By Angelo Comsti Inquirer MANILA, Philippines—Celebrated singer Akon has been the talk of the town these days because of his controversial concert antics. So when news spread that the 27-year-old R&B artist was to perform before a crowd of 3,000 (tickets were limited) in Singapore last Aug. 18, the local press (this writer included) was more than eager to witness (and write) what could be the next day’s entertainment headlines. Thirty minutes into the concert, I arrived at Downtown East’s D’Marquee Stadium, amazed that the crowd was constantly chanting Akon’s name in the middle of a human beatbox’s performance. It was a free-standing event, and I could understand why. Right after the host’s short introduction, DJ Benny D warmed up to everyone with his crazy mix of tunes and red kilt. He played familiar songs from the Black Eyed Peas, P. Diddy and Amy Winehouse and stood on the turntable, prompting everyone to join his wicked free-style dancing. For a while, it felt like a Benny D concert until Akon emerged behind the curtains and began his repertoire with “Jam Rock” and “Shake Down,” songs befitting the crowd’s ear-shattering reaction. Still in anticipation of his latest antic, I watched closely as Akon walked close to the edge of the stage, vulnerable to the arms of many. He asked all to cross their arms in the air, as he sung “Soul Survivor.” He followed it up with his hit single, “I Wanna Love You,” and in the process of singing, stripped his bright yellow shirt to reveal the mark of a bona fide hip-hop artist, a fitted undershirt and a huge silver medallion. This triggered deafening screams from the ladies. Ironically, when Akon threw his shirt to the audience, a tall guy snagged it. The strip show continued as he took off his last piece of clothing to reveal a body as tight as the undershirt he was wearing. As the women extended their arms to reach for the shirt, Akon began to tell the story of how he fell in love with a stripper, something his parents detested. This, as it turned out, was the inspiration behind the song “Don’t Matter,” which he smoothly segued to. Upon hearing it, the three Pinoy kids standing beside me, as if by impulse, break-danced on the floor. Soon as he started his next song, “Mama Africa,” Akon, like a sacrificial lamb, headed to the crowd and submitted himself to the people, who expectedly tugged his pants, brushed his abs and pulled his head down to steal a kiss. In what seemingly was a newsworthy moment, Akon picked up a young girl and placed her on his shoulders. DJ Benny D pulled an excited girl from the crowd and gently did the same, worried it might ruin his mohawk. The girls barely moved as Akon, much to the disappointment of the people, performed his last song, “I Tried So Hard.” In an effort to make the audience forget Akon’s absence, DJ Benny D played another round of mixed music. The concert lasted a little over 90 minutes with a total of 15 songs, and the whole time I was anticipating something controversial to happen. But in the end, I realized that there was something else much more interesting to write about Akon. And that’s the fact that he pulled off a great and entertaining concert, one that did not need controversy to be worthy of being written about. Editor's note: Akon photo courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
August 2007 Archives
By Associated Press NEW YORK--Get ready for Dead air. A new channel devoted entirely to the Grateful Dead debuts Sept. 7 on Sirius Satellite Radio, beginning with the broadcast of a rare 1974 performance by the band at the Hollywood Bowl, the company announced Wednesday. "This is gonna be one fun channel," Dead guitarist Bob Weir said in announcing the station. "We, the guys in the band, get to be involved as much as we can and we'll make sure it's fun. We want the fans to be involved as well." This Associated Press file photo shows members of the Grateful Dead posing in 1985 in Marin County, California. From left, back row, are Bill Kreutzman, Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, and Mickey Hart. In front are Brent Mydland, left, and Weir. Weir will host a show following the concert broadcast on Sirius; original programming featuring bandmates Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann is also planned. The station will also air rare archival interviews with the late Jerry Garcia. Although the Grateful Dead as a musical entity ended after Garcia's August 1995 death, the band still has a large fan base that Sirius hopes to attract. Sirius already has stations dedicated entirely to Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, and has in the past broadcast programming devoted solely to the music of Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, George Strait and The Who. The satellite company offers more than 130 channels for a monthly fee of $12.95.
By Agence France-Presse NEW YORK--Hilly Kristal, founder and owner of an underground rock club in New York known as the spiritual home of American punk, has died of lung cancer, local media reported on Wednesday. Kristal launched CBGB in 1973 in a derelict bar in the East Village, at that time a poor, rundown district of the city. A fan of acoustic music, he initially intended on offering music the club was named after: Country, Bluegrass and Blues. But after he allowed two young, obscure rock bands -- Television and the Ramones -- to perform, the club evolved into a center for underground music and punk rock. And Kristal attracted raw talent by requiring bands that only play their own original music. Patti Smith and "The Godfathers of Punk," The Ramones, got their start at the dark, dank club, as did Blondie and the Talking Heads. The New York Times called Kristal a "rock midwife." "The formula driven Disco music and the long drawn out solos and other complexities in much of the rock of the late sixties and early seventies encouraged a lot of disgruntled rock enthusiasts to seek the refreshing rhythms and sounds of simple high energy rock and roll, which seemed to take shape right here at CBGB," Kristal wrote in a history posted on the former club's website. "We called this music 'street rock' and later 'PUNK' -- 'come as you are and do your own thing' rock and roll," said Kristal. The Bowery club closed its doors in October 2006, after a farewell performance by Patti Smith, due to a massive rent hike. Kristal said he could not afford the $65,000 a month the landlord was demanding and spoke about reopening the club possibly in Las Vegas. Kristal died on Tuesday, said New York One television, quoting relatives. He was 75.
By Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Is the CD obsolete? With digital music downloads -- both legal and otherwise -- fast becoming the preferred medium for obtaining music, it’s beginning to look like the days of the CD are numbered. Some prophets of techno-doom are predicting that within the next three years, CDs will all but disappear as consumers switch to MP3 players and other hard-drive media, or the higher-capacity DVDs. When that happens, unthinkable as it might have been just 10 years ago, the vinyl LP would have outlasted its “successor.” On the brink of extinction when CDs first emerged in 1982 with its promise of “perfect sound forever,” the 12-inch long-playing phonograph record has, against all odds, survived and, in some ways, even thrived. In the beginning, it was kept alive by a small but stubborn clique of Luddites who refused to buy into the hype that CDs were better. The bone of contention is the old “analog vs. digital” debate which has been going on since CDs were first introduced in the market. In a nutshell, LPs are analog recordings: that spiral groove is actually a mirror image of the actual sound waves produced by the musicians. Hence, according to aficionados, it is a more faithful reproduction of the actual music. In contrast, the CD samples the original sound waves at 44.1 khz and encodes this as digital data. This data is then reconverted back to analogue sound when the CD is played back. Herein lies the crux of the debate: since a CD is only a sampling of the original music, analogue purists argue, it is obviously less faithful to the source. Their opponents insist that what is lost is inaudible to the human ear anyway, but some vinyl diehards claim that digital recording kills the very soul of the music. In any case, even as MP3s emerged as a serious rival to the CD, a number of manufacturers began pressing vinyl LPs again. Some of them are small specialist companies catering to the audiophile market, licensing classic recordings and reissuing them as lavishly packaged, premium-priced limited editions, pressed on virgin vinyl. At the same time, the turntable -- long feared extinct save for the DJ’s ever-reliable Technics SL 1200 -- made an unexpected comeback. Don’t expect your dad’s old console record changer, however. Like the records themselves, most of these are aimed at audiophiles with fat wallets, and exotic models that cost as much as SUVs are not unheard of. Therein lies the catch: in order to get sound quality that trumps CD, you need to play your LPs on a high-quality turntable, equipped with a better-than-average cartridge and stylus (known to the average Joe as “the needle”), which will cost several times your garden-variety CD player. And you have to keep your records scrupulously clean, because dirt translates into the annoying ticks and pops that made you switch to CDs in the first place. But, say analog addicts, all the investment in equipment and time spent hunting down records in thrift shops will pay off with “warm,” “human” analog sound as opposed to “cold” digital. In contrast, they say, even a short session listening to digital fatigues the ear. As one vinyl fetishist put it, “listening to digital is like watching porn, listening to analog is like actually having sex.” Maybe. In any case, the growing number of converts to analogue have kept vinyl alive, although the titles available on LP represent only a fraction of those available in the CD