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Getting to know them more: Lee, Tj, Junji, Miguel, Sammy, Bel

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While many music aficionados have a superficial knowledge of our local musicians and grazing familiarity with their names, I thought it would be very interesting and quite gratifying to get to know them better on a deeper level. So I have asked a number of the finest we have around today the same three questions. Their answers below will give us a clearer picture of what defines them now as musicians.

1. Lee Nadela (Bassist) of Slapshock.

Lee Nadela. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

INQ: What were the influences at home and/or outside of family which helped form your interest in learning your instrument of choice?

Lee: My father was the one who introduced me to music.  He was a school teacher by day and a musician by night. During the 80’s, he was one of the vocalists of a group called Harmony and Rhythm Band in Cebu City. He would sometimes take me to his late night gigs and I can remember falling asleep on the carpeted floor under the tables of the club they were playing at. I also got hooked early in music coz I was playing all his LP collections.

I got introduced to Queen, Earth Wind and Fire, Manhattan Transfer, The Beatles and a lot more. When I reached Grade 6, I picked up his old acoustic guitar and began to learn how to play it with the help of some chord charts found in his Jingle Songbook Magazines. It was in 2nd year High School when I decided to play bass and then my older brother recruited me to join his band called Agaw Agimat which then started my professional stint in the music business.

INQ: How and when did you realize you had a calling to be a full-pledged musician?

Lee: We were already playing as Slapshock during my college years in UP Diliman.  After graduating, I worked at the House of Representatives as a research staff of a Cebu congressman. Like my dad, I was an office employee by day and a musician by night.  I would sometimes go to our Slapshock gigs wearing my formal office attire.   I didn’t have a single tattoo then. During that time, being a musician for me like mostly would think is just a side job or you need a main job so you can continue to be in a band. I still carried that mentality even after we released two successful platinum albums already.  But on the onset of our 3rd album Project 11-41 in 2002, things started to change and I had these realizations on what really I wanted to do. That’s when I had what I call my awakening as a musician, or that moment I accepted that I’m gonna be on this 100%.  No plan B’s if this won’t work. And can’t go back to a day job either coz I started to get tattoos all over my body. We rented the first Slaphouse, lived with my band mates and our crew and made good music together. We had no bosses, no Bundy clocks, no deadlines. It was just us and our music.

INQ: How do you continue to hone your skills and continually raise the bar of excellence for yourself?

Lee: Best way for me to continue to improve is to keep performing and keep listening to others perform.  Experience still is my best teacher and I’m blessed my band is very active and we get to play to different cities, countries…different crowd, sound system, stage, production etc…All those factors will teach you a lot. Not one gig is similar to the others. You will always learn or pick up something different from the experience.

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2. Tj Brillantes (Drummer) of Greyhoundz.

Tj Brillantes of Greyhoundz. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

INQ: What were the influences at home and/or outside of family which helped form your interest in learning your instrument of choice?

Tj: My family definitely influenced me with regards to music. My Grandma played piano and my dad listened to a lot of music that somehow influenced my taste growing up. Drums was not my first love, it was the guitar that I really wanted to play. My younger brother had a drum set at home though and I eventually learned that, too.

INQ: How and when did you realize you had a calling to be a full-pledged musician?

Tj: I didn’t really think about it at that time. I just loved playing music with my band mates and was in it just for fun. I guess it began getting serious back in 1997, Greyhoundz scored a regular spot at the now defunct Club Dredd at EDSA through an audition and started gigging.

INQ: How do you continue to hone your skills and continually raise the bar of excellence for yourself?

Tj: I make it a point to keep an open mind when it comes to music. The wider your taste in music, the better you can be, in my opinion. It doesn’t matter what genre or band played a particular piece of music, you can pick up something new from everything out there. The challenge to make yourself appreciate and understand music in all its forms is always a good learning experience.

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3. Junji Lerma (Guitarist) of Hijo/Radioactive Sago Project.

Junji Lerma of Hijo. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

INQ: What were the influences at home and/or outside of family which helped form your interest in learning your instrument of choice?

Junji: My major musical influence would be my late father, Resty Lerma. He had a singing group during his school days. He was a complete Audiophile with tons of Albums and CDs under his collection. He always had a diverse selection of music playing around us growing up from Folk Music, Jazz and Classical such as The Beatles, America, Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary, Wes Montgomery, J.S. Bach etc. which probably explains why I gravitate towards these forms.

INQ: How and when did you realize you had a calling to be a full-pledged musician?

Junji:   I was a football player in my youth but it was in my Freshman Year in High School at DLS-Z that I discovered music alongside my good brother, Nathan Azarcon which altered the course of my life. We formed a band then called Bazurak which played Thrash Metal Music, Punk and Funk Rock. My love for Music brought me to the U.P. College of Music where for the next 5 years all I did was live, breathe and learn about the dance hits of the last 500 years via the different periods of Western Classical Music (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic, Classical and 20th Century). It was also there that I did my own research and study of Jazz when I wasn’t playing Classical Guitar.

