Rummaging through the Amplify.ph catalogue

If you follow my personal account you probably know that I took an internship recently -- I had two months to burn before senior year, and I needed something to do other than laze around at home. But that necessity quickly turned into what was probably the best two months I've ever had, mainly because this internship gave me a sort of preview for the career I've always wanted. I've always been sure that I want to write about music for a living, but Amplify.ph showed me that it's actually possible. After my first day I literally went through the entire Amplify.ph catalogue, noted down my favorite songs, and made notes! My boss was a bit surprised at the enthusiasm, I think. My internship involved listening to a lot of great music, some of which I would've never listened to on my own. I learned more than I know how to articulate, so I though that instead of writing a cheese-fest about my "journey," I'd write about the music. (And get a blog post out in the process!) That's really what I interned for anyway!

One of the reasons I chose to intern for Amplify was because I never really paid attention to Filipino popular music apart from two or three acts, whether as a casual listener or as a blogger, which is pretty dismal in comparison to K-Pop and all the foreign music I listen to. I had a British pop group phase (pre-1D!), I had a Disney phase in grade school, and I settled down into making a name for myself in Kpop blogging -- the fault is partially mine for not seeking out good Filipino music as enthusiastically as I did foreign music. But on the other hand, when I was at that music taste-forming stage in high school around 2007, local music had very little online content. Foreign music had YouTube, streaming audio, biographies and news, but local music had a comparatively smaller presence and the best way to catch and discover good music was by going to gigs. I was thirteen at the time so not only would I not be allowed by anyone (my parents and the clubs themselves alike) to go, I wasn't really the type who wanted to go.

But now that I'm older and can experience the local music scene in its entirety (;P) I realize that now is such an amazing time to start getting interested in the music -- not only because of all the gigs practically every night, but also because the scene has a much stronger online presence now thanks to places like Amplify.ph.

So here are some of the songs that have been the most memorable to me during my internship with them -- plus FREE download links to all of them! <3 This is just the tip of the iceberg though. Trust me, I have an entire document full of song titles and comments just waiting to be turned into blog posts.

Bullet Dumas - "Pssst"
My dad has enough clout in the local industry (I think) to be choosy with productions he takes on, so he's super selective and only takes on projects he really wants to. And since we're pretty much on the same musical wavelength (he taught me everything I know about commercial music, so obviously!), I honestly really do like his productions. Whenever I see how serious he is about his work, in the mainstream music industry of all places, I'm reminded of why I became a blogger in the first place -- to show people that pop can be taken seriously. I remember the day "Pssst" was recorded -- I was fortunate to be in the studio then even if I had no idea what Bullet's music sounded like, but the minute he started playing "Pssst" I froze and got goosebumps all over. At that moment I realized why my dad had been gushing over Bullet for the past few months, and why he offered, jumped almost, to produce the EP. This was not only the song that got me interested in local music again, it was also the song that lead me to Amplify. It's hard to put "Pssst" into words, this is one of those cases where the music should speak for itself -- and this song can definitely speak mountains for itself. One thing I will say though is that I think "Pssst" is that perfect combination of what people call "folk," or "traditional" music and more mainstream sounds. The melody is beautiful, there's really no other word for the simple but stunning quality, but those tongue twister-like lines give it character that keeps you interested. It's also easy to sing or hum along to -- it's not completely foreign to listeners, despite being out of the ordinary pop formula. To be able to combine all those qualities into one song is nothing short of genius -- but to be able to add a stunning guitar line with gorgeous intricacies of its own and that can single-handedly steer the dynamics of the song from start to finish? That's art.

Autotelic - "Balik"
The first gig I ever went to as an intern was on my second day, and that was the first time I saw that many bands all in one night. I think I saw six or seven? I had a great time and the first few bands were okay, not quite my type, but when Autotelic came on and played "Balik," I was sold. When I got home later that morning the first thing I did was download this. This is the kind of song that sounds so much better live, because then you can really feel that thumping bass drum and hear all the intricate details the band pulls off. It's not so much the melody that makes this song, it's how everything is pulled together to make for an entire, cohesive, experience.

