Ringlight Sessions: The Neighborhood puts up-and-coming local artists and musicians in the spotlight—or more accurately, ringlight—to show us what they’ve got. Next up: Miguel Escueta and Leanne Mamonong.
Miguel Escueta has been in the game for over a decade having been able to release albums as a former signed MCA solo act. He has since taken a break from the scene building a name in the local restaurant and bar industry with Pablo’s, Frank & Dean, and Ocean’s Telephone Company all found in The Fort. “But I never stopped writing music,” he says.
Miguel makes his comeback with musical group The Morning Episodes. The artist cites that apart from the changes in his personal life, “venturing into business that involves social interaction and gathering a community” is also something that inspires him.
Meanwhile, Leanne Mamonong, the other half of the duo Leanne & Naara, is fresh out of college. She intends to have career as a full-time singer and songwriter. as well as a theater performer. “Before, I wouldn’t go to gigs if we weren’t part of the lineup. But now I’ve learned to just go out there and see all these new artists,” she shares. “I draw inspiration from their sound and also meeting them and talking with them.” Leanne thinks songwriting is a tricky business. “What makes a hit song, a hit song? Nowadays, you can’t really predict that.”
Bridging a gap between generations of original Pinoy music, these two collaborate with Mito Fabie (Curtismith) for their single, “Devil,” which they perform below.
Describe yourself as an artist.
Miguel: Before, being a recording musician was my whole self. That was who I was. Now, music is just one of the big parts of my life but it’s not my whole life. But I still love it as much.
Leanne: Tough question. I guess I’m the kind of artist that doesn’t really overthink. Overanalyzing what it is that people want to listen to or what the market wants to hear, I don’t really do that. Being honest and truthful with what I write is what I try for.
Top 3 songs on repeat?
M: It depends on my mood. I really like the new Selena Gomez track “Wolves,” which she did with Marsmello. I’d also put “Best of You” by Foo Fighters here.
L: “You Get What You Give” by New Radicals. I love that song. It’s so uplifting. “Love Is a Losing Game” by Amy Winehouse. “Losing You” by Jamie Cullum. Oh, and a fourth one, a song that always makes me feel good is “Dancing in The Moonlight” by Toploader.
One song you would recommend to anyone?
M: I think one of the best songs ever written is “The Scientist” by Coldplay.
L: “If I Fell” by The Beatles.
Is OPM dead or thriving?
L: It’s thriving. You just need to go out there and see it for yourself.
M: Thriving. I released my first album a decade ago so I’ve seen the evolution and the change. I remember when I came in, OPM rock was vibrant and then it came to a point that there wasn’t anything new and exciting; everyone was starting to sound the same but now it’s amazing how these young acts are coming out all sounding different. Before you could box the OPM sound, but now there’s no OPM sound. It’s so diverse and it’s exciting. They’ve had the opportunity of being exposed to different music around the world because of the internet and social media. The bands are now, what, 19-24 years old? They’re part of that boom of media being available to you. That’s one of the reasons why I’m excited to be back working with Leanne and Mito because they’re young, talented, and successful up-and-coming acts.
M: Kanye West. It’d be cool to have him rap something I write for him.
L: Amy Winehouse. She’s one of my biggest influences.
Photography by Renzo Navarro
Makeup and grooming by Chyla of NYX Cosmetics
YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE FULL STUDIO VERSION OF DEVIL ON YOUTUBE. MIGUEL ESCUETA IS ON INSTAGRAM AS @tHEMORNINGEPISODES WHILE LEANNE MAMONONG IS @LEANNEMAMONONG.