INQ: How do you continue to hone your skills and continually raise the bar of excellence for yourself?

Junji: I still study music on my own time by searching the net for new players, sounds, techniques and theory. But I constantly still play Solo Classical Guitar for conditioning finesse and technique.

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4. Miguel Alamar Dayanghirang (Bassist) of Malay.

Miguel Alamar Dayanghirang of Malay. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

INQ: What were the influences at home and/or outside of family which helped form your interest in learning your instrument of choice?

Miguel: My dad’s a pretty good folk singer. He’s a Led Zep fan too. A handful members of my family also play the piano. I remember one of my uncles jazzified some tunes. Of course I didn’t know what the hell he was doing during that time, but it sounded good to me.

INQ: How and when did you realize you had a calling to be a full-pledged musician?

Miguel: After seeing the last scene of the movie great balls of fire. “If I’m goin’ to hell. I’m goin’ there playin’ the piano.” that scene reverberated throughout my childhood.

INQ: How do you continue to hone your skills and continually raise the bar of excellence for yourself?

Miguel: Practice-gig-practice-experiment-sound trip-sifra-gig-experiment-practice.

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5. Sammy ‘Faith’ Asuncion (Guitarist) of Kalayo.

Sammy ‘Faith’ Asuncion of Kalayo. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

INQ: What were the influences at home and/or outside of family which helped form your interest in learning your instrument of choice?

Sammy: I grew up in a family that is very musical. My father reads notes, plays piano, violin, piccolo, apart from being a district school supervisor. My elder brother is also a great guitar player and sings as well. The whole family jams a lot at home, harmonizing. That includes my mother, two sisters and two brothers. And there is always music to listen to everyday.

Outside the family, my neighbors in Malay balay where I grew up were into music as well, with one friend whose family owns a music store at that time when I was in high school; listening to the Beatles, Zombies, Pink Floyd, Hermans Hermits, Jimi Hendrix, Allman Brothers, and so on and so forth. I was also very active at school from being a grader, high school and at the university, joining programs, convocations and special events. I picked up guitar as my instrument of choice having admired my elder brother when I was around four years old til I was in high school.

INQ: How and when did you realize you had a calling to be a full-pledged musician?

Sammy: Right after I finished my BSBA Management at Ateneo de Cagayan also called Xavier University, I decided that i prefer to go ahead with my music instead of having a day time job.

INQ: How do you continue to hone your skills and continually raise the bar of excellence for yourself?

Sammy: Since then, I devoted myself to my music. I already started composing songs when I was in college, btw. I ended up in manila and started gigging and playing songs that were not actually common. And then. Paris. I took my music really seriously upon seeing lots of musicians who were really great and doing there own stuff as well. That challenged me a lot. That was the time I was really holding my guitar and practicing every day. Looking all the possibilities in playing and having my own trademark which I think I have now. To improve, I have to always correct my boring scales and I tend not to be satisfied with what I did. It’s hard to compare tastes in music but I feel gifted in having good ears and choose the beautiful lines that can make my soul dance or smile. My enthusiasm is growing every single day because I do love what i am doing… playing my guitar and writing my own stuff.

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6. Bel Sayson of The Music Source (Business Head), and Guitarist.

Bel Sayson of The Music Source (Business Head). CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

INQ: What were the influences at home and/or outside of family which helped form your interest in learning your instrument of choice?

Bel: My father plays worship music in a Protestant church for decades. I actually saw an old black and white photo of him playing when I was a kid that drew my interest in music. My mom also had a music bar when we were growing up, enabling me to listen to many types of genres.

INQ: How and when did you realize you had a calling to be a full-pledged musician?

Bel: Full-pledged in a sense that I have been in the music gear industry for the longest time. It’s my 18th non-stop years in the industry. I realized it was my calling early on. I did great in school (took up business) but my passion was music. It took me a short amount of time to know that I can excel in this industry as I can easily relate to both the creative (musicians) and business (principals) side of the spectrum

INQ: How do you continue to hone your skills and continually raise the bar of excellence for yourself?

Bel: Even at times when I do not have an active band, I need to continuously hone my craft as it is easier to convince people when you can back it up with skills. There is a need for me to know how each instrument plays and sound best. Gone are the days that I need to play fast and try to prove myself. Taste is more preferred these days and I hone that by listening to various types of new music.


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Tags: Bassist , Bel Sayson , Drummer , Greyhoundz , Guitar , Hijo , Junji Lerma , Kalayo , Lead Guitar Player , Lead Guitarist , Lee Nadela , Malay , Miguel Alamar Dayanghirang , Music , Radioactive Sago Project , Sammy 'Faith' Asuncion , slapshock , The Music Source , Tj Brillantes



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