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: Markki Stroem.
Markki Stroem turned 30 this year, and by all accounts, it’s been every bit the milestone he hoped it would be. Last month, he made waves with his bare-it-all appearance at the hotly anticipated Bench Under the Stars Anniversary Show, plus he’s playing the lead role of Claude in the Repertory Philippines production, Hair. “My character represents a figurative Jesus in this haggle of hippies,” he says. “He represents what is pure and kind of sacrifices himself for the greater good.” Markki also thinks the theme song, “Aquarius,” is particularly relevant at this time, with the world in the midst of an awakening of sorts. “The ’60s was the hippie era, and now we have the hipsters or the millennials. Back then they were fighting against war, the unnecessary killing of people who were going off to Vietnam… and guess what? It’s happening again,” he observes. “But now, you don’t have to go out on the streets and protest; you can just go online and say what you need to say, which is an interesting turn of events. It’s a new Age of Aquarius, which is really cool.” Check out his rendition in the video below.
Describe yourself as an artist.
I’m the kind of person who just loves what I do. I like to experiment, that’s why I allot time to do my television soap, movie, play, modeling, working out—because I really, really want it to be perfect before I get onstage. I need to be the best person I can be because it is not me, it is the audience who will be participating in this beautiful story that I’d like to tell, so I don’t want to be half-baked in anything that I do. Not just for the audience, but also for my family members who are there to support and watch me.
Top 3 songs on repeat?
“New Rules” by Dua Lipa, “Havana” by Camila Cabello, and “Unstable” by Zak Abel. These are modern-day songs that I’m listening to over and over again in the car at the moment. But overall, it would probably be “Ex-Factor” by Lauryn Hill, “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone, and “Heaven” by John Legend.
One song you would recommend to anyone?
“Age of Aquarius.” I didn’t understand it before I started this play, and it became a cult classic because of this show. It’s a good song to listen to at the moment because we’re still in the Age of Aquarius, maybe the end part of it. It’s where culture and music and the entertainment world explode in passionate fervor.
Is OPM dead or thriving?
Musicians who perform nowadays, like sila Moira Dela Torre, KZ Tandingan, they’re doing really well in the billboard charts because they know how to market themselves. And it’s a beautiful thing because they’re trying to infuse modern-day music from abroad into their own Filipino OPM versions, which influences how they write their music. I think the industry in terms of CD sales is probably dead, but Spotify is here. You can choose what you’d like to listen to now. You can choose among the artists that appeal to the bigger diaspora, that’s why “Havana” and this Dua Lipa song is stuck in my head because they’re all over the charts, and there are a few Filipino artists who are on the charts. It’s great to see that they’re able to be current in the international scene. So OPM is not dead… it’s just beginning, I think.
Locally, maybe Up Dharma Down. That’s like a dream, right? It’s everyone’s dream. Foreign, Lauryn Hill or John Legend.
Photography by Renzo Navarro
Art Direction by Mags Ocampo
Grooming by Bea Colet
HAIR RUNS AT ONSTAGE, GREENBELT 1 UNTIL DECEMBER 17, 2017. TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE AT TICKETWORLD.COM.PH. FOLLOW @MARKKISTROEM ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM.