Munimuni takes a spiritual approach to the folk rock genre

This Q&A is from the 5th issue of our zine, The Youth Is On Fire. Read the full interview here.

To know Munimuni is to understand majesty. Majesty to them is marilag — hopeful, resilient. Or as they sing on Marilag: “Hindi maitatago, hindi maikukubli / ang mundo ay binabalot / ng iyong pagbangon muli.” They call their music “Makata Pop” — think The Oh Hellos mixed with a touch of The Strokes, lyrics reminiscent of Huseng Batute and the book of Psalms. Their songs are at once wakeful and serene, restful and filled with anxious contemplation. Its members navigate these sentiments with ease.

We catch up with Munimuni members AJ Jiao, TJ de Ocampo, John Owen Castro, and Red Calayan to talk about their origins, their futures, their influences, and all that traverses between.

To start things off, do tell us about how Munimuni was formed.

TJ: Well, simply put, in the beginning there were three guys: AJ, Moses, and Red. Never met Moses because he moved to Tuguegarao. I join the band when I transferred to UP Diliman around 2012-13. We start writing songs together. I leave for Japan in 2014. It’s around this time that Owen comes along, starts playing for the band, and eventually becomes a member. They [Red, Owen, and AJ] start playing songs together. I come back 2015, then we start playing together as a four piece band, with a session bassist. Our first four piece gig together [AJ, TJ, Owen, Red] was in Enderun. And then we played together for a couple more months, before recording our EP in 2016, and releasing it March 2017.

Red: We all came from UP and church, and started jamming in dorms and boarding houses and AJ’s super masculine indie-film quality apartment —

AJ: Na sobrang grainy!

Red: And people came and went, and our sound just kept growing to where it is now.

Making melodies: Munimuni introduces a genre they like to call “Makata Pop.”

Given the playful lyricism in your songs, where do you draw your lyrical inspiration from?

AJ: Honestly, I don’t have much of a background in Filipino literature. I am not good at writing in Filipino, prose-wise. But I guess listening to a lot of OPM growing up helped. Rivermaya were my idols — sina Rico Blanco. Yung mga sinulat rin ng Sugarfree with sina Ebe [Dancel] too. But mostly, my [chief inspirations are my] experiences and fragmented thoughts. And I dunno — I guess it’s just easier to translate them to paper by writing Filipino poems.

TJ: I was inspired to write in Filipino when I got into Japanese culture and music, actually. I grew to love local bands there like Indigo La End, and how good their songs sounded in Japanese. It inspired me to do the same with our own language. Something also that I found not so much of in our indie music scene here today, with everyone writing in English, with those with access to the really good bands we listen to are mostly English-speakers and whatnot. As for actual books and poems, well, I really like Psalms and the Book of Job. There’s just something about authors that write about the depths of their soul to beings they can’t see that speak to me.

 

Read the full interview here. For more information on Munimuni, you can check out their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp.

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