Indie Showcase: July Rain
It is high time the spotlight be focused also on our indie bands and solo artists. They do form a deep well of diverse and amazing talents in the local scene. I will be showcasing once in a while an indie band or solo artist that to my mind deserves a look and more attention. So below, let’s get to know July Rain.
- Describe your beginnings as a solo artist?
July Rain: Technically, I am only a solo artist on my debut album but on my live gigs from the time I started, I have always been a part of a group then I formed my 6 piece band here in Manila 2 years ago then decided to go back to basics with an acoustic trio. I am the band leader and representative of the group as of 5 years ago.
I was discovered by my mentor and guitarist till now, Reuel, back in Baguio, I was jamming along Session Road with some visual artist friends, not knowing that Sir Reuel was already eyeing me to replace one of his singers who had to stop singing. At first, I was just supposed to be a backing vocalist while I learn and train some more. I was just 14 or 15 that time.
As a rebel teenager, being a professional singer never crossed my mind. I loved singing ever since I was a child but gigging was so alien to me. After 2 months, I became one of the lead vocalists of the group. With training and discipline, I learned how to become an effective front-woman and a very professional singer in so short-a-time. That was almost 10 years ago and I still remember it like it was just yesterday.
I remember those years when I was still searching my identity as a musician, so many failures, and criticisms. It’s never easy when you aim for perfection or even close to perfection, I am very hard on myself and never gave myself some credit for what I achieve with regards to my singing. The trial and errors I had to get through with my voice. The rejections and the discouragements. I was very young and easily affected but good thing I had my bandmates who helped and protected me as I mature and find my voice. I’m totally a different person and singer now, I’m very sure of that.
- What/who are your musical influences?
July Rain: My first musical influence was my father, he was a local Folk-Rock and country singer back in the 80s. I thank him for letting my siblings and I grow up with Elvis, The Beatles and Bee Gees songs playing at home every day. Folk-rock music and most oldies but goodies songs are my forever favorites.
I listen to a lot of (besides the three I mentioned earlier) Led Zeppelin, Skid Row, Etta James, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ronnie James Dio, Blues goddesses of the 1910s like Mamie Smith and Victoria Spivey or Ruth Brown, Steve Perry, Toto, LeAn Rimes, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lady Gaga, Lara Fabian, Eagles, Bread, America, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson and Jackson 5, Mariah Carey, Bruno Mars and Jason Mraz. Gosh… I have sooo many to mention. They all influence my music and inspire me as a singer. They all come from all styles and genres of music.
I consider myself a singer who sees music as one so I don’t categorize by their genre, If I like the band/artist and the music then I will be listening to it. I see genres as only names to label or describe the sound of a particular song.
- Can you describe your style of music to the unfamiliar?
July Rain: My singing is greatly influenced by the blues and soul singers and the songs I released were bluesy in singing but alternative rock and pop rock in overall musical expression and arrangement. I wanted to bring out a sound that I think is close to the Filipino ears. Different but familiar, and fresh!
Even if my singing is inspired by the blues, my aim is to have a singing skill that fits all kinds of music, a very versatile tone, and singing style.
- What do you think of the current local scene?
July Rain: The live music scene? One word. Difficult.
They say Metro Manila is the place to be for musicians, that it’s easy to get “discovered”, oh yes in the 90s! But now? That’s very RARE. I remember before Sir Reuel and I came down from Baguio almost 5 years ago, we hear Manila and Baguio people say that the demand for bands/groups in Manila is so high because there are just too many bars. Of course, we were very optimistic and overwhelmed with that info!
When we finally started looking for gigs here in Metro Manila, we saw the real situation of musicians. Survival of the fittest! It’s not even how good you are, but it’s more of who you know and how kiss-a** you are. You have to find the place that fits you and find people who will treat you right and fairly.
I could recall so many encounters with bad mannered and arrogant musicians and venues or people who take advantage of musicians.
You will hear musicians who say “it’s okay” or “it’s easy, masaya“. Maybe those musicians were blessed to have a hit song that’s why they don’t know how we, local musicians feel or performing music is just a hobby. Anyway, it’s difficult and challenging. If you wanna be known in Manila as one of the best, then you need a lot of courage and patience. A weak hearted musician can’t survive Manila, I met a lot of singers from nearby and far provinces who gave up and went home after a month.
Our local mainstream music scene…
I want to complain but complaining will do nothing for me. I understand that the music industry is a business. Can I blame them for banking on famous actors/actresses who are not singers, but they get albums after albums? Nope… just like any business, they too are trying to make money. I understand the sure and guaranteed sales. I understand the business and that has been happening since day one of our music industry. Kung san kikita, dun sila. Many might say “pera pera nalang never mind the talent”. For me kasi, try to see or listen to the talented ones, marami sila, may label man o indie. Music does not stop only in the mainstream scene.
Maybe 6 years ago, I would be very angry too. But learning the music scene, it is what it is. We just have to find our own way of penetrating the mainstream scene and making our own mark in Philippine music. And that’s what I’m trying to do with my original songs/album.
- Any upcoming gigs you would like to promote?
July Rain: As of now, I had to cut back on my singing nights because I can feel that I need a rest for my voice to recover from the 4 years of non-stop singing. But to maintain my singing and ear training, I decided to sing once a week.
I perform at Stone House Music Hub located at E Rodriguez Avenue between Balete Drive and Tomas Morato Ave every Wednesdays 8:30 pm onwards. My acoustic trio sings a lot of oldies from the 60s to 90s and also some contemporary songs.
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