Still smoldering the embers left behind by the fire it ignited last year, Posporo(s) returns to the local stage this June to once again offer a dialog between artists from Spain and the Philippines through music, made possible by the Embassy of Spain and Instituto Cervantes de Manila with the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
This series of concerts, which will run up to November, connects Filipino musicians with Spanish artists whose music represent both countries´ identity, exposing each other to their musical textures, nature and a sense of their own musical landscape so that these artistic encounters bridge, if not blur, the divides of style, art form, geography and disciplines.
In keeping with its commitment to fire up artistic energies, music being catalytic and an incendiary in cultural awareness, Posporo(s) has chosen participating artists from the Philippines for their rich history of musicianship and for being grounded in their craft while their Spanish counterparts are key in their respective genres given Spain’s dynamic, diverse and evolving music culture.
The Philippines, like its diverse cultural heritage, is home to vast and intertwined musical influences from its geological and historical attributes that have shaped the Filipino’s present musical surface that is proud and has a distinct identity which will certainly kindle sparks in Spanish musicians whose rich and explorative musical dimension is world-renowned today.
The landscape of the Spanish indie music has changed overtime, from being an attitude toward the industry to a style that is almost the definition of a generation encompassing all kinds that pop and rock can offer. It thrives in different ways whose only shared feature is the strength of the new.
The traditional Spanish singer-songwriter, recognized as both interpreter and composer occasionally playing without a band, has evolved, often blending with Anglo-Saxon patrons.
This second-generation of Spanish indie music has produced artists who incorporate English into their repertoire and even shift naturally from one language to another. One of the archetypes of this phenomenon is Maika Makovski, who inaugurates Posporo(s) 2017 on the 3rd of June. Maika, a professional of incredible talent, perhaps answers to the description of a “musician” defined as an artisan. She plays piano and guitar as well as composes her songs and arrangements with her music denoting a wide knowledge of and interest in different styles such as noise, rock or blues. As a result, it reveals an elegant rock in the style of Cat Power or PJ Harvey, which is quite unique in the Spanish panorama.
Playing parallel with Maika is Myra Ruaro (a.k.a Skarlet Brown). As a solo artist, Skarlet has contributed significantly to the ska, jazz and Manila sound from 90s while she is also identified with the bands Putreska and Brownbeat All Stars. Now exploring the jazz scene, Skarlet continues to break into the big band music genre, collaborating and exploring with local acts. Set to launch a new album this year, Skarlet’s upcoming project will showcase different sides of her work in music as an individual singer and as Skarlet Swing Machine the band. Her repertoire for the June 3 Posporo(s) concert will surely cover her past and current musical styles. What is interesting in this pairing between Skarlet and Maika is their common inclination to explore various genres and styles with attempts to expand the possibilities of these genres.
The second concert of Posporo(s), set for the month of July, offers us a sample of one of the undeniable currents that run through the Spanish music scene, which could be described as “neofolk”. The revisiting of genres such as flamenco, cuplé or traditional songs and the borrowing of other traditions create a folkloric vision of a globalized world where identities are chosen. Between these two points appears the straight line of Le Parody that will tread the stage of Manila on the 15th of July. Le Parody goes from tropical rhythms, flamenco-like moments, Balkan trumpets and dab. All this results into compact songs of what the magazine Mondo Sonoro has described as “postmodern folktronics”.
Le Parody is paired off with Bayang Barrios, who has established her career in singing original folk songs and stories with indigenous roots. Bayang also collaborated with Joey Ayala´s Ang Bagong Lumad and is considered a leading artist in both folk and world music in the Philippines. She is now collaborates with the band Niligayan and together they are known as Bayang Barrios at ang Niligayan. She also occasionally performs as a member of Tres Marias alongside Lolita Carbon and Cookie Chua.
On July 15, Le Parody also performs with BP Valenzuela, singer/songwriter and electronic musician, known for her solo performances as loop artist creating soundscapes and chill-out songs. She likewise took part in the recently concluded VINCULADOS PROJECT, also organized by the Spanish Embassy in Manila.
In September, Posporo(s) continues to reflect the relevant female presence in the Spanish musical scene. The overwhelming success of several bands gives a good account of a change of role for women in the national “rock and roll” scene. It seems that the “garage” is a niche for these new bands in resurgence of this style that fills the live music bars of Spanish cities. Agoraphobia, scheduled to play on September 23, tends towards a darker rock with clear voice, combined with some punk brushstrokes.
Sharing the stage with Agoraphobia is Flying Ipis. The complementing sounds and musical sensibilities of these two groups may well be due to the fact that they are both an all-girls garage rock band representing a young generation of indie musicians who aspire to grow and contribute to their music culture. Their influence in the rock music scene hopefully guarantees the future of this genre. Flying Ipis is known for playing music attuned to youth like guitar punk rock riffs and ambient rock wall of sound. With a high energy performance on stage, Flying Ipis has been the front act of concerts of international artists held in Manila and has played at local school fairs and music festivals. More recently, the group represented the Philippines and Asia at the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festival 2016 in Austin, Texas.
On October 14, Posporo(s) brings Joe Crepúsculo to Manila. Joe Crepúsculo is synonymous with “fiesta”. He is not the only one in Spain since numerous artists have recaptured the spirit of those DJs of the Ruta del Bakalao whose disc jockeying was both a performance and a musical gig. But along came also cumbia, flamenco, rap … and a break in style where “anything goes as long as it makes me dance.”
On the other side of the stage will be Dong Abay, a poet and Pinoy rock musician, song writer, lead vocalist and founding member of the now defunct bands Yano and Pan. He now pursues a solo career as an independent artist. In 2013 he released a conceptual album called Rebulto which was inspired entirely by the Rizal Monument and written from perspective of Jose Rizal. Though Joe Crepúsculo and Dong Abay have disparate styles, it is interesting to see both artists perform live with one using his gritty poetry in music and the other relaying his art in a more subdued presence. It should be an exercise in musical chemistry.
Posporo(s) 2017 concludes with good news: the group performing in the November concert will be one of those invited to the “Girando por Salas” (GPS, Touring Music Halls), the State Circuit of Popular Music conceived by the Ministry of Culture of Spain to promote contemporary music, provide emerging artists with concert tours and venues beyond their own region of origin and foster live music. GPS is organized by the Coordinating Federation of the Circuit of Popular Music, formed by the most important professional associations in the sector: record companies, promoters, technicians, etc. (ACCES, APM, ARC, ARTE, MUSICAT, PROMUSICAE and UFI).
The venues for this series of concerts will be Historia Bar (June), Music Hall (July) and Conspiracy (September). In a similar vein, these venues have been carefully chosen to reflect the diverse music culture and collaboration thriving in these intimate spaces in an effort to sustain and nurture musicians and as well as their audiences.
* photos from Posporo(s) 2016