format. Most of these are reissues of classic pop and jazz albums, often pressed on premium virgin vinyl. Fully Booked is the Philippine distributor of a number of these small labels, although new vinyl comes at a premium. A classic Miles Davis or Bob Dylan LP, specially pressed on heavy 180 gram vinyl, will set you back anywhere from P1,800 to P2,000 -- equivalent to the cost of three or four CDs. Less well-heeled vinyl fetishists can always buy used LPs. Not too long ago, you couldn’t give them away, but with the resurgence of vinyl and the growing number of collectors, even scratchy local pressings of sought-after titles are fetching unheard-of prices in the used market. One of the few outlets in Manila for used LPs is Bebop Records, a tiny basement stall in the Makati Cinema Square which opened in 1994, when record collector Bobby de Leon decided to turn his hobby into a business. “The demand for LPs is increasing, but the supply is dwindling,” he says. “I used to get a lot of records in the secondhand shops, but now I have to look for them abroad. They now cost more, but then people are willing to pay higher prices for them nowadays. My average price for a used LP in good condition is now around P500. When I started out, I was selling them for P80 to P100.” Many are audiophiles newly-converted to vinyl, who are building record collections to play on their newly-acquired turntables. Many more are obsessive record collectors who are willing to pay premium prices for rarities such as long-deleted original Pinoy rock albums or first pressings of jazz albums on iconic labels like Impulse or Blue Note.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net FILIPINOS overseas who long to listen to the sounds of home can access a new online music site and download an entire library of Filipino music. PinoyTunes.net has over 3,000 all-Filipino songs ranging from the latest pop and rocks songs to classics of the 80s and 90s, as well as hard-to-find songs released during the 60s and 70s. The songs are encoded in high-quality MP3 format and have been encoded with digital rights management security. which allows the copying of the downloaded songs up to five times. The songs come from such record labels as Alpha Music, Star Records, GMA Records and Villar Records. It also includes songs from independent labels giving these artists an opportunity to promote their craft. PinoyTunes.net is founded by Bambi Fonacier, who also owns music retail store Odyssey and the Touch Music Video digital entertainment station. Her aim is to reach Filipinos abroad who might want to hear the songs that they used to listen to while in the Philippines as well as show the latest music trends in the country. The site was launched during a Philippine trade exposition in New Jersey. Fonacier noted that the US is perhaps the single biggest market for their service. “Since around 70 percent of the US population is connected to the Internet, it is safe to assume that there are about three million US-based Filipinos who have access to the internet. Translated to sales this means a multi-million dollar business opportunity not only for our company but also for the Filipino music industry as a whole,” Fonacier said. Fonacier said that even artists are excited about her online library as their music can be heard worldwide and artists can earn royalties when songs are purchased and downloaded. Registration is required to download songs, with an annual membership fee of $11.99, which can be paid through online payment service PayPal. There is also a five-day trial membership worth $3.
By Agence France-Presse KUALA LUMPUR--All dolled up but barely showing any skin, US pop star Gwen Stefani made true to her promise to be a "good girl" at a concert that wowed conservative Malaysians. Stefani covered her tight-fitting tops in jackets, and sported leotards under her dresses and mini-skirts during the two-hour Kuala Lumpur leg of her "Sweet Escape" tour late Tuesday. "I am practically Malaysian," Stefani told 10,000 screaming fans, including Muslim mothers in traditional headdress toting their young daughters, and members of a militant student group which had initially protested her concert. "I just want you to know I am very inspired tonight," she said. "You are a very, very amazing audience." She said she has a special affinity for Malaysia because her rocker husband Gavin Rossdale had relatives in Kuala Lumpur. She then waved a miniature Malaysian flag, and said thank you in the local language. Stefani averted a potential disaster when she promised to dress modestly after the 10,000-member National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students said her normal skin-baring act could erode Islamic values. The opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party also accused her of promoting promiscuity and corrupting the country's youth. But talking to a local entertainment magazine before the show, Stefani said she has never encountered such an opposition to her performances in the past. "I've been in the music industry for 20 years and this is the first time that I'm facing opposition from people who have misunderstood me," she said. "I'm not a bad girl," she said.
