About Angels

February 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

About Angels (photo credit)

Here’s a playlist I made last year. Things have changed but the music has stayed the same. That’s as far as I can go in describing whatever happened there.

  1. The Smiths – This Charming Man
  2. The Cure – Just Like Heaven
  3. Copeland – Don’t Slow Down
  4. The Smiths – Ask
  5. fun. – All The Pretty Girls
  6. Smashing Pumpkins – Try, Try, Try
  7. Stars – This Charming Man (The Smiths cover)
  8. The Pixies – Here Comes Your Man
  9. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes
  10. Vampire Weekend – Taxi Cab
  11. Dashboard Confessional – Ender Will Save Us All

Download the playlist here.

A night with Olafur Arnalds

February 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Photo credit: Zet Diaz

Last night, my friend Zet (greet her a happy birthday!) and I watched Olafur Arnalds at the Echoplex (LA). There are three things I liked about the show: the storytelling visuals, and music with a spirit – the latter leading to my third point, which is pretty much about music becoming more than just music.

Playing live music with visuals has always been a dream. It has been my vision for my music. I have always wanted to do something like that, as a supplement to our live material. It was going to be good, considering I always played in the form of a wall of sound (with a band); surrounding a cafe or bar so much that it blankets the ambience with reverberating emotive melodies. Too bad we did not have money for it.

Photo credit: Zet Diaz

Olafur Arnalds, last night, showed me the power of visuals when tied with music. His visuals weren’t just supplements to the music; as a matter of fact, the visuals held a storyline along with the music. It was hand-in-hand, as if one couldn’t live without the other. I loved the motif, which was mostly flying (planes, birds), and falling down (rain). I had to close my eyes once in a while, trying to digest everything all at once. The soft sounds. The flights. The fears. The joys of letting go.

In terms of music, what I admire the most about Olafur Arnalds is his ability to capture stark emotions and turn them from bitter to bittersweet. His use of dark tones, followed-up by his sweet string quartet arrangements, make listening to his music a rollercoaster ride. I can’t believe he’s only 24 and he’s already accomplished such a feat in music. The bipolar factor of his music is an asset; something one wouldn’t turn down easily. My favorite aspect of his music was his use of reverb. It was as if reverb was elementary to his music, creating a soundstage that was watery and cold.

Lots of things happened in the show last night; emotions were felt and stories were told. But after everything, I realized why listening to Olafur Arnalds was so important to me – it was because his music was beyond music. He was telling stories. I could hear the notes being born simply as rhetorics, simply as little things that sounded good in his head, then turning into surreal arrangements. I could hear his creative process through his timid voice and the way he caressed the keys on his piano. His music became himself, and he became the music.

Photo credit: Zet Diaz

I believe that people and their potentials have no limits. If you tap into that energy and translate it into something beautiful, such as music, it can’t be destroyed, considering it came from an infinite source. Last night, Olafur Arnalds showed me the meaning of that – how his humanity transposed to music, and how his music touched people in the audience like me. He also proved to me why it’s worthwhile to stay in sometimes and just play the piano because eventually, it’s going to teach me how to fly.

Bones Like Snowflakes. Second album.

February 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

If you’ve been following my Twitter updates, this shouldn’t be news to you. But to everyone else, I am very very happy to announce that I will be releasing a new album entitled Second Star To The Right, Then Straight ‘Til Morning under the name Bones Like Snowflakes this coming late March/early April. The album will contain five songs and will run for about twenty-five minutes. Tracklist as follows:

  1. The Sky Will Fall Down Tonight
  2. A Bed Of Starlight To Lay Your Wings Upon
  3. The World Is Gold, And Yours
  4. Hello, You Have Reached The Winter Of Our Discontent
  5. The Pleasure Of Leaving

I know that there have been talks between me and Ow (Threads) of a split album. Apologies for us getting excited too soon; we figured that we’d rather release solo albums on our own first then work on that split album. We did not want to compromise our own concepts, and nor did we want to compromise the stories we wanted to tell with our songs. So instead, we will be working on the split album after our Q1/Q2 2011 releases.

Rest assured, I’m very excited for Second Star. I’m going full-force on collaborations for this album, because that’s something I truly believe in. Carina Santos* and Zet Diaz will be collaborating on the album art. Kristine Caguiat has also agreed to work with me on this one for something to be announced. If you have any ideas or avenues for collaboration (whether it be under film, photography, literature, or mixed media), please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be more than happy to hear you out. The best part about making albums for me is creating such solid relationships with these lovely people.

