Ghost Month is officially over—with a whole wave of gigs and album launches marking its end, no less. Whether you believe in the age-old Buddhist/Taoist concept or not, the last quarter of the year definitely looks promising for the local music scene. We talk to five different artists and bands about their end-of- 2017 releases.
Tell us a bit about the album’s name.
Roberto Seña: It’s called Whatever That Was. It’s one of our older songs but I also think that we could all just shrug our shoulders after this wait right?
What themes and styles did you explore for this album both in terms of lyrics and music?
RS: Lyrically, I always like writing about my own introspective thoughts. I also like exploring having dialogues with the subject at hand. I don’t think I’m a great lyricist but if I can tell you one thing for sure, I mean what I write. As for the music, we just explored a bigger and spacey-er sound in some of the new stuff. We just had fun—playing around and tripping with everything. Shout-outs to our producer Mong and engineer Pat for all the ideas.
Are there any tracks you guys are particularly nervous or excited to release?
RS: “Coke Head and Sheep.” We don’t know how to pull these songs off live. “Does Anyone Remember” has a dancey and salsa-ish beat so that’s very new. Good luck to us!
What’s the upcoming album’s name and what’s the significance behind it?
Jensen Gomez: The album is called BTTR—the idea of calling it that came from our guitarist Mel. We had a list of possible names for the album and at first we didn’t want to name it with a track. But, it made sense to me since I wrote all the songs when I was bitter about stuff or when I was pretty much lying to myself that I was actually better. Hence the name—it could mean either [bitter or better] depends on who’s listening to it. The “better” part of the album seems like an escape.
How have you grown since your last release?
JG: Everyone from the band is as couple of years older than when we released our first album. The support we had during the run of “Honeymoon” was overwhelming and we are very thankful for that. We carried all of that support and gratitude into making this new one. And for me I went through a lot during the 2 years, and I had that going in to writing all the songs.
Who worked on your album art and what was the thought process or concept behind it?
JG: The art and the concept was a collaborative effort from all of us in the band and our artists Cy Lagamson and Janine dela Cuesta. The whole process was pretty long for all the studies that we had but we’re really happy for what they did. They also the did the “BDYTLK” artwork.
What’s the backstory for Mundane?
Icoy Rapadas: I’ve recently had an interview with a different publication where I spoke more on its significance to the music. So, here, I’m going to expound more on its significance to my life and how it affected my lyrics. My life is probably the opposite of colorful. I grew up in a normal family, I’m living a normal life, I went to school, graduated, got a job. Normal. I didn’t really experience much in terms of hardships. I guess I owe this to my parents but also to myself as well for always playing it safe. I’m grateful but, as a songwriter, what does that leave me to write about? I realized that even with a not-so- eventful life and just everyday experiences people often overlook, there are still stories that can be told that need to be heard. You just have to look beyond what’s mundane and find a good way to tell that story. I guess that’s what I tried to achieve with this album.
How have you grown since your first album?
Jim Lopez: We would have meetings regarding our arrangements from the old album and we’d try to look for things to improve and that led us to the realization that we wanted to connect more through Icoy’s lyrics, with the band supporting him; unlike the previous album wherein his voice would be considered as an instrument
IR: If there’s something we consciously worked on for this record, it is our restraint. I think we’ve developed that well, and I see that as a sign that we’ve matured musically. Which tracks are you most excited or nervous about?
JL: I’m actually nervous about releasing the 2 tracks where I play the sax. This is the first time that I wrote and recorded for sax—it was really fun but can’t help but feel nervous about it!
IR: I’m nervous and excited for all the tracks! As much as I’d want to say that I don’t really care what people think, this is virtually my diary being shared to the world. It’s kind of nerve-wracking but, well, ganun eh.
What’s the best song to perform from the new album? Something that gets the entire band going.
JL: For me, I love playing “Whiskey.” There’s a lot of call and response, so you’d hear each of our instruments in some of the parts and you’ll also hear all the instruments come together. It feels like the instruments are talking to each other without talking over each other.
IR: I love performing “Photograph” live. I love singing the chorus of this song plus it ends really strong.
Can you tell us a bit about the album’s name?
Saab Magalona-Bacarro: The new album’s called Before The Babies. Our ages range two decades and we all have no kids yet. We just felt like cementing this time in our lives.
What was the creative process for this album like, in terms of both lyrics and music?
Jim Bacarro: In terms of music, we just wanted to include everyone’s preferences and styles. As compared to the first album where I would make songs, then arrange with the band, we were more deliberate in creating the songs together for this second one. Also, I feel we were more disciplined in giving each member his or her own space in the song. Unlike the first album where everyone was all-out guns blazing in all the tracks, we valued giving way more. We learned to be more accommodating to each other and valuing the song more than individual parts. In terms of lyrics, it’s always been completely personal for me so the songs here reflect where I am at this point: contented but still anxious. In the first album, it was mostly about starting a new band, bitterness and fears as a failed artist.
Are there any experiences in particular that helped shape the voice of the upcoming release?
Manny Tanglao: Something that definitely helped our sound evolve is our time together as a band. For one, Jason only got to join us after the first one so adding his own style and flavor for this new album shaped the new songs. We also got to play in so many places and festivals last year (Laneway, Paradise…etc.) that helped us improve how we write and perform our songs.
Jason Caballa: Performing live a lot since the release of the first album has definitely affected the way we play on the new record. We’ve come to know each other’s tastes, strengths, and quirks as musicians, and that helped in arranging the new songs. We knew when to give way to give others a chance to shine on certain parts.
Candy Gamos: I think our music has grown to be more mature. We’ve learned how to pull back and deliver our message to our audience without necessarily having to scream it out. We still dance though, that’s something unique to our band that won’t ever go away.
SMB: Before leaving the band to finish law school, both Ernest and Mau still recorded guitars for the album. Kyle has joined us permanently and I think he’s been very good for the band’s morale! He’s one of our guitarists but for this album, he recorded synths and helped Jim with tweaking the sound.
What’s your favourite track from the new album to perform live?
MT: “False Alarm for the band”; for me personally, “Talk and Ringer.”
JC: I think “False Alarm” is everyone’s current favorite. “Talk” also gets the crowd going, so it gets us going, too.
CG: I think all of the tracks get everyone going, but personally, I would pick “Crumble.”
SMB: I love “Melon” because it makes you want to dance, cry, and in the end you just want to hold hands and chant with everyone. (You have to hear it to understand!!!)
How would you describe your sound?
My music is pop with a tinge of ambient music, for now a lil r&b, and mostly I try to blend the sincerity of 90s alt rock with 80s synths and samples –– but I’m trying to evolve sonically.
Why did you decide to name your upcoming album crydancer?
I don’t go to clubs to dance, but when I come to catch a friend’s set, or whatever, I always go alone to cry while dancing. It’s cathartic. I do it in my room too. I want people to listen and dance but have them actively listen to what I’m saying and hope it helps with their own emotional catharsis.
How did this new album come together? What was the creative process like?
I worked with more producers and collaborated with old friends. I got to explore more of the separation of being a songwriter and a producer and not doing both at the same time. Like always, most of it is based on my own experience. I’ve gone through a lot over the past 2 years and I think the only way I truly express myself is through music. I thought The Neon Hour would be my coming of age album, but now that I listen to it, it still sounds like I was just an angsty teen coated in sugar. I had a lot of growing up to do and I think it shows.
What’s the best track to perform from the new album?
Everyone seems to love when I play “bbgirl”, but I personally love playing Instead.