By Pocholo Concepcion Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Vina Morales arrives in full makeup, hair neatly in place and casually dressed in a white shirt that gives her an aura of calm. She was in a state of panic a few hours back. Heavy rains had made the creek beside her rented house in San Juan overflow, flooding the basement and damaging her DVD player, CD collection and other things. “You should have seen me,” Vina gushes. “Di ko malaman ang gagawin, ang bilis ng akyat ng tubig. Akalain mo, binubuhat ko yung malaking TV. Naisip ko tuloy, sobra-sobra na yatang blessing ‘to, bumabaha!” (I didn't know what do with the flood. I carried the big TV set. I thought, The blessings seem to be excessive to the point of flooding.) The blessing she’s referring to is her triumph in the Asean Ikon music competition held recently in Kuala Lumpur. The contest pitted Vina against the best singers from Indonesia and Malaysia, for a shot at fame in the whole region. Malaysian producer For the feat, Vina was rewarded with $25,000 and a crack at recording albums and doing live performances in Asean member countries. She can’t hide the joy in her heart. She breaks the news that a Malaysian producer has expressed interest to sign her to a record deal, along with Kjwan, the other Ikon big winner (band division). “We’ll be recording soon,” Vina says, “maybe after I finish an eight-city concert tour in the US.” Music is a passion that’s made Vina look younger than her 31 years. She was only eight when talent scouts from Viva Records spotted her in a singing contest in Cebu (which she won). Vic Del Rosario quickly signed her up. His wife Mina Aragon took an active part in grooming the talented tyke for the major league. Sharon Magdayao was renamed Vina Morales, adapted from Mina’s own daughter, Vina Vanessa. “That contest in Cebu was my first time ever to compete. Ikon was only my second and probably the last time,” Vina reveals. “I guess I can’t take the pressure.” Stage presence What was her winning edge in Ikon? “Stage presence, I think,” Vina surmises. “It also probably helped that I sang in a very clear manner. I thank Eugene Villaluz for that because he told me, ‘Kailangan buo ang boses mo, may power, huwag mo ilalayo ang mike para clear ang tunog.’ (Your voice should be full, with power. Keep the mike close so the sound is clear.) Plus of course my dancing. We were given two numbers to show off our skills. I chose a ballad (Pangako Sa ‘Yo) and a fast one (‘Feels So Nice’). Nobody else did that, I mean sing and dance, complete with dancers and difficult choreography.” Why “Pangako sa ‘Yo” (A Promise to You)? “I consulted my manager (Joji Dingcong) and musical director (Butch Miraflor) for that. It’s a very touching song that I have been identified with. And people in Malaysia have seen the TV soap where the song was adapted as soundtrack. True enough, the audience liked it very much.” Big break Vina is still visibly high from her victory. “I hope to do a major concert in Malaysia, maybe a Southeast Asian tour with the other Ikon contestants. The thought excites me. There’s a good chance it will push through. This is a very big break for me. Ayokong pakawalan ’to (I don’t want to let this go).” On the other hand, Vina expresses some frustration over the status of her recording career in the Philippines. Perhaps she’s not given the opportunity to sing the right kind of songs? She points out, “Actually, nagawa ko na lahat (I’ve done everything) -- OPM, English, pop, R&B, etc. I’ve recorded nine albums and the early ones went platinum and gold. But it’s hard to sell a lot of albums now, with so many singers and bands offering many choices. Plus, there is piracy to contend with. It’s all very sad.” Given a free rein, what kind of album would she like to record? “Maybe I’ll do five ballads and five fast numbers. I need a producer to guide me. Pop and R&B are still the sounds that I like. Also a little house, you know, dance remix material.” Just like Madonna? “I like her style, but Beyonce is my favorite. Her voice has power and she’s a gifted dancer. I also admire Christina Aguilera and J Lo, but they don’t have the complete package that Beyonce has.” Complete package Complete package is what Vina thinks will come in handy when she starts trotting her act in other Asean venues. “That’s what the judges in Ikon were looking for in the contest,” Vina says. “At first