Some time in August 2015, a group of Lasallian students with a shared love for music and hunger to pursue their craft kickstarted the Green Music Collective (GMC). Aadil, one of the five founding students of GMC, enumerates the reasons why it was built. He makes mention of the lack of gigs available on campus, and lack of appreciation for local acts. But one of the more prominent reasons why it was created was because there was a lack of a music scene in campus.
Sabrina Manansala, the executive vice president of operations at Green Music Collective agrees. She talks about professional bands with members that all come from the same school. “A lot of bands are already known in the local indie scene,” she says. “People from their school really support them, and that’s what we lack.”
What makes them different from the other music organizations in school is that GMC focuses more on the process of becoming an artist. “[There wasn’t] a place where you can hone your skills, or start from scratch,” says Sabrina.
They hold various events, such as open mic nights, jam sessions, or even workshops every few weeks or so and anyone’s free to join. They don’t necessarily require an output from their members, unlike the other music organizations.
To create a music scene on campus is to create a culture. And the members of the GMC board believe that in order for them to leave a legacy, and make the students believe that the music platform in La Salle is not dead and is continuously growing, they must create activities that will facilitate the cultivation of this said culture.
One of the activities that GMC usually has is their jam sessions. Around forty people come in the amphitheater and the whole affair is spontaneous. A few people pick up their guitars and start singing. Some of them form groups, but most of the time they find themselves singing along to a single song. It serves as a way for them to bond and for the members to get to show what they have.
It’s also a way for GMC to be discovered, as based on experience, there are those who see the jam sessions and join in end up becoming members as well. In those jam sessions, they don’t have a real teacher but they do sometimes have a facilitator and usually it’s Aadil or Hans Cateras, the vice president of the music pool, that takes charge.
The same way goes for their song writing sessions. Hans, who is also a musician for the band Mrs. Fin, notes that it was the songwriting sessions that really made a big impact on him as a musician.
He speaks for the other musicians in the organization by saying, “People who apply there usually don’t have experience performing live and you see them start playing the guitar. Through the songwriting camp, you manage to get over the stage fright.”
Hans tells the story of the development of their members through the sessions: “During our first session, we asked them to do a freestyle. Everyone was too shy; they had something but they just didn’t want to sing it.”
It is true that developing as an independent musician can be tough if you want to put yourself out there. Writing and performing are two separate processes and sometimes picking up the mic and having confidence in your work is a hurdle in and of itself. A group of people with little to no experience in performing in front of a crowd would naturally shrink away from it.
Although this is the case, he continues, “Yesterday, we had the last session of the term. All those who were super quiet they ended up being the more active in the session. Some members in one of our songwriting classes managed to form a band and perform at the open mic.”
The beautiful thing to imagine about this whole process is the possibility that at some point during a songwriting or jam session, something must have clicked for them. A reluctant rapper might find his voice better rapping not about money, feuds, and hardships, but of his childhood in the province or in the big city. An acoustic guitarist might start to figure out that she doesn’t want to sing to her old lover anymore, but sing about her experience about being a woman. What GMC does for them—creating that space and building a community—makes a difference in their growth as artists.
They also have regular open mic nights where they crowdsource people who want to perform. Performers are not exclusive to just the members but also to any Lasallian who wants to have an avenue to get to share their music. Last February, they had their first ever Ampalaya sessions in Cafe Laya in the EGI Taft Tower where they invited musicians of different genres to perform. One of the band members of the Lasallian-bred band Ben and Ben was even there to perform their songs.
Another major activity is the gigs they hold outside school with an exclusive Lasallian line-up. Both open mic nights and gigs held outside school premises require the organization to use their funds. “Sometimes we even sell cookies,” Aadil remarks with a slight laugh. One of their major gigs was held in Mo’s bar that showcased an exclusive, curated line-up of Lasallian musicians.
Even the USG and the Arts College Government have been booking members of the GMC to perform at their respective events. More and more people are starting to hear about GMC and its members through their performances and even word of mouth. It’s only a matter of time before GMC is the talk of the town.
Room for improvement
It’s been roughly over a year since it was created, but the GMC is still seeking certification to be an organization. Just like any struggling musician, the process is a long and rough journey. Without a structure, GMC gives their members creative freedom that this is what makes the it stand out, but it is also its weakness. It is as if they are fumbling their way through the dark, feeling the steps as they go.
As the GMC expands, with more and more members coming in at every gig and activity they hold, roles and responsibilities diversify. As more opportunities arise, Aadil mentions how the executive board keeps adding new departments and divisions. A sudden epiphany even came into mind as he spoke, mumbling something about adding an Externals department soon.
“We’ve already been recognized by the USG during Univ week. It served as a huge milestone for us in such a way, it’s a big step,” Hans says with pride.
And yet if they want to ensure that the community and culture of music persists and expands, Sabrina and Hans lay down the three key things they think would keep GMC on board for the years to come. Sabrina makes mention of consistency and commitment, while Hans highlights continuity.
“I think when you’re passionate about something, and you find growth in it, you see it as something that’s worth it,” Sabrina expressed. “[It’s] something you can nurture and nourish. That’s how a lot of us see GMC. In that sense, we’re learning to walk.”
Soon, they tell us, they would love to release a compilation album of music from Lasallian musicians that want to be heard via the Green Music Collective Facebook group. From meager amphitheater jam sessions to gigs to a possible compilation album, the GMC just might hit the right note.