Erik Arnesen has been active in the music community for over 15 years, playing a principle role in Canada’s celebrated folk/rock band, Great Lake Swimmers and Constellation recording artists, Siskiyou

As banjo/lead guitar player for Great Lake Swimmers, Erik has participated in the recording of 6 full-length albums.  The most recent album, The Waves, The Wake, was released in August 2018. New Wild Everywhere, the previous album, was nominated for a 2013 Juno Award for Best Folk/Roots Recording.  Previously, Lost Channels was nominated for both a 2009 Polaris Music Prize and 2010 Juno Award (Folk/Roots Group).  Lost Channels was awarded Best Folk Album at the 2010 Indie Awards @ CMW, Toronto.  He has toured extensively in North America, the UK, Europe and Asia.  When not on the road with Great Lake Swimmers, Erik contributes to other musical projects in the studio and as a live/touring member.  Most notably, Basia Bulat’s, Heart of My Own which was long listed for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize.

He is a founding member of west coast based band Siskiyou.  The Montreal based label, Constellation, has released all 3 critically acclaimed Siskiyou records, Siskiyou, Keep Away the Dead and Nervous. The latest release, Nervous, was long-listed for the 2015 Polaris Music Prize.

Music by both Great Lake Swimmers and Siskiyou have been featured in film and television, most notably PrimeTime’s Weeds, American Idol and Stefan Sagmeister’s documentary, The Happiness Project. Additionally, Erik has composed music for PSA’s, short films and theatre.



Career highlights include –

  • Nationally televised performance for the 2010 Juno Awards
  • Feature concerts at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games
  • Performance with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss at Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre in 2008
  • Frequent appearances on NPRCBC and BBC live broadcasts

Recording Credits

Great Lake Swimmers

  • The Waves, The Wake (2018)
  • A Forest of Arms (2015)
  • New Wild Everywhere (2012) **
  • Lost Channels (2009) *
  • Ongiara (2007)
  • Bodies and Minds (2005)
  • Song Sung Blue (Score – 2008)
  • Hands in Dirty Ground EP (2006)
  • Borrowed Tunes: Tribute to Neil Young (Don’t Cry No Tears) (2008)
  • Mamma Yamma CBC Kids Live (Compilation – 2008)


  • Not Somewhere (2019)
  • Nervous (2015) ****
  • Siskiyou (2009)
  • Keep Away the Dead (2010)

Basia Bulat

  • Heart of my Own (2009) ***

Film/Television Credits

Canadian Strain (2019)