Beyond the local music we hear on the radio lies a treasure lurking in cyberspace that has yet to be fully explored—the up-and-coming beatmakers in the Philippines. With sounds that range from ambient electronica to futuristic lo-fi, these electronic musicians offer an avant-garde exploration of sounds which goes beyond the ubiquitous music blaring from the local radio stations.
Independent beatmakers have rolled out from the confines of their bedrooms and into the global trajectory of the internet where they are re-creating a landscape for music and expanding the sounds of the local music scene.
The rise of the Do-It-Yourself beatmaker
From his bedroom, Rome Gomez, a music production student from DLS-College of St. Benilde who goes by the moniker No Rome, is at work on his next beat. Sitting on his bed with a guitar in his arms, he experiments with different strumming patterns before coming up with a melody.
Making the instrumentals is only the first stage in his production process. Once he settles on a melody, Rome continues his work on his Macbook and mix board where he adds ethereal vocals and unusual sounding synths to come up with an infectious and dreamy beat.
His crafted sound, which incorporates a blend of shoegaze R&B and electropop with hints of alternative emo in his lyrics, is that of practice and years spent in his room experimenting with different instruments, and tinkering with homemade sequencers and synthesizers.
No Rome belongs to an emerging collective of local DIY beatmakers who compose, record, and mix their own music using inexpensive equipment right from their homes. They use streaming sites such as SoundCloud and Bandcamp as platforms which enable them to release their tracks and share their music with a global audience.
In a golden age of tools and technology, it’s more accessible than ever for anyone to go after their creative pursuits. This is evident in the realm of music production where a number of beatmakers are pushing the edges of the industry from within their own confines.
“I believe that the bedroom producer movement has helped people get out more,” says Rome. He explains that its accessibility fosters talent and motivates musically-inclined people, or anyone interested in producing music into experimenting and creating their own music.
“It has helped people become more open to making music since it does not have limits.”
When asked what motivates him to continue making beats, Allan Malabanan readily says, “There is nothing else in the world I would rather do.”
At a young age, he had already been exposed to all kinds of music, from the likes of Blackstreet to Pearl Jam. Thanks to his diverse experiences as a child, he was able to cultivate his passion and taste in music. Allan fondly recalls the first time he held a guitar; his friend, who lent it to him, had tried to teach him how to play the famous ballad, More Than Words.
“I was too lazy to change chords so I found a way to play the song on only one chord with minimal variations and finger changes. That was when I figured I could already bend the rules,” he says.
Allan Malabanan, who goes by the pseudonym Lustbass, is known for the organic vibes he gives off through his beats. With the mind of jazz and R&B, the body of hip-hop and electronica, and the spirit of soul, his beats are able to evoke the senses and lure one into an ethereal haze.
In a time when genres merge to create innovative noise, bedroom pop shows that it is no longer about the shoe fitting and laces tying everything together; instead, the bedroom beatmaking movement makes use of heartstrings to soothe our eardrums with music we can all relate to in our own ways. Their experimental nature pushes them to break the boundaries of genre and produce a sound that is uniquely theirs.
This matter is all about musical freedom and expression, for it is undeniable that bedroom beatmakers operate on raw talent. With such an abundance of artists and bands available for streaming right at the tip of our fingertips, much of the genre-busting in the music industry can be attributed to the online culture we delve into daily.
Sometimes all it takes is a pair of inexperienced ears to produce an infectious beat. “My only goal is to produce the music that plays in my head,” Allan says. “The pleasure of being able to translate those thoughts from the mind into the physical world that can be heard through the ears is unparalleled and almost impossible to explain. It’s otherworldly bliss.”
Expanding sounds of the local music scene
“It’s obvious how a lot of new sounds aren’t being adapted in the Philippines,” says Lean Ordinario, a music production student from DLS-College of St. Benilde. “I believe that’s the importance of bedroom beatmakers. Despite not getting the proper recognition, bedroom beatmakers are still determined to provide and innovate a new sound for those who want to listen.”
It’s easy to overlook our local music scene in favor of well-known artists. While some people may still find the sound of bedroom beatmakers ambiguous, there is no denying the skill and brilliance they have in creating forward-thinking beats, as well as their contribution to the local music scene.
“There is now a wider variety of local music being made,” Allan claims. “The electronic scene is growing and at the same time, people who also have bands are using and sharing new techniques, so we are now witnessing the evolution and merging of electronic and organic music at a faster rate.”