Geography student hopes to spark conservation discussions through filmmaking and music

Fourth-year UBC student Luke Wallace is using music and film to raise awareness about the conservation of British Columbia’s coastlines.

His second album, The Kitimat LP, was released on December 16 and the musician celebrated with a show at the Fox Cabaret the same night. It is the soundtrack to the documentary One Big Coast that Wallace filmed over the summer of 2014 in Kitimat, B.C. The documentary will be released in January and was edited by Wallace and his friend Ali Harris. Both the album and the documentary focus on the Kitimat coastline.

Wallace began writing the album in November of 2013, and took approximately one year to finish it. A few songs were recently played on CBC radio over the winter break, though Wallace said he was unsure how CBC got a hold of his music.

“Right now they’re just playing my stuff because they heard it somewhere and they like it I guess, which is pretty awesome,” said Wallace.

As an environmental geography major and a researcher for UBC, Wallace says he knew whatever he was going to do with his life would involve conservation. Born and raised in Vancouver, he spent a lot of time hiking and camping in the outdoors, which he said strongly shaped who he is today. Additionally, he is able to incorporate what he’s learned into his songs.

“I think that my writing wouldn’t be what it is and my songs wouldn’t be what they are without constantly learning new things about the planet and the way that our society interacts with it,” he said.

He first started playing music at 15, and now plays guitar, banjo and harmonica, among other instruments. His first EP, From the Ground Up, was released in October of 2013, but the two albums are very different.

“They’re like night and day. The ideas in From the Ground Up loosely carry over to the Kitimat LP, but Kitimat is a lot more direct and purposeful. I think through maturity and writing experience, I was able to refine what I’m trying to say.”

He decided to film the documentary, which is supported by UBC Common Energy, as a way to connect people across the province, and to use multiple arts forms in order to deepen his argument.

“What I couldn’t say through music, I was able to say through this film in visual footage,” said Wallace.

He hopes that once people have seen the film and listened to the music they will be inspired to get involved in the discussion around the conservation of British Columbia’s coastlines. Over the next few months, there are plans for multiple screenings of the documentary and live shows throughout the province. Wallace is also speaking with the Vancouver School Board to discuss the possibility of screenings at high schools.

“I don’t think I will ever accomplish my grandest goal … to inspire every human being in the world to take better care of the planet. However, I have accomplished more than I would have ever thought I was capable of in music and film.”