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: Zsaris.
Zsaris’s circle, you’ve been warned. Asked who she takes inspiration from, and she offers that she looks toward her friends. In fact, her original single “Alangan” was inspired by another friend’s relationship, while her just-released song, “Kung Alam Mo Lang,” is the result of a heartache of her own. “I was lying in bed, and the melody suddenly came to me. I forgot about it the next day, but I had it saved on my phone. After a few weeks, I remembered it and said, ‘Okay. You should write about your feelings.’” You might be tempted to describe this as being rather Taylor Swift, but the winner of the 2015 Mossimo Music Summit will be the first to say she’s not your usual female artist. “As a woman, it’s not very ‘feminine’ to be looping,” she points out, wherein a musician will use a machine to record backing tracks on the spot, turning himself into a one-man band. (Ed Sheeran’s Grammys 2017 rendition of “The Shape of You” is a memorable example.) “To carry all of those equipment, and set it up, and operate it flawlessly, by yourself, every time—it’s not very typical. But at the same time, I’m proud that I’ve been able to do it, and in two, three years, I’ve grown as a musician,” she says. Even sans instruments, Zsaris rocks—take a look at her in action below.
Describe yourself as an artist.
I think I am very… singular. I play the guitar upside down and I beatbox, so I marry all of my skills—playing the guitar, beatboxing, harmonizing, and of course, performing my songs. There are a lot of loop artists in the scene, but among female artists, I’ve really turned this into a career. I try to break stereotypes also. Why not bring your own equipment, be less self-conscious about it, and just play? Be very open to expressing and not impressing.
Top 3 songs on repeat?
“Watch Me Dance” by Tom Misch, “Radio Song” by Esperanza Spalding, and “Hey Barbara” by IV Of Spades.
One song you would recommend to anyone?
“Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika” by Mr. C [Ryan Cayabyab]. It’s a classic, and totoo sya!
Is OPM dead or thriving?
Thriving! Thanks to the kids—we owe a lot to the young bands who started all of these productions. They gathered and became friends with each other, no bad blood. Like Jensen and the Flips, Ben&Ben, Reese Lansangan—their managers just gathered everybody and started playing, whether or not people showed up, and now they’re big artists. We can also thank the internet, word of mouth… kids have started listening to original music again. They look up to Filipino musicians who are producing great music at their age; even older artists are getting inspired by them. There are all of these collaborations, and it’s a good thing.
There’s this Norwegian artist called Bernhoft. He plays soul and R&B, pero looping, so isang tao lang sya. Ang galeng nya, super.
Photography by Renzo Navarro
Art Direction by Mags Ocampo
Makeup by Chyla of NYX Cosmetics