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: She’s Only Sixteen.
Anyone who’s ever interacted with She’s Only Sixteen—whether it be online or in real life—knows there’s only one thing you need to survive a conversation with the band: a sense of humor. After all, sarcasm and wit are integral to the quartet’s brand. To keep up with Roberto Seña, King Puentespina, Andrew Panopio, and Anjo Silvoza, you’ve got to be able to think on your toes. You also have to be down for anything—from impromptu freestyle rap battles to on-the-spot wrestling introductions to insightful conversations that come out of nowhere.
That being said, interviewing these guys was a doozy. In between jokes and playful banter, She’s Only Sixteen talks about life post-Whatever That Was—their debut album released half a decade after their eponymous EP—and pre-what-is-yet-to-come.
What have you guys been busy with since you dropped Whatever That Was? How has it been
Seña: We’ve been playing a lot of shows. We plan on having a bigger set this year by adding more elements to our line-up.
Andrew: Yeah, we’ve had thoughts of adding other people to the band as well as other elements through computers—keyboards, samplers, etcetera.
King: We’re trying to integrate more atmospheric sounds.
What influenced that decision?
Seña: Basically, how we recorded the album. If you listen to it, you’ll notice that it isn’t just four instruments playing at the same time. There are maybe eight or nine at any given time?
King: There are lots of layers—
Seña: Layers, man. Layers.
King: –like onions.
Seña: Or like a cake… Like a human, even.
Yeah, it’s a lot richer than your live sets—which are great by the way. How’s the reception of the album been?
Andrew: What I hear from people is that it touches them in a way. [Those kinds of comments] feel pretty sincere and intimate—like they really took the time to listen to the album. As a musician, I think that’s the goal naman talaga. You make something meaningful instead of just a bop. You get me?
Seña: I, for one, think it’s the best album of 2017. [laughs]
[laughs] Ilalagay ko ‘yan.
Seña: No, but here: I’m just really happy with it. I do hope more people listen to it but I’m definitely more excited about what we’re coming up with next.
Speaking of what’s coming up next, what inspires you guys?
King: Experiences, I think—growing up, coming of age, looking for your place. We try to bring that to the table and put it all on record.
So you like expounding on very specific experiences?
King: It’s either very specific or very broad and relatable. You know… What is life here? What is existing in Manila like?
King: Very, very.
After writing and creating your debut album, did you find the answers to those kinds of questions?
Andrew: You never really find answers in the music you make.
Seña: Going back to your earlier question, though, I think I draw inspiration from processing my own thoughts. That’s pretty much it for me.
Andrew: Also, I feel like we can approach how we feel much better with sound now. We used to be stuck with one sound but we started experimenting a lot and now I think we’re able to explore more in terms of topics, too. That’s pretty exciting. The songwriting is pretty much inspired by the music itself.
How did each of you get into music?
King: Growing up, I played the guitar. Listening to my mom’s records and watching movies about music—yeah.
So there wasn’t one particular instance that stuck with you as, “ahhh this is the start?”
King: I always say this but I think it was School of Rock.
Andrew: YOU CAN’T SAY THAT!
King: But it was the bees knees!
Seña: Can King answer for me as though I were dead? [laughs]
King: Seña’s household was always full of music. He would always tell me how his parents used to sing in the shower and he’d sing along from outside the door. One day, he just picked up a guitar and sat in his room—he had a window—and he just played. Rest in peace, bro… [laughs]
Seña: [Laughs] No, okay! I got into music because… I don’t know. It’s just something innate in me. I’m a very emotionally exhausted human being and I just need to put that into music.
Andrew: My brother and sister were always playing the guitar. My first instrument was the drums. When I first got it, I took my first few lessons and I found that I just couldn’t stop playing. I developed this sense of rhythm. Eventually, I started jamming with my siblings, my classmates. Then, there. I just knew that I wanted to keep making music—it didn’t matter if I was getting better at it, I just knew that I was happy playing. The way I see it now is that I’m just thankful that I still get to do something that makes me happy, something that I love.
Have you guys ever thought of pursuing music full-time?
Seña: I used to… But then I got a job. [laughs]
Andrew: Personally, I always thought I’d have a separate career. My end goal has always been that I want to be a designer.
