Indie Showcase: Ana Almenario
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 Ana Almenario.
1) Describe your beginnings as an artist?
Ana Almenario: My love for music runs in the family. My parents told me I started singing when I was just about 2 and a half y/o. I would steal the mic away from my dad while he was singing, imitate his actions and mimic the words poorly but surprisingly in-tune. They said that that was when they realized I had a heart for music.
Growing up, I joined multiple school singing competitions and always won 1st runner-up, but never the champion. I used to refer to myself as an underdog. But i never gave up on music. Started playing guitar around 6th grade but stopped in HS to focus on my singing. My friends and I even formed a band, joined a school competition(battle of the bands) and won with flying colors! Then I started going to my brother’s gigs to watch him play and I always enjoyed jamming with him on stage. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to become a musician when I grew up. I even enrolled for voice lessons which was a big help for my stage performance.
I joined Coro San Benildo (my school choir in the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde) in college (one of the smartest decisions I ever made) for the sake of scholarship which thankfully I was granted a 100%, thanks to our mentor/conductor, sir Lorenz Gealogo and the head of our Office of Culture and Arts, sir Gil Castillo. I was introduced to classical singing (I was a soprano 1). Frankly, being a member of Coro San Benildo was one of the highlights of my college life. I got to travel different countries and represent my own. We would join choral competitions around the globe and win on some of the categories we joined in.
When I graduated in Music Production, I decided to join a couple of bands called Joi De Vivre, Southern Lane, and eventually, my brother’s pop jazz band (Smooth Cats which was later on changed to Karma) and become their lead vocalist/composer/interpreter of some of our original compositions. I also co-formed an acapella group called DynaMix and joined an acapella competition called Akapela Open. We won 2 consecutive yrs as 1st runner-up and we were even invited to guest on KMJS(Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho), SPS(Sunday Pinasaya GMA7), and ASAP(ABS-CBN). I had quite a lot on my hands but I made it work at the time. I was finally living the dream! It was fun for a while but after a few years, my band and I grew apart and had different perspectives in life and in music so we just decided to call it quits. But recently I’ve found a rekindled love for guitar and am now practicing to be able to play and perform on my own.
For now, I’ve recently joined a band called LoL (Listen or Leave) which is an alternative pop/rock band. We’re currently working on our original songs as of the moment so we’d be able to record and hopefully release them very soon. I’ve also been doing session gigs with some of the best musicians I know like Conscious and The Goodness, Soundtrip PH, Gig Manila, etc. I’ve also worked with Ocean Adventure as a singer/composer/arranger, did voice recordings for film soundtracks at Erasto films, and did voice recordings for Sonic State Studio.
2) What/who are your influences in music?
Ana Almenario: I grew up having a very diverse taste in music. From folk to alternative to pop, r&b, OPM, soul and jazz.
I got my love for folk music from my brother, Rey Almenario Jr (he was a folk singer back then) i’d enjoy listening to his renditions of James Taylor, Jim Croce and Bread back when he used to do solo gigs.
Then I discovered alternative like songs from 3 Doors Down, Lifehouse, The Calling, Paramore (my personal favorite), Switchfoot, Maroon 5, Avril Lavigne, some OPM alternative bands like Parokya ni Edgar, E-heads, Bamboo, etc (I was a bit of a tomboyish rocker in my awkward younger days).
Then there came a time I became obsessed with r&b & soul like songs from Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Beyonce & Destiny’s Child, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Jojo, Sara Bareilles, Jay-r, Brian McKnight, etc. I was convinced I had to master the art of r&b runs which I never really excelled in but still trying my best to be good at it.
Then more recently, because of my old band and our image I had to study jazz and Latin jazz. I listened to Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Sergio Mendes, Patti Austin, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Gladys Knight & the pips, etc. It was a real challenge but it motivated me to work hard and master the art of improvisation.
3) Can you describe your style of music to the unfamiliar?
Ana Almenario: Being an artist with a LOT of musical influences, it’s pretty hard for me to describe my style. Most people see me as a versatile singer but honestly I find it difficult to pinpoint what it is that sets me apart from other musicians.
I’ve went through a lot of styles from different genres, some say i have a jazzy voice, but I find a certain attachment to alternative singing style which is what I’m focusing on now.
4) What do you think of the current local scene?
Ana Almenario: OPM is alive and thriving again(not that it was ever dead)! A lot of musicians in this generation were successful in reviving the spirit of OPM. I’m happy that most Filipinos are once again learning to patronize our own music. Bar gigs are booming, prominent artist-friendly bars like the 70’s Bistro, Route 196, Saguijo, 12 Monkeys, 19 East, etc. are continuously supporting the local musicians to advance their music creation, and to top it off, publications like inquirer(.)net writing about the good and bad practices of musicians in this generation.
This is the best time for our local musicians to express their creativity and to take advantage of the online and on-ground platforms for promotions.
5) Any upcoming gigs you want to promote?
Ana Almenario: As of now, I do regular gig sets at Dencio’s CCP Complex Manila and Tomas Morato Quezon City 2 to 3 times a month. You can also catch me together with my project band LoL (Listen or Leave) at Marina Mo. Ignacia, Fat Johnny’s bar & grill at Timog-QC, Bamboo Grande in QC and Bamboo Marikina.
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