Tag Archives: Ringlight Sessions

art + music by Nana Caragay

Ringlight Sessions: Markki Stroem

From ‘Hair’ to Bench, the theater veteran and consummate performer is experiencing a renaissance on different stages

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.

Dream collaboration?
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

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Nana Caragay
Nana Caragay is a magazine editor, writer, voice over talent, and former gymnast. When she's not stalking cute dogs on social media, she's most likely shopping, working out, watching E!, or drinking iced tea. She's on Instagram @nanacaragay.
art + music by Alyssa Castillo

Ringlight Sessions: Miguel Escueta and Leanne Mamonong

These two artists represent OPM’s more recent growth through a collaboration

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.

Dream collaboration?
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.

miguel-1 leanne-1

Photography by Renzo Navarro
Makeup and grooming by Chyla of NYX Cosmetics

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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.
art + music by NBHD

Watch: Get in the holiday spirit with Jingle Bell Rock

Markki Stroem, Lions and Acrobats, and more try to get you into the holiday spirit

It’s the first of December, a month that we hope will be filled with substantially more good cheer and goodwill than stress and holiday traffic. We at the Neighborhood are all about adding to the former. So we asked a handful of artists to welcome us all to the last hurrah of 2017 with their take on a Christmas classic. ‘Tis the season!


Markki Stroem
Nicole Tejedor
KA Antonio
Marga Jayy
Miguel Escueta
Leanne Mamonong
Lions and Acrobats
Over October
Runway Crimes

All of these artists are part of our new series called Ringlight Sessions. Here, we put different performers and musicians in the spotlight to showcase original content. Check out our first two Ringlight artists KA Antonio and Chai Fonacier.

Your friendly Neighborhood team.
art + music by Nana Caragay

Ringlight Sessions: KA Antonio

The frontwoman of Ajka draws inspiration from many other talented female musicians who have come before

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. First up: KA Antonio of Ajka.

Asked what her biggest musical influences are, and KA Antonio cites female-led ’90s and early ’00s acts like The Cranberries, Swing Out Sister, and Imago, along with other female musicians who strike a nostalgic chord, such as Barbie Almalbis and Alanis Morrissette. Now she gets to follow in their footsteps as the frontwoman for Ajka, the winner of the Nescafé Soundskool contest held in 2010. After a brief hiatus (in which her bandmates pursued jobs in the corporate world while KA released an album as a solo artist), the band that first formed in their DLSU college days has reunited and is ready to jump back into a reinvigorated music scene. “We’re coming up with new songs,” she happily announces. “We’re also currently working on re-releasing some of the songs from our first EP, coming up with a music video… it kind of feels like we’re a new band all over again, but we wanted to hold on to the songs that we had before.”

These days, Ajka regularly performs at monthly gigs called called No Covers Allowed, which puts promising local talents in the spotlight. “It’s fun! It can be hard finding gigs where you will get paid to play original music unless you’re a well-known artist,” she says. And if you want to get a glimpse of KA in action, watch this:

RINGLIGHT SESSIONS: KA Antonio (@kriscaantonio) of the band Ajka sings ‘Ako Naman’. Read all about her on TheNeighborhood.PH 🎶 #TheWholeNBHDIsHere

A post shared by The NBHD | TheNeighborhood.PH (@theneighborhood.ph) on

Describe yourself as an artist.
I don’t care! Or probably it’s because of the years that have passed… I had a phase when I was really losing it, asking myself why I wanted to do this. I felt so pressured that I couldn’t write music anymore. That’s what I’ve worked on the past few months: getting the passion back and having fun. I just want to keep remembering that this is my passion and not something I feel forced to do.

Top 3 songs on repeat?
“Super Far” by Lany, “Style” by Taylor Swift, and “Gravity” by John Mayer.

One song you would recommend to anyone?
“#41” by Dave Matthews Band, but you have to look for the live version. Or Swing Out Sister’s “Breakout,” the Live at the Jazz Café version. Especially if people are into jazz music—super ganda the solos.

Is OPM dead or thriving?
Thriving! There are a lot of super awesome new artists that you didn’t even know existed. Well, you know they all exist, but every so often, a new one comes up. But at the same time, the old ones are still there. So it’s really very, very interesting.

Dream collaboration?
Coldplay… feeling! Ha ha. And John Mayer. Why not? Alessia Cara has a collab with John Mayer!


Photographs by Renzo Navarro
Makeup and grooming by Chyla of NYX Cosmetics

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Nana Caragay
Nana Caragay is a magazine editor, writer, voice over talent, and former gymnast. When she's not stalking cute dogs on social media, she's most likely shopping, working out, watching E!, or drinking iced tea. She's on Instagram @nanacaragay.