art + music by Alyssa Castillo

Ringlight Sessions: Lions & Acrobats

The six-man band shares how it is to make harmony out of cacophony

Ringlight Sessions: The Neighborhood puts up-and-coming or in-the-moment local artists and musicians in the spotlight—or more accurately, ringlight—to show us what they’ve got. Next up: Lions & Acrobats.

Being in a 6-piece ensemble must have its ups and downs. Take it from Lions & Acrobats who insist that even if they share the same creative wavelengths, they inevitably clash in terms of the direction they want their music to take. This happened prior to discovering the sound of their sophomore album Mundane. “Maganda na every time we clash, we grow,” says guitarist Jim Lopez, who plays the saxophone occasionally. The beauty which underlies every obstacle they encounter is their collective effort to resolve issues before calling it a day. “Hindi pwede umalis ng room hanggang hindi ayos,” he reiterates. Vocalist and songwriter Icoy Rapadas stresses the importance of unanimously seeking common ground: “Lahat kami kailangan mag-agree, or we just scrap the song entirely.”

Since its launch last October, Mundane has reached wide success locally. Drawing in both old fans and new listeners, they also made it to Rogue’s Top 5 Local Albums of 2017. Late last year, they also launched the music video of their biggest hit “Cloud” on local TV. If you haven’t caught a whiff of them yet, here are the acoustic renditions of their original tracks “Bed” and “Whiskey”.

Icoy Rapadas (vocals)
Jim Lopez (guitar)
Ling Lava (guitar)
Andrew Son (guitar)
Oteph Tumambing (bass)
Not In Picture: Pedro Tumibay (drums)

Describe yourself as individual artists.
Jim: For the longest time, gumagawa lang talaga ako ng music for me. Before I present it to the band, I make sure that I like it. If I don’t like it, I’m not going to play it. As an artist, I really write from the heart so whatever I feel or whatever I think is relevant for me, I write it through music. Lahat ng songs na nasulat ko, may meaning for me. It’s not that I’m a perfectionist because you can’t really say what’s perfect in music. But I know what I like.

Icoy: Music has become a really big part of my life. I’ve been doing this since I was in grade school. I’ve never not been in a band since. It’s not just about music and me as an artist, but it has affected me as a person. If music wasn’t around, I would be a very different person–probably a sad person. Music is not just a hobby. It’s also therapy. When you make music, it involves a lot of introspection so it’s a way for me to reflect. Whenever I write songs, it’s me trying to figure out what happened to me at a certain time. When I write it down, that means I’m over it. I can’t write about something that I’m currently feeling. I can only write about it once I’m done with it. So when I finish a song, it’s also me closing a chapter.

Ling: I guess I would describe myself as a growing artist. Personally, when I listen to one recording of LAA or any other musical journeys I’ve been on, I feel like there’s so much more to learn. Even when I think that I’ve matured from before. I feel like the story will never end as well. But the music will tell the story for me.

Andrew: Ever since I was young, I always liked listening to what or how things sound like. When I’m alone I would knock on the wood, I’d play with spoons, metal bars, anything. I kind of differentiate how they sound like. I grew addicted to tone. Being in this band allows me to channel lahat ng weirdness ko and that’s how I contribute to our music. The best part of being an artist is you’ll keep on growing.

Oteph: ‘Di ko alam kung paano ko i-classify sarili ko as an artist kasi iba yung approach ko sa music than most. Hindi ako ma-lyrics, nasa instrumentation ako. May ibang hobbies rin ako like drawing and clay modelling. Siguro, I’m an exploring artist.

Top 3 songs on repeat?
Jim: “Cinema Paradiso” by Ennio Moriconne. That’s my number 1 favorite. “Something About Us” by Balance and the Traveling Sounds. “Siempre Me Quedara” by Bebe.

Icoy: “Open Your Eyes” by Bobby Caldwell, “Lens” by Frank Ocean, and “America” by Ventura Highway.

Oteph: “Nightmare” by Polyphia, “Destiny” by Eternity Forever, and “Salty” by Andres.

Ling: Two songs from the musical Dear Evan Hansen: “Waving Through A Window,” and “For Forever.” One from Hamilton. I like the song there called “My Shot.”

Andrew: “A Live Nativity Scene” by Six Gallery, and two songs by Tangled Hair called “I’m Calmer Than You Are,” and “It Does Look Like a Spider.”

One song you would recommend to anyone.
Oteph: “Nightmare” by Polyphia pa rin.

Icoy: “Fat Lady” by Sure Sure.

Jim: Ngayon, I’d really recommend “Siempre Me Quedera” by Bebe dahil sobrang favorite ko talaga siya.

Ling: “Top of the World” by The Carpenters. The first time I heard that song made me really happy.

Andrew: “Japanese Denim” by Daniel Caesar. It’s a good song.

Is OPM dead or thriving?
Andrew: It’s alive.

Jim: Local music is thriving. It’s very much alive.

Icoy: OPM–the word–should be dead. Local music is thriving. There’s no point anymore in branding the entire local scene to one word.

Jim: It’s just music. It’s not healthy to brand the entire scene kasi inaalienate din natin yung sarili natin dun sa music. Sa mundo kasi I’m a musician, parang, di naman ako “Filipino musician.”

Ling: Parang personally when I make music, di ko iniisip, “Pinoy ako gumagawa ako ng rock music.” I’m just a musician making music.

Icoy: Race should not play a part in music.

Dream collaboration?
Jim: Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

Icoy: As Icoy, I want to write a song with American Football. Or like write a trashy verse with a trashy song that Tyler, The Creator would write.

Andrew: Gusto ko mag-jam with Tangled Hair but for drums. I play a little and favorite drummer of all time ko yung drummer nila.

Ling: I would like to be able to jam with original lineup of Envy on the Coast. Not only is their drummer amazing but they also have creative guitar players.

Oteph: Gusto ko maka-jam yung Polyphia. Bagong discovery ko sila and gusto ko makuha yung style nung bassist nila.

 

LAA-1 LAA-2 LAA-3
From top: Icoy Rapadas, Jim Lopez, Oteph Tumambing, Andrew Son, and Ling Lava.

 

Photography by Renzo Navarro
Art Direction by Mags Ocampo
Grooming by Bea Colet and Nix Ceballos

LIONS & ACROBATS IS ON SPOTIFY. FOR MORE UPDATES, FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM
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Alyssa Castillo
Alyssa Castillo is a freelance writer and is concurrently Rogue Media's Editorial Assistant for The NBHD. She reads for fun, writes for a living, and wastes too much time entertaining the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Find her on Instagram as @lysscstll.
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