11/06/2015

Electric dreams

by  Jam Pascual
Photo by Cenon Norial
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When we say that the local music scene is thriving, we rarely think of the veterans. The seasoned legends who paved the way for creativity to flourish today are the reason that local music has a history, a tradition and a solid network of roots to keep it firmly planted in what’s real. But when the local music scene thrives, it evolves. The game constantly changes, and the musicians that emerge from their bedrooms and step on the stage are the ones mapping out the uncharted territories of our sonic landscape, pushing the envelope of sound further and further until boundaries become blurred and divisions disappear. It’s the acolytes, the newcomers, the dreamers that make local music what it is today.

We at Young STAR had the privilege of acquainting ourselves with two of the local underground’s gamechangers. Curtismith (Mito Fabie) and Kidthrones (Eric Trono), two stalwarts of creative collective Logiclub, have been making their monikers known, tirelessly gigging in live hotspots all over the city. Here, we discuss their origins, the state of the scene, and what it means to chase one’s dreams.

Kidthrones

The name Kidthrones may be new to some, but Eric Trono himself is no stranger to the scene. Forming one third of electronic trio Danceplaycreate (the name a philosophy in itself), Eric formed Kidthrones — a combination of a riff on his last name and his feeling at the time about being new to the scene — as a means of exercising creative freedom.

Genre classifications don’t come easy in the world of music, and while some might characterize the stylings of Kidthrones as an eclectic mix of hip-hop beats and ambient electronic textures, Eric admits that when it comes to the creative process, pinning things down can be tricky. “It’s hard to categorize things eh. Sometimes it just happens when you make music. It turns out the way it is and sometimes it even surprises you after.”

Performing as Kidthrones, Eric often has to deal with the implications of a divided scene — one where you have to balance the expectations of your audience with creative integrity. “Most of the time, I feel like I can’t play my originals at gigs, because, you know, it’s a party, people wanna turn up. It’s a different thing as compared to a curated event where you have freedom to play your own stuff,” he says. “So I’ve compartmentalized these things. I do this type of thing in a better venue for this type of sound, as when I’m out partying and people wanna hear a certain sound, so I kinda provide that sound, with my own twist.”

In order to nourish that scene, divisions often need to be bridged. For Kidthrones, the key is opening people up to different types of sound. But with the ubiquity of programs like Ableton and the tendency for people to piggyback on musical trends, there’s a risk of copycats entering the fray. When that happens, Eric trusts the culture to be discerning.

“Some people get into this without the heart and soul, the purpose, the right attitude,” he says. “But you can tell from the music. When you hear it, you’re gonna find out, like, whether the person is legit or not. Ganun lang naman when you’re making music. It’s still an art.”

Despite the challenges facing this particular niche of the local music scene, Eric keeps things real. He and the rest of Logiclub, dead-set on bringing new vibrations to the public, aim to bring people together through created, curated events — gigs in which original songs are king and innovation is the law of the kingdom. Kidthrones, though his name resonates with images of royalty, doesn’t look for praise, but for a way to reach out through music. He explains by way of metaphor.

“I had a realization while I was at the beach. The analogy is, whether I wanted to be a flower, or a branch. ‘Cause the flower is like, you know what that entails. With the branch, you connect people, you help people grow. You know? And for the longest time, I’ve always wanted to be a flower, I guess. But there’s also beauty in being a branch, a connector, someone who helps out people.”

Curtismith

When their “IDEAL” mixtape came out, Curtismith’s name began to spread like wildfire. Laid over the tape’s eclectic stream of beats were an undeniable sense of flow and lyrics that seemed to pendulum-swing back and forth between doubt and hope yet grounded in an implacable optimism. It’s a fascinating thing, listening to music that talks about pursuing dreams, at the same time knowing that the music itself is dream made reality. And Mito Fabie, the man behind the moniker, is an expert dreamer.

You could say that the birth of Curtismith itself was the result of a daydream. Mito’s beliefs are generally rooted in a healthy distrust for the status quo, the mainstream aspects of our culture, the kinds of things that the masses — as loaded as the term “masses” is today — are taken in by.

“Lo and behold,” he says, “when I was thinking of this, I see a billboard of Anne (Curtis). I remember reading that she was a platinum award-winning artist, and you know, we know so many artists who’re so deserving of that title, and at that point in time, my belief was that her music did not get her that title, but rather it was who she was.” The Curtismith name was a tongue-in-cheek play on that understanding, using a popular name in the interest of not letting people know who you are.

Another thing that separates Mito from such figures of mainstream culture is that he isn’t concerned about sales. “IDEAL” was put out and circulated for free, with no expectation of profit, and the EP, which the Logiclub rapper is currently putting together, will be the same. “I’m trying to convey that I’m not trying to make the money from the music. Because if that ever happens, then it’ll no longer be for the music but rather for the money.”

That isn’t to say that Curtismith completely disregards money. He recounts instances of being unfairly compensated for live performances, and how much it sucks that other musicians in the scene are often pressured to play for the sake of exposure.

“We’re not given the creative freedom that we deserve. And we’re not compensated for the amount of work that we put in, in terms of just performances for example,” he says, on the greater problem of how society tends to treat creatives. “And I mean, I understand that you have to hustle, you have to grind, but at the same time, I feel like the people who hire us don’t respect the amount of work that we put into this, or the amount of effort.”

But things have been looking up for Curtismith. Gigs keep rolling in for this fire-spitting phenom. And each rap, each rhyme, each verse, is driven by a desire to change the status quo. “Hopefully things change, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing, that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. Because we’re trying to change it,” he says. “I think if our generation doesn’t do it, then, f**k, who will?”

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