King: I think I’ve always wanted my career to be related to music but not necessarily to do the band thing full-time. That’s why I got into production.
Seña: You’re Kerwin [CRWN] ‘di ba?
King: I’m… I’m just King. [frowns]
On that note, how are your side projects going? Seña, you have a new one, right?
Seña: Yeah, it’s on hold a bit until I get my life together. [Laughs]I would love to pursue my DJ-ing more and producing music for other people… but for now, check out Lazy Maguire.
King: Well, CRWN is going pretty well.
Do you think these side projects help with the growth of the band also?
Seña: Yeah, we draw influences from these side projects—
King: —and then, we pour them into the sauce.
Seña: Get it? It’s a play on words. SOS, the acronym and sauce—the combination of ingredients.
King: Acronym pala yung sauce?
Everyone: Yeah… SOS… She’s Only Sixteen?
King: … Ahhhhh
Seña: A DOUBLE ENTRENDE, SIR. [laughs]
From top: Roberto Seña, King Puentespina
How would you guys describe your sound at the moment?
Seña: Lazy pop!
Andrew: I think there’s definitely a pop side. I’m proud to say that I love our songs because they’re catchy. We have a knack for finding things that are catchy. It helps that we individually like to have a taste in music… I uh… I didn’t really describe it huh?
Seña: Way to digress, bro. Our sound is lazy pop.
King: It’s also very raw—especially when we play live. It’s in your face.
Where can people catch your sets for that in-your-face experience?
Seña: Route, Saguijo, the usual joints!
Where’s your favorite place to play?
Andrew: Sometimes Route… Sometimes not Route…
Seña: Route. There aren’t a lot of places to play in Metro Manila, to be honest.
King: I think mine’s MOA Arena. Suki na ‘ko doon eh.
Seña: WE PLAYED THERE ONE TIME. THREE TIMES IF YOU COUNT THE TIMES WE PLAYED OUTSIDE. [laughs]
Alright, on to the harder stuff! What are your top three songs on repeat right now?
King: “Something Foreign,” by Sir featuring School Boy Q, Raveena If Only, Sza Broken Clocks.
Seña: “See You Again,” Tyler the Creator, “666,” Sugar Candy Mountain, and “Dare,” Gorillaz.
Andrew: “Smuckers,” by Tyler the Creator—wow, very cool—
Seña: “Mr. Right,” by Kim Chiu, also. No, really, pinapakinggan ko yun.
Andrew: “Reflections After Jane,” by The Clientele and “Bleached,” by Brockhampton.
What is the one song you’d recommend to anyone? One song for all time.
Seña: “Mr. Right” of Kim Chiu. I would recommend it because you have to understand kajologan to be cool.
Andrew: “Zephyr Song,” by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
King: Man… Mild High Club’s “Skip Tracing.”
Seña: Oh, oh! Though Mr. Right is still a good song, I think I’d also recommend Cold Fame by Band of Skulls.
Who is your dream collaborator? The artist has to be alive, that’s the only condition.
King: The Vaccines!
Seña: Hmm, Alive? Flying Lotus. PANIS!
Okay, last question and I think this is something you’re all used to talking about—
Andrew: Why are we called She’s Only Sixteen? [laughs]
Seña: Babasagin ko ‘tong lamesa.
King: What, is she still sixteen? [laughs]
From top: Anjo Silvoza; Andrew Panopio
No, no. Is OPM dead?
[collective groans and laughter]
Andrew: Can we just talk about why we’re called She’s Only Sixteen?
Seña: No, okay. I don’t like the term, that’s why I think it’s dead. Local music is very much alive but please stop using the damn term. It boxes the audience and the artists. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.
King: I think OPM is very much alive and running. [laughs] No, but really. I feel the same way as Seña
Andrew: For me, for me lang ah, I think Original Pinoy Music is alive… But obviously people associate OPM with a specific sound. I think OPM has evolved.
Andrew: It’s changed into something with no real basis of a sound. You got people from their bedrooms making music—
King: From their bathrooms, from their sofa… [laughs]
Andrew: Everyday you just hear different kinds of music from all over the country and it’s difficult to just put that all under one term.
Photographs by Renzo Navarro
Art Direction by Mags Ocampo
Grooming by Debbie Santos of Center for Aesthetic Studies and Jinx Aggabao of Make Up For Ever