Updated: Dec 4, 2020
By Mark Allard-Will
*Felipe backpacking in the NWT
Music is a binding force, bringing people together across cultures, languages and nationalities, this was no different for Felipe Gomez. Felipe, a Chilean by birth, found music in the fashion that’s typical to us in Canada, the UK or the US; by falling in with circles of friends who gravitated toward musical instruments during high school. “I think I started like everyone else, just like when you’re in high school and your friends are playing guitar and you want to hang out with them, so you end up playing guitar as well”, said Felipe of discovering music during those coming-of-age years, “seeing the older kids playing guitar and you’re like “okay, that’s kind of cool, I want to do that””.
Little did a teenaged Felipe know that this experience of being awed by the communal experience of music would set him not only on a path that would bring him to Saskatchewan, but would see him travel Canada by bicycle, teach music to Canadian youth, work with a band to produce his own Prog-cum-Folk music and find his dream dayjob as the Social Media Manager of Saskatchewan’s very own Bass manufacturer, Dingwall Guitars.
Felipe, known to local music fans as Felipe the Bass Invader, found a home that encouraged him to chase his musical aspirations in Saskatoon; where, after arriving fresh from Chile in 2011, he would soon set to task finding a band of Canadian musicians to help produce his second solo project album. The band in-question, known as The Bass Invaders, have published a full-length album that can be found on Bandcamp. This is an album where Felipe, as a Bassist, leads the auditory landscape of the band’s sound and it’s as unique as one would imagine. It’s the invert of traditional Rock, where Bass is usually reserved as merely the timing backbone of the sound that compliments the drummer. Here, however, other instruments ranging from traditional Rock drums to Spanish Guitar and even vocals provide the backbone that compliments the mind-bending Bass mastery on offer from Felipe himself, a mastery that’s hard to pin down between Prog and even sounds reminiscent of traditional Latin music.
For Felipe, who mastered his English after having made the move to Canada as an adult, music was a way to discover the community of Saskatoon, make friends and practice his English. “That’s the way I made friends when I moved here to Canada, through music, right? I didn’t speak really good English then [so making friends through music helped]”.
Even during his formative experiences of Canada, Felipe was moonlighting as a musician. “I was teaching Kindergarten in Saskatoon, so I lived this life of playing a Kindergarten teacher during the day and at night I tried to be a rockstar, right? It was like a cool dichotomy.”
And those early days of Kindergarten teaching by day and music production by night lead Felipe toward a deeper exploration of music. “People started reaching out to me, [asking me] if I wanted to jam with them, play in their band and I end (sic) up releasing my second album through The Bass Invaders here in Canada and I did it with Canadian musicians”.
This deeper relationship with music in Canada saw Felipe, an avid cyclist, bikepack across Canada. Bikepacking, for those not in the know, is the experience of packing saddlebags onto a bike for a cycling journey that often involves camping. The difference here is that Felipe had a large electric Bass strapped to his back too. These journeys would see Felipe arrive in communities as remote as Yellowknife, where he’d invariably guest teach a music class to local school children. When asked what the most beautiful part of Canada he saw by bike was, Felipe said: “It’s a tough one, but in my mind it’s always the arctic. When I was in the high arctic, I thought that was super cool, because - I don’t know if it’s the most beautiful - but to me it was a lifelong dream to see the arctic”. However, Felipe freely admits that the arctic is no cakewalk: “It’s a tough environment, I mean you can see that to live there you’ve got to be a tough person.”
In 2018, after the better part of a decade in Canada, Felipe found his dream job, working as the Social Media Manager for Saskatoon’s Dingwall Guitars. As a master of knowing how to market himself, Felipe had previously secured endorsements for his career with amp manufacturer Bergantino Audio Systems and Dingwall themselves, so it became the logical choice for Dingwall to choose Felipe to aid in their marketing. Speaking of what it’s like to work with a Saskatchewan born and bred Bass company, Felipe said: “It’s truly awesome, man, because it’s like having a world class Ferrari factory in town. Most people in the world, they don’t really think about Saskatoon, they think about Dingwall, right? I’m working with the Ferrari or Lamborghini of Bass Guitar, that’s the way they see it around the world.” World class is right too, as Dingwall Guitars finds its star endorsees in musicians ranging from Rob van der Loo of Epica, Leland Sklar a session musician who has recorded with the likes of Toto and Phil Collins, Kyle Konkiel of Bad Wolves, to name but a few.
In a Saskatchewan music scene, littered with Doom Rock bands, garage bands, Country music and big band Jazz cover acts, Felipe - who became a Canadian citizen earlier in 2020 - stands out as one in a million. But, what was it that made Felipe settle on Saskatoon as his adoptive home? “I come from a big city, right? I come from Santiago, a city of seven-million, where you have to commute to go to work, so I was done with that kind of life and Saskatoon you have everything you need; you have awesome people, you have awesome parks and you don’t have to go on a subway.”
Felipe’s Canadian made album can be found here. Felipe the Bass Invader can be found on Facebook here and Dingwall Guitars can be found online at dingwallguitars.com, as well as on most social media platforms.
*Felipe with his band The Bass invaders