musically inclined than myself, and so I decided to just bring in people who could execute my vision.”
Thus, a “virtual band” was born, with Lakra overseeing the direction and instructing the various players as he saw fit.
“It started out really casually, something I was just doing for fun,” says Lakra. “Then over time, it progressed to the point where I thought, ‘If I’m going to do this, I might as well do it right and release a full album, and get my songs out there.’”
So far, Lakra has even had some success with his musical endeavours. A song he wrote to rally support for the Flames during their 2004 Stanley Cup journey, “Hey There Iginla,” reached No. 1 on YouTube in Canada with 130,000 views. Another topical song, the pro-Pluto track “Pluto Rocks,” gained international media attention during the controversy surrounding the little planet’s downsizing to moon status. (Sample line: “So smart and so smug/So proudly pedantic/Can’t you be a scientist/And still a romantic?”)
Despite the attention his virtual band is getting, Lakra takes it all in stride, and still treats his musical project as just another side of his personality.
“When I was in med school, I started to realize that I couldn’t suppress my creative side,” says Lakra. “I’ve always been into writing, and I’ve written a screenplay that’s being optioned around at the moment, and I’ve been writing songs for a long time. I’m always thinking about writing and expressing myself, and how I can best do that. When something pops into my head that I know I have to get out, I always think about whether it can work best as a script, or a song, or a poem, or whatever. There are many different ways to get something out that can’t be expressed simply through talking.
“I just love the process, the creative process, so much. I always have, I always will. And I’m grateful that I’m able to create art in all these different forms. It’s very satisfying to me.”
With such a passionate yet carefree approach to his music, the possibilities are varied and vast for Lakra and his Subplot A project. Because he’s always writing songs, another album “is possible” in the near future. As for the other main aspect of being a musician – that is, performing live – Lakra is a little more wary, yet not completely against the idea either.
“I’m open to it, although it would mean actually putting together a ‘real’ band in order to do that,” says Lakra. “Plus, I’m not sure how I would hold up as a live performer, and to what extent I would be involved. But it would be cool, although I would have devote the necessary time to it, and that could be a challenge!”
Keeping with the easy-going and fun nature of Subplot A, Lakra will be hosting his CD release party at Lloyd’s Roller Rink on Jan. 26. The $12 admission includes a copy of Tragic Romantic Mocku Fantasy, as well as roller-skating and pizza.