There is such a palpable and distinct energy that surrounds and exists in Saguijo. It is not only because of the presence of the youth who troop to the place to watch the different bands showcase their passionate drive in making music. But the boundless and overflowing—almost reckless—excitement and enthusiasm of these young people and the deep deisre of the musicians to release and express their artistic creativity with complete abandon make for a symbiotic force that makes Saguijo pulsate with life. Indeed, that anyone who goes there will be cosumed as well with as much interested anticipation of enjoying the music.
I still remember the very first time I went to Saguijo and that was in the year 2006. When I went there, it wasn’t really what I had quite expected as the venue itself seemed to me like a small house that was roughly converted to a makeshift bar and which made for a very tight “standing room only” place. But despite that, this venue has housed, launched and started the careers of some mainstream current bands that we know of. Saguijo has become a breeding ground or training base for future bands to watch out for.
And interestingly enough, one of these key figures at Saguijo who keeps the place alive and kicking and is responsible for introducing new bands is a young and petite lass named Nicole Sarmiento. Nicole is the head of a production outfit called “Red Ninja” since 2009 to be exact.
At present, she manages two bands called “Lions and Acrobats” and “Curbside”. Twenty-five year-old Nicole is busy making sure everthing runs smoothly for her bands’ day to day operations as she takes care of their publicity and promotions and getting gigs for them.
And this was one of the reasons why I felt she would be an interesting subject to feature and learn more about because I foresee her becoming a “big-name” manager in the future. In fact, she will be the first band manager ever that I will write about and interview. The role she has is one of much importance which ensures that there is an additional steady and reliable roster of bands that we get to watch on Saguijo because of her production outfit. Come join me as I interview band manager: Nicole Sarmiento.
INQ: How long have you been active in saguijo?
Nicole: I first went to Saguijo in 2010. Oh wait no, 2006. Red Ninja started gigs there in 2009
INQ: Who thought of “Red Ninja”?
Nicole: My cousin actually cause we used to be partners but she got busy. :) We just wanted something new.
INQ: Do you view being a band manager as a lifetime career, or something that you would do for the long run (years)?
Nicole: I really want to, but just part time.
INQ: When were you bitten by the “music bug”? How old were you when music entered the equation?
Nicole: When I was a kid, I’d always sing in my room pretending I was in a concert. Hahaha.
My mom also is a big fan of music, she used to make me listen to Sting and Bob Marley.
But I guess, it was when I was around 16 when I first really wanted to get into the industry. I had a band in one of the clubs back in high school.
INQ: Name an artist that you looked up to? Someone you idolized as a kid?
Nicole: Billie Joe Armstrong.
INQ: How many roles do you have as a band manager?
What do you exactly do?
Nicole: As a band manager, my priority is to book gigs for the band and basically schedule their life. Haha.
So that includes, marketing their gigs and merchandise, updating their social media accounts (although we all do this together), schedule their recording, read over contracts offered for them and revise if needed, scheduling photoshoots and video shoots.
Looking for gigs, doing PR work, etc.
INQ: What do you enjoy most being a band manager? The advantages or perks of such role?
Nicole: Being right in front of the bands as they perform and just really getting into the music.
INQ: What do you think of the current state of the local scene?
Nicole: I think it’s really difficult to define the current state of the local scene. Underground music is flourishing. There are a lot of great bands out there that need to be heard. Medyo sayang na hindi sila lahat naririnig, pero konting tiyaga at mahabang pasensya lang kailangan. I believe that people who deserve to be on top will eventually get there.
INQ: How important is a venue like Saguijo to you?
Nicole: Saguijo is somewhat an institution already in the underground scene. Bands want to play there, music lovers know to go there. I’ve been visiting Saguijo since 2006 and it has given me plenty of friends and enemies. Places like Saguijo, Route 196 and the other bars that closed before (Obsidian, Magnet, 6Underground) bring people together through music (and alcohol).
INQ: What do you think can be done to improve/help our struggling local bands?
Nicole: Like I said, konting tiyaga at mahabang pasensya lang. Practice makes perfect. Learn to market your band well. Talk to people. Be professional with what you do.
INQ: What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?
Nicole: Five years from now, I’m gonna finally be a graduate and hopefully will have a full-time job. If music can become a full-time job then great, if it remains to be part-time then it’s fine by me. It helps me keep sane whenever I’m busy with school or other things. But 5 years from now, I’d like to have a job. I’d like to see that all the work I’ve done for my bands have been worth it.
INQ: Was there any specific band manager, foreign or local, who you admired or who greatly influenced you?
Nicole: I honestly don’t know band managers of foreign bands. But locally, I often get advice from Bubi Sanchez (Greyhoundz), especially when I first started.
INQ: If you could choose to learn and play any instrument, what would that be?
Nicole: I would choose to play either the bass or the drums.
INQ: If you could choose to manage any foreign band, which would that be?
Nicole: If I could choose to manage any foreign band. Man that’s hard. I’d want to manage Green Day just because they’re my favorite band. Or maybe Mae.
INQ: If you could choose to manage any local band, which would that be?
Nicole: Locally, I wouldn’t want to change a thing. I love managing Curbside and Lions & Acrobats. :) They’re my family. I think there’s a reason why my bands call me “mama.” Basically managing for me is taking care of the band, supporting them and making sure they get what they deserve. Book gigs, market the band, make sure they keep their head in the game. That’s basically all I do.
INQ: What does managing mean to you?
Nicole: I think there’s a reason why my bands call me “mama.” Basically managing for me is taking care of the band, supporting them and making sure they get what they deserve. Book gigs, market the band, make sure they keep their head in the game. That’s basically all I do.
INQ: What is your message to the loyal patrons of your production outfit “Red Ninja”?
Nicole: I’m thankful for the people who have stuck around since 2009. People like Jon Manguerra and Nino Avenido who don’t go to all the gigs, but try to go to all the gigs that they can. I’m also thankful for the other productions that we’ve worked with like iScream Production, Dogtown Music, Mary Moon and Solid Production. But of course, I’m most thankful for the bands who have really been there for Red Ninja since 2009 like Mayonnaise, Pitik, Carlos Castano, Nino Avenido, Mara and Sandata. I don’t think my prod could function if it weren’t for them so thank you.
INQ: Any message to your family?
Nicole: My family is everything to me and I’m really grateful that they’re very supportive of what I do. :) My second family Curbside & Lions and Acrobats are my babies and I’m grateful that we’re more than just a band. We’re brothers and sisters.
INQ: What is your philosophy in life?
Nicole: My philosophy in life is a line from “No Such Thing” by John Mayer. “I am invincible as along as I’m alive.”