That’s about it for now. Thank you very much for your support. I will be talking more about this album as we near the release date.

You can hear some previews here.

* – No, I will never ever get sick of her and her amazing art. In fact, I am forever thankful for such a supportive friend!

December 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

while celebrating two thousand eleven years
of service, mother earth is getting tired of people jumping
and shaking her tectonic plates. it makes me
wonder, though: when people shoot guns up in the air to celebrate
another three hundred sixty-five days in front
of them, ejecting tiny sheets of metal into the dark
smoky sky;

where do the bullets fall? i’m sure
they pierce through clouds and rain and moonlight.
but where do they fall asleep?
fireworks are a different subject, for they
are recyclable in people
as fleeting moments from the ground to the sky. maybe
the bullets, in their afterlife, are inside of people too
like you, when all the pretty boys come to you
and you say “no, jimmy, we won’t watch
the fireworks tonight.”

December 30, 2010 § 1 Comment

here’s a problem that most
travelers encounter when they
are guided by nothing but illumination
or as some would call it, affirmation:

there is a canopy of red lights,
but i do not know where to stop.

there is a myriad of green lights,
but i do not know where to go.

and this night is a freeway stretched
the way moonlight bends on silver spoons
or shadows, when they are distorted by ghosts.
i think you should, at least once
every five miles, give me directions
as to where your town might be.

My Christmas gift to everyone: My year in music (everything here is free!)

December 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Let me start with this: I love producing, recording, and writing music. You’re going to get an idea of what kind of music I like to create on this page. This is my 2010 in music; a little anthology of the music I’ve released this year. And since it is Christmas, I have decided to make the un-free ones for free. Just click on Buy Now and put 0.00 on the price so you can get it free. You can also donate if you want. These records helped me transition from Manila to LA, and I would like to share them with everyone.

Grace, And Dragging Her Wings by Don’t Forget, Clementine
Genre: Post-Rock/Instrumental, Ambient
Released: December 12, 2009
Album Art by Carina Santos and Paulina Ortega

Grace, And Dragging Her Wings was my very first full-length album. It opened up so many doors for me. The funny thing about Don’t Forget, Clementine was that it was a side project for all seven of us, coming from different bands (Tonight We Sleep, Kuwago, and Klieg Lights just to name a few) and solo projects (DJ VKNO). We still managed to pull through, and I think that’s amazing. We recorded everything in my house, in my room particularly, except for the drum tracks, which were recorded at the late Blueberri Studios in Balara. The great thing about this record is that it doesn’t try to be anything else; and if you listen to it you would hear the minds of seven people synthesizing, just playing the music they love. There was no ceiling to hit in terms of creative freedom. Everything was skies the limit, and that was the beauty of this album.

I had such a great time producing this album with Ow. Some of you might know that this was my production debut, and I think I really did well in terms of drawing the blueprints for this seven-man melting pot. Even the stories and themes Ow and I used were so instrumental in making this record. I will never forget the sleepless nights we spent trying to figure out what to put where, and all that stuff. It was all worth it.

Of course it was worth it. This was the record that pretty much spearheaded my dissertation on Contemporary Philippine Music (which won Outstanding in our department, yay), and  carried me through the LSAA (a university-wide art award) for music. Most importantly, it helped me define my musicianship. I am forever thankful for such great bandmates and friends who helped along the way.

Rewriting Icarus by Bones Like Snowflakes
Genre: Post-Rock/Instrumental, Grunge
Released: August 28, 2010
Album Art by me, Photography by Bryan Sayson

I started sketching some ideas for Bones Like Snowflakes in Manila. I got the name Bones Like Snowflakes from a weird dream where I picked up five ideas for instrumental songs, and one of them was Bones Like Snowflakes. The name sticked to me so tightly that I decided to name my project before it. The skeletons of this project were derived from my love for Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky. I wanted to make ambient a little grittier and grunge-r, taking from my old influences such as Radiohead and Nirvana. The guitar tones were inspired by those bands I just mentioned. I wrote four songs before leaving Manila for LA, came out with a demo entitled Temple & Spring, and the rest was history.

