KJ, A New Collaboration Band Featuring Kuya Kurt and Jyel

Illustration by: singer-songwriter Jong Sumangil

A new collaborative project has emerged in the independent/underground scene here in Manila that features two of the most prominent advocates of independent music, Kuya Kurt (Sigwada Experiment) and Jyel (Sensitivo).

Simply called as KJ, they started out with fun jams during sets of each group and in drinking sessions and after those sessions, they’re now a band!

The group is fronted by the two and features a cast of other musicians from the scene – Chitols Asprec (Sigwada Experiment) on bass, Glenn Mapue (Mushroom and Mint) on guitars, yours truly also on guitars and Rod Jaropay (Mushroom) on drums. The band is a mix of Sensitivo, Sigwada Experiment and Mushroom. Check out their music as well.

Lots of “wasakenrol” will be heard and witnessed definitely and they’re set to deliver their brand of music to the public and bring the house down.

The band plays the songs impromptu and unrehearsed since each member have their own busy schedules so what you hear/see is what you get.

Here’s the debut performance of the group at Conspiracy Garden Cafe, an original song titled “Rakrakan sa Langit” (Rock n’Roll in Heaven).


Featured Song: Kimberly Collado and Lester Namocatcat’s Hibang

Whenever I hear someone says OPM is dead or songwriting is dead here in the Philippines, my initial reaction has always been, huh?! Is this person aware of the scene? Because if you will see the independent or underground circuit, we have abundant of talented songwriters and performers waiting to be heard and get played on the radio. Well businesswise I think it may be true for them (radio stations have been playing foreign songs, the majors are into revival of old classics as well as reviving top 40 hits of today which is killing the craft), but if you’ll get a look of events like the Songwriter’s Night held every third Monday of the month at Conspiracy Garden Cafe in Visayas Ave, Quezon City, there are already plenty of talents to watch out for, and they’re performing their own original compositions, most only heard via posts on the internet, and just outside Songwriter’s Philippines, there are other songwriting groups as well, particularly 7101 Music Nation, which boasts of upcoming artists.

Batch 3 members Kimberly Collado and Lester Namocatcat, two of the talented artists I met with the group, have this great song collaboration and I was honored to jam it with them. Impromptu. The two performed “Hibang” (means crazy in English) at Songwriter’s Night event and also joining them were percussionist/guitar luthier JP Hernandez on djembe.

Here’s a vid from that event.

Escape the C music

Escape the C EP Launch

Being accessible to various artists, playing and collaborating with other bands, it feels great to share your stuffs and play nice tunes with them. It opens you up on all genres and allows to explore the things you haven’t done before.

One of my latest main band projects is Escape the C, which released their EP last year. The group’s influences (I’m not sure if they would agree with me on this haha) vary from world music to trip hop to blues/soul to indie alternative.

So this is far different from the other bands I’m with which played alternative pop rock, new wave indie pop, because 1. majority of the members are women, 2. the band uses different percussion instruments that bring the natural vibe 3. it unleashed my other influence, women of rock hehe. I joined them as a late addition, pretty much similar to what happened when I joined Crude Oz and like the others, it’s fun playing with these people.

The EP launched went well, with other performances that include Jeff Pagaduan and Diwa de Leon. It was held at Conspiracy Garden Cafe last November 2012.

Escape the C are Frances Escape, Kate Villaflor, Ony Martinez, Dawani de Leon, Zab Reyes and Sean Fortunato.

You can check out the band’s music via their Reverbnation page.

Diwa De Leon event Sinag De Leon

Memories on Two Strings

Music and arts go hand in hand. Last Saturday, I went to Conspiracy Garden Cafe to check out friends in an art exhibit and album launch. It was a great event that featured Sinag de Leon‘s art opening of her paper cut creations which was inspired by the music of her brother Diwa de Leon‘s latest solo LP, Memories on Two Strings. The gallery boasted of beautifully created artworks that would run until the 31st of January 2012.


Diwa, also a member of the Pinoy world music group called Makiling, uses a Hegalong instrument, a two-string instrument from the Philippines, thus the title of the album.


Opening the night was Jeff Pagaduan, who performed his original compositions in front of the awed crowd with his ala Andy Mckee style of guitar playing while singing. After Jeff was the main event. Diwa, along with friends Aba Dalena, Zab Reyes on guest vocals, Jp Hernandez and Frances Escape on percussion did songs from the current and previous album.


The album Memories on Two Strings is a two-set CD that also features Cooky Chua of Color It Red and Charice’s vocal coach Jeanne Vicars on guest vocals. The songs give a nice, chillaxing vibe, and as you listen to the tunes, the more you get hooked at them, at the same time it serves as a lesson101 of sort because it allows the listeners to get exposed of this awesome local string instrument. With the mix of popular music of different genres and the Hegalong, it’s a whole new experience. Containing 25 great songs, it has everything on the menu from upbeat to mellow to something that rocks.


Check out Memories on Two Strings.


Here’s the single from the album entitled “Moonrise” featuring Cookie Chua on vocals.



Impromptu Jam @ Songwriters’ Night, Sitting In With The Group X2M

Last night was another jam time at Songwriters’ Night in Conspiracy Garden Cafe at Visayas Ave. I was asked late by my friends to sit in to their group X2M, since they, the core members will not be there. So it’s another impromptu jam, and with the songs emailed to me before I went to the venue, there’s no time to practice hehe, only, I listened to their songs posted on their website, tried to get the feel of the songs, and as what Filipinos say it, “Bahala na“. Yeah, that was inside my head when I got there, bahala na, anything goes. And I think it was also what Drew had in mind, since he’ll be singing the songs aside from playing the bass parts hehe. So it was X2M and friends performing, minus the X2Ms of course, we were the “and friends” group. 🙂


Was surprised also with new talents performing that night, their songs were good, easy listening stuffs, it chillaxed my mood of the evening.


This was one of the vid taken from last night, I’ve seen one clip and some parts I did were awful, hit the wrong notes, acheche.. This song, seemed to be ok though, but I hope I did justice to it and the rest of the songs. To listen to the original arrangements, please visit X2M’s website which by the way I did a collaboration work on one song :