Lyft’s guide to the transportation revolution

Meet Your Driver: Karl L

Karl L - Aug 28, 2023
Meet Your Driver: Karl
Illustration by María Jesús Contreras

I learned to play bass in high school in San Francisco, and I ended up opening for bands like the Dead Kennedys. I moved to Los Angeles, then London, England, where I worked as a touring bass player. Initially, to survive over there I also worked in construction, and I got good at it. This led to me building recording studios. Soon after, I got a job at Rough Trade, which released notable groups like Depeche Mode, The Smiths, and Sonic Youth for European distribution.

I ended up living over there for about 15 years, and meeting my wife there before we moved back to L.A. in 2000.  

In L.A. I ran a studio in Venice Beach, and I worked with various artists and labels, helping to develop bands and acts. And that turned into work as a composer on some film soundtracks, Twilight being one of them. The first Twilight film had the biggest-selling soundtrack that year, and it was also one of the last before the whole model for music sales changed to online.

My music career got sidetracked in May 2013 when my wife of 16 years passed away. My life changed, and I had to do something different. A friend suggested Lyft. The main draw was that I was able to create my own schedule. And it got me out of the house! As a musician, there are always events going on. But I just wasn’t in the mood after my wife’s passing. Driving, I actually made new friends. 

You meet a lot of interesting people. I met the journalist Denver Nicks while driving. I was taking him to the airport and telling him a story about the time I was running a studio for the singer from Jane’s Addiction, Perry Farrell, who had the craziest, hottest hot sauce you could take. They called it Dave’s Insanity Sauce. So we’d do competitions, like a shot of that with tequila or whatever. And I like hot sauce, but whoa! I thought my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head. But I won the competition. And that’s what I told Denver Nicks. And he kept my number. The second chapter in his book, Hot Sauce Nation, is called “Some Like It Hot,” and it’s about my wife and me bonding over hot sauce. 

Today, I still have a studio in Studio City. I teach music, art, and animation in after-school programs for elementary students, sort of like School of Rock. And I’m still driving with Lyft, still meeting interesting people.