Kai Honasan - "This City"
On my first day they asked me what local music I listened to, the conversation went to Kai Honasan and I said, "yeah I heard her album!" Then suddenly the person beside me said, "I'm Kai Honasan!" Needless to say I was apologizing like crazy after. But anyway, one of the best parts about my internship was that I got to work with actual musicians. It's not so much that I was star-struck, I mean I went from apologizing like crazy to painting Kai's nails with sparkly purple polish in a week, it's more that I know how important being a musician is in work that involves, well, music -- and this internship proved that to me. Practically everyone in the office was a musician and it made for some very entertaining work days, to say the least! While I like "Tongue Tied" too, I love the strings on "This City" and how the really, really cheerful melody is on top of this gorgeous arrangement -- complete with drum rolls! You can never go wrong with strings and drum rolls in the same song.

Mayonnaise - "Tayo Nalang Dalawa"
July was Amplify's first birthday, so us interns (there were quite a few of us!) were tasked to put together an anniversary gig. It was stressful, yes, but it was also a lot of fun -- and I put my OC, girly tendencies to good use. It was a six-band line-up, and we got Mayonnaise to play a set for us! I had heard this song before on the site -- I thought it was catchy and had a really sing-able melody, but it was so much better when I heard it live at the gig. Probably also because I constantly hear real drums up close, but it's really different when you hear a song live and you can feel the drums. I'd go to gigs for that reason alone, honestly. And it's also when the dynamics between the band members isn't decided by studio mixing but by, well, the band themselves. The recording is great too though, with those gutsy guitars, the prominent drum line and a vocal part that refuses to get drowned out by the band.

Progeny - "Five Reasons"
One of my main tasks was to transcribe interviews for the site, which sounds pretty boring actually. But those interviews taught me so much about how the local scene works nowadays. There was a lot of name-dropping, a lot of funny anecdotes and interesting insights -- there were also a lot of song titles thrown around. One of the last transcriptions I did mentioned, and sang praises for, Progeny's "Five Reasons." Honestly if I hadn't heard what was being said about the track, I would've never listened to Progeny. The music I do associate a name like that to isn't really my cup of tea -- but when I heard my bosses talk so enthusiastically about it, I knew I had to hear "Five Reasons" myself. And I really liked it! The gutsy guitar riffs fill up the whole song basically, and the guitar solo right after the first chorus is swoon-worthy, plus amidst the chaos the drum line brings a crisp quality. The melody is gorgeous -- it gets glorious almost by the time the chorus hits, but at the same time there's an actual, cohesive melody present. So slightly grating-on-purpose vocal style aside, it's the kind of melody you can listen to pretty much any time. I've been listening to this for weeks already!

Two months filled with amazing music working in what's probably the best office ever (I wouldn't really know though because it's the first office I actually worked at D:), I really wish I could chain myself to a post there and stay forever, but school starts tomorrow and it's thesis year! Scary. :O


1 comments:

  1. As a frequent reader of your blog, I have to say that this is one of my favorite posts of yours! Aside from liking your selections, I feel that I really connected with you with this entry. Though I'm not a music writer like you (or someone related to one of the country's most respected producers), I guess we're alike in the sense that we have lots to learn about our own music, mainstream or otherwise. To me, it's not really nationalism at work, nor a questioning of what should and shouldn't be mainstream (that's a whole other issue on pop culture, I guess, haha). It's just seeking art, appreciating it for its merits and admiring the efforts of the artist. So thanks for writing about these songs, if only to get these songs out. I'm not hating on the mainstream at all -- I like kpop and boybands, for godsakes, as great as the music can be, I still exist in my own negative "bakya" stereotype, lol -- but it's always refreshing to find different music that exists on a parallel plane. I really look forward to your future as a music writer because I think you'll open more doors for local music, not just for Filipino readers but for people all over the world :)

    ReplyDelete

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