As soon as I landed LA, I teamed up with an old friend of mine from high school, Od Zeñarosa. I’ve wanted to make music with that guy since we parted ways in high school. Denise Santos, on the other hand, was also in LA, pursuing music and taking her time off after college (and so was I). In search for a drummer we stumbled upon Rogue Sounds in MySpace through Dillon Geidt, their guitarist. Long story short, their drummer Justin Whisler agreed to session for us. Two shows after, Zac Neuenfeldt, their bassist, also took part of our live performances as bassist. I will forever be thankful for Rogue Sounds. They helped us out when we were starting out by sharing their lockout with us, often lending us some gear and studio space. I’m very happy for the recent success they’ve gotten. They’re going on a little winter tour that you guys should check out.

The amount of pressure I put on myself in recording and producing this album was enormous. For one, I was new breed in LA; and I wanted so badly to succeed. We recorded this album in different places and different times, with me mobilizing my equipment. I was homeless for two months but it was so worth it. The four shows we played were tight, and I will never forget them. I’m glad my parents got them on video, and I’ve uploaded some of those in YouTube.

The band is currently on hiatus.

Electric Euphoria by Surgery
Genre: Blues, Rock, Alternative, PowerPop
Released: October 31, 2010
Album Art by Krstine Caguiat and Bianca Catbagan

Electric Euphoria was recorded in Manila. I started mixing and mastering this record back home, and finished the whole thing in LA. It took me about three or four months to wrap it up and seal the deal because I was busy with Rewriting Icarus and playing shows with Bones Like Snowflakes at that time. One of the things I loved producing this album was the way I was working on something created in Manila. At its best, I could hear my room through the microphone as Ysa sang her lines. I would sometimes solo her tracks for fun and just listen to her and the background. I really, really miss that old studio of mine. It wasn’t the cleanest place to record vocals but that was the beauty of it.

The thing that separates Surgery from my other bands and projects is the songwriting process. I remember having little banter moments with Ysa when we were starting out. We had to get some of it out there first before really writing. The band has come a long way from its first stages; from its baby steps, we finally defined what kind of sound we wanted after playing a couple of shows. Mag:net Katipunan will always be our home. It’s where Ysa and I wrote some of the songs you would hear on this record. Also, a funny tidbit: I wrote the riff for So I Can Walk Away when I was auditioning for Berklee here in LA. I just sent it to Ysa and as soon as I came back to Manila we started working on it.

Producing this album was proven to be a challenge for me because it involved vocals. The way everything just funneled into two channels took a considerable amount of time to get used to. Ysa really shines in this record. You would know, because I put almost virtually zero effects on her tracks. Miguel and Marlowe learned how to become tight with each other as the rhythm section, too. What’s so great about being in this band was we always made sure that before bandmates, we were friends. We had a really good run while I was in Manila, but that’s not to say that we’re parting ways.

A Stone’s Throw by Irving Sappho
Genre: Alternative, Folk, Acoustic
Released: December XX, 2010
Album Art by Carina Santos

The Irving Sappho project started at around early October 2010. I was doing some soul searching at that time, knowing that Bones Like Snowflakes was going to rest, and I was free as a bird. I was re-listening to some of my old songs from The Union realized that I was trying too hard to be someone else in those records. A Stone’s Throw was my step towards maturity. I may have finally put The Union to rest, but Irving Sappho was the beginning of something. I was listening to a lot of music I really admired for songwriting, such as The Beatles, The National, Vampire Weekend, Feist, Kings of Convenience, and Death Cab For Cutie. My love for the sacred word and chord progressions pretty much defined the paths I took in writing A Stone’s Throw.

My favorite thing about this genre of music is lyrical importance. I’ve never seen myself being this particular with words. I’ve always been an aspiring writer but I never really found comfort in any of the forms I’ve written in (except maybe for a little fiction), until this solo project came to life. Being a singer/songwriter is so different. My will-power and passion were tested in every step of the way. At the same time I was writing songs for A Stone’s Throw, I got a job. It really changed my perspective with the way things work in this world. On the other hand, I found myself being fascinated with cadence, shifting my guitar style a little bit to being more percussive, to make up for the lack of instruments.

Irving Sappho has taught me such an important virtue: patience. I learned how to take things slow and let the flowers bloom. I was very patient in terms of recording and producing this record. It didn’t take that long anyway, because it was acoustic. But, it’s safe to say that I’m very satisfied with the way things turned out. Sonically, though, I know it’s limited, but I did try my best.

A Stone’s Throw by Irving Sappho now available on Bandcamp for free

December 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

  1. November Blues
  2. Down On The Floor
  3. A Stone’s Throw
  4. Secrets & Strangers
  5. The Empty Apartment
  6. Hey, Franny
  7. LAX

Album art by Carina Santos

Just enter 0.00 on the price so you can download it for free.