my manager and I were worried about the risks, like, what if I lost? That could mean losing face here, I mean I’ve invested so many years building a career in the Philippines, tapos matatalo lang ako (only to lose). That’s why I don’t like joining contests anymore. But then again, though we took a chance, I went in prepared.” Being prepared is a disposition she swears by. She has invested her show biz earnings in a family corporation which has interests in 30 branches of Ystilo Salon, 10 of which are owned, while the rest are franchises. Business-wise, she looks up to Sharon Cuneta, Vilma Santos and Maricel Soriano. “Magagaling sila humawak ng pera. (They know how to handle money.). ” As for romance, Vina is not in a relationship just now, having broken off with her Chinese businessman boyfriend Cedric Lee over a year ago. But she hints that “nandiyan pa rin naman siya. Kaya lang maraming hindrance e, ang hirap talaga pag show biz ka, walang privacy. (He's around, but there are snags. It’s really difficult to be in showbiz -- no privacy.)” Then again, Vina would rather take things in stride and dream of other things. “I want to have my own show. I want to act in another film.” She catches herself: “Naglambing daw ako sa ABS-CBN.”
By Inquirer BAGUIO CITY, Philippines--Musician Bamboo rocked the summer capital last week in a corporate-sponsored gig that drew hundreds of fans. But a proposed ordinance now says concert artists may only perform here if they help regulate the trash generated by their fans. Raising its environmental policy a notch higher, the city council discussed on Monday a measure that would require performers in live concerts that attract a large audience to prepare their own waste recycling programs before they could perform. Bamboo’s concert attracted at least 500 people who left behind 200 kilograms of trash, the city environment office reported. The solid waste management program's recycling projects in the barangay may reduce the city's daily waste average by 25 percent in one year, and controlling waste in live concerts and other activities would help the city attain that target, said Nazita Bañez, city environment officer. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
FILIPINO ethno-tribal rock band Kadangyan performs its haunting music during the inauguration of Accenture's new facility in Cebu. Video taken by INQUIRER.net reporter Erwin Oliva. For more videos from INQUIRER.net, visit iVDO.
FIRST you heard about The Police's reunion concert tour. Now, we have Van Halen announcing that they're coming back. But they're no longer the same band, as the official website announces. They will be joined by David Lee Roth -- yes, people, the guy who can jump high and still sing the high notes in their 1984 album, and Wolfgang, Eddie Van Halen's 16-year-old boy who will replace Michael Anthony on bass. Now you'll wonder how the band will sound this time. The last time I listened to Van Halen, I was disappointed. They were running low on gas and Gary Cherone (from another rock band, Extreme) was just not the right frontman for the band. That album tanked and we did not hear from the band again until today. The official website reports:
Beginning this September, in what promises to be the most exciting live tour this year, Van Halen will embark on a national concert tour throughout the U.S. and Canada with its original lead singer David Lee Roth for the first time in 22 years. Considered by fans and media alike as one of the most highly anticipated tours in rock and roll history, Roth, guitarist Eddie Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen will perform with Eddie's son, Wolfgang who joins the line-up as the band's bass player. Van Halen and Roth have not performed or recorded together since 1984's classic multi-platinum album 1984 and subsequent tour, making this tour truly a historic event.
HERE'S a video of the Jane McLean Trio performing a song that we Filipino tech journalists requested. This was taken at the Kelong restaurant near the Nirwana Gardens resort in Bintan, Indonesia during the appreciation dinner for the Kickstart Asia 2007 information technology forum organized by MediaConnect Asia. The Jane McLean Trio is composed of Jane McLean on vocals; Miles McLean on vocals and guitar; and Simon Hyett on drums. Video taken by INQUIRER.net reporter Alex Villafania. For more videos, visit INQUIRER.net's iVDO channel.
By Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The riotous, fun-loving rock band Kamikazee emerged as the big winner in the 20th Awit Awards held Wednesday night at the NBC Tent, The Fort, Taguig. Known for its metal-based sound and the humorous onstage antics of vocalist Jay Contreras, Kamikazee bagged five awards including Album of the Year ("Maharot"), Song of the Year ("Narda") Best Rock Recording ("Narda"), Best Performance by a Group (for "Narda") and Music Video of the Year ("Martyr Nyebera"). The band also shared the Best Selling Album award for the tribute CD "KaminAPO Muna." Another notable winner was the R&B group Kala, which won Best Performance by a New Group Recording Artist and Best World/Alternative/Bossa Music ("Jeepney"). Gary Valenciano won two awards for Best Performance by a Male Recording Artists and Best Ballad ("In Another Lifetime"). Jimmy Marquez was also honored for placing second in the 2006 Shanghai Asia Music Festival. The Awit Awards Night featured live performances by Francis M, Parokya ni Edgar, The Dawn, Sugarfree, Bamboo, Gary V with son Gabby, and Razorback's Kevin Roy jamming with two Pinoy rock legends, Wally Gonzales and Joey "Pepe" Smith. The complete list of awardees: Best Performance by a Female Recording Artist: Lani Misalucha ("I Live For Your Love") Best Performance by a Male Recording Artist: Gary Valenciano ("In Another Lifetime") Best Performance by a Duet: Mon David and Bituin Escalante ("Alone Together") Best Performance by a Group: Kamikazee ("Narda") Best Performance by a New Female Recording Artist: Amber ("Manila") Best Performance by a New Male Recording Artist: Gian Magdangal ("Himala") Best Performance by a New Group: Kala ("Jeepney") Best Instrumental: Jerome Rico ("Agua de Beber") Album of the Year: "Maharot" (Kamikazee) Song of the Year: "Narda" (Kamikazee) Best Selling Album: "KaminAPO Muna" (Various Artists) Best Ballad: "In Another Lifetime" (Gary Valenciano) Best Rock Recording: "Narda" (Kamikazee) Best World/Alternative/Bossa Music Recording: "Jeepney" (Kala) Best Rap Recording: "Ngayon ang Taon" (Francis M and Jungee Marcelo) Best Jazz Recording: "Skarlet" (Skarlet) Best R&B Recording: "A Single Soul" (Reuben Laurente and Regine Velasquez) Best Novelty: "Kring Song" (Jose and Wally) Best Song Written for a Movie/TV/Stage Play: "Majika" (Kitchie Nadal) Music Video of the Year: "Martyr Nyebera" (Kamikazee)
By Mark Bonifacio Inquirer DOMESTIC music still proves to be very much alive with the release of the new albums of two noteworthy OPM acts -- Miguel Escueta and Moonstar 88. Miguel Escueta recently launched his debut album "I Am M.E.," bannered by the single "Falling Away." His name may not ring a bell yet for some, but he has established a name for himself when he emerged as first runner-up in the "Acoustic Break" competition in 2003 and nominee for Best New Male Recording Artist in the 2005 Awit Awards. But his momentum was broken when he decided to finish his studies at the Ateneo de Manila University. With his love for music, he decided to try again and eventually got signed by MCA Music. Moonstar 88 is not exactly new to the music scene, having released two albums and spawning the hits "Torete," "Sulat" and "Sa Langit" with then Acel Bisa as their lead vocalist. Now connected with a new record label (Sony BMG), with a new vocalist, Maychelle Baay, and a new drummer, Bon Sundiang, joining its original members -- Herbert Hernandez (guitars) Paolo Bernaldo (bass) -- the band is back with "Todo Combo." The album includes the carrier single, "Tadhana," as well as the band's covers of the APO original, "Panalangin," (from the "Kami nAPO Muna" album) and the Yano hit, "Senti." Miguel and Moonstar 88 talk to Inquirer 2bU! about their music and their latest albums: How would you describe your album? Your music? MIGUEL ESCUETA (ME): I would describe my debut album to be a symbol of all the uncertainty, hardship and struggle that I had to go through to be able to actually sign with a major label and come out with a record. It is the fruit of having a dream and pursuing it no matter what obstacles may have come your way. I will always be grateful to MCA Music for giving me this chance of being able to fulfill this dream of mine. I believe that if you put your heart into accomplishing something, good things will always come out of it. I’d like to brand my music as modern alternative-rock, so I guess that would be the general sound of my album. HERBERT OF MOONSTAR 88: The sweet