Manila Magic excites the local music scene

Photos by Karen de la Fuente

What’s it like to dream in modern-day Manila? The rules have changed a lot, but if there’s one thing we’re sure of, it’s that simple hard work doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. It’s crazy to think that it was just a few months ago when Tim Marquez and Zild Benitez first performed in public as the electronic duo Manila Magic, then opened for the Manila show of Canadian band BadBadNotGood a week ago — and now, they’re back to doing their homework and studying for finals. No albums, no big TV guesting, not even a lot of written features. So how do they do it? For Tim and Zild, it’s just a matter of making music that they love. No pressure. No compromise. Perhaps that’s the magic: having the courage to let things be. When the right things come together at the right time, the only thing you can do is grab the opportunity — and that they do so well. They’re still just making small waves at gigs here and there, but who says that’s a bad place to be in?

Our 20th bagets birthday bash was a coming together of young creatives who helped shape the youth culture of today. But it also marked a brand new decade and celebrates the new generation of creatives to emerge along with it. Eighteen-year-old Tim Marquez and 19-year-old Zild Benitez of the electronic duo Manila Magic are just two of them. Thanks to our ninongs and ninangs from Wanderland Music Festival, we were able to hear their music live at last week’s #YSProm. Young STAR also sat down with them to get to know more about the story behind their nostalgic sound.

“Bago kami lumabas we made sure that we could make music that sounds good; that it’s worth your while. We don’t want to go out there showing nothing.”

YOUNG STAR: The sound of Manila Magic is electronic, but both of your bands are alternative pop rock.

ZILD BENITEZ: I like Tim’s idea of bringing back the sound of the ‘80s. That’s the era of synthesizers and the influence of our present electronic music was during the ‘80s. It wasn’t our purpose to sound electronic but that’s the only resource that we have. We used electronic (instruments) to make music that our minds were making.

Ako lumaki na exposed to the music industry. I used to play with Kitchie (Nadal), as a session bassist, and Barbie Almalbis. Nandun ako sa side na ganun because of my (musician) dad. I think this is a new experience — creating songs with this guy and our bands. Very surreal. Mas napaparamdam mo yung dating nasa isip mo lang. Actually, we didn’t really plan to have gigs.

So when you guys originally got together to make music, what was the plan if not to perform?

TIM MARQUEZ: When we joined Wanderband, that was the first time (we performed live). But we’ve been making music for a year now.

ZB: It’s (meant to be) like a studio band.

TM: Pang iTunes.

ZB: Bago kami lumabas we made sure that we could make music that sounds good; that it’s worth your while. We don’t want to go out there showing nothing.

Throwing it back: Despite not being born in the ’80s, the boys of Manila Magic capture the music of the era perfectly.

You got a lot of exposure from joining Wanderband and you just recently opened for BadBadNotGood when they were in Manila.

TM: Kind of. I guess people saw us. May video din

ZB: ‘Di ko nga alam ba’t nagustuhan nila. It was just a silhouette of us… [Laughs]

TM: BadBadNotGood is a big band and I love them. We couldn’t say no. It was a good offer.

Nostalgia is the current direction in pop culture right now.

TM: Yeah. Personally, I’m really influenced by the ‘80s. I really love Michael Jackson. I didn’t really think of us just going with the trend. But fortunately, people love the ‘80s now and they love what we create so, yeah, that’s a blessing.

ZB: We just make music. We just need to grab the opportunity and have fun together as students of music production.

TM: It’s not really our plan to cut through the noise. This is really just a side project. It’s just happening. No long-term (plans) yet.

We’ll just keep making music… as long as we’re friends. (laughs)

‘Di naman kayo pinanganak nung ‘80s but why do you feel so much about it? How do you try to translate that?

TM: The ‘80s had this idea of moving forward. It’s just inspiring to see artists like David Bowie. Nothing is original.

ZB: It’s just a combination of all the ideas you’ve heard or you’ve seen. That’s art. Everything is just a juxtaposition of every other idea and originality is nonexistent.

Special thanks to AGU JUANEGO
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