sounding vocals and very melodic tunes which are dominant in the previous albums can still be heard in "Todo Combo." The songs are a delicate balance between the more driving tunes and the more sentimental ones. The sound is heavily influenced by local ’90s band like Eraserheads and Yano. For Moonstar 88, how different is "Todo Combo" from your previous albums? PAOLO OF MOONSTAR 88: Todo Combo is more dynamic and upbeat. Lutong-luto na siya because it took us three years to complete the album, it’s been an on-and-off process so we get to hear the songs that we’re making from different perspectives. What can listeners expect from your album? ME: Listeners can expect a mix of fast songs and slow songs, as well as heavy and mellow ones. They can also expect a collection of heartfelt songs that every other guy or girl can relate to. I believe the songs on my album will be very involving for the listener, and in that way, I hope that my songs would mean something to them. MAYCHELLE OF MOONSTAR 88: It's a very solid album. Perfect balance between the more upbeat tracks and the more sentimental songs. We’re sure that people would be able to find at least one song they could relate to. How did you come up with the songs to be included in this album? ME: Choosing the songs for the album was a collaboration between George Mercado, Juni Devecais, MCA Music’s Ricky Ilacad and Wilson Cruz and myself. Upon signing with MCA, I gave all of my material. But even after that, I continued to write more songs. We picked what we thought to be nine of my strongest compositions. So the album is a combination of old songs that I already had before signing, and some others that I wrote after. BON OF MOONSTAR 88: We jam the songs over and over again, fix the arrangement and then we would just know if a song is already the way we wanted it. And then from there, if we’re happy enough with how it turned out, we include it in the album. Making songs has always been an easy process for the band. I guess ganun talaga pag enjoy ka sa ginagawa mo. Can you tell us more about the tracks on this album? ME: All the tracks on this album were written and composed by me. More often than not, I find myself writing about turning points in life: because it is in those times that you either go through a lot of difficulty or a lot of bliss. And it is in those times that I get inspired to write the most. There are also a couple of "anthem-themed" songs on the album ("Pull Through" and "Live It") that speak of making it through tough times and living your dreams, as well as some that reflect relationships from a particular point of view -- such as my first single, "Falling Away." I wouldn't be surprised if people find themselves to be in deep thought and reflection as they listen to some of my songs. HERBERT: We start off with the very upbeat "Tadhana," because we just want to dance. We have tracks like "Migraine," our personal favorite in the album, it's a driving tune but sentimental at the same time. We also have a track titled "Late Ka Na Naman," where Jay Contreras of Kamikazee did some vocal parts. There’s also a rework of the Yano classic "Senti" and the Apo hit "Panalangin." For Moonstar 88, why did you choose to cover Yano's "Senti"? PAOLO: We grew up listening to the music of Yano and we have lots of respect for them in terms of song writing. Were your songs culled from personal experiences? ME: Yes. The inspiration of my lyrics usually comes from personal experiences, whether it be my own or that of my friends and others close to me. There are also times when I theoretically put myself to be in a situation, I try to imagine how that would actually feel, and use that feeling to write lyrics. If you listen well to my songs, I believe that you would somehow get to know me to some extent. I also believe that my lyrics and the music that come off it somehow reflect that main type of music that I listen to and artists that have influenced me through the years. HERBERT: From our own and from the people around us. We even have a song, titled "Dot Song," that was inspired by one of our listeners whose name is Dot. How much has Moonstar 88 matured musically? PAOLO: We're much tighter during live performances. And in terms of song writing, it’s been a smoother process than ever. Komportable na kasi working with each other. We're also pretty much confident now as a band. No more worries or pressures, we just want to enjoy our music and play it to people. E-mail the author at email@example.com