Ben&Ben's Toni Muñoz and Keifer Cabugao on their Munimuni collaboration, 'Sugat': "We hope you find that there is joy in surrender."

Ben&Ben's Toni Muñoz and Keifer Cabugao on their Munimuni collaboration, 'Sugat': "We hope you find that there is joy in surrender."

Turning to music could be a source of healing, and in these trying times, we're lucky to have an abundance of it.

Ben&Ben and Munimuni have come together to string and stitch their first collaborative effort through a song about healing called 'Sugat'. Translated as "wound" in Filipino, the reflective track, which will appear on Ben&Ben's forthcoming sophomore album, pulls from inner strength to find joy in freedom and forgiveness. It reminds listeners that nobody is defined by their past and that there is still hope to alleviate whatever hurt that's kept you from moving on.

Guitarist and vocalist Paolo Benjamin shared the struggles he had while working on the song: "I was honestly nervous about working on 'Sugat' despite it being a song that we already jammed to as a band. But I think that was the thing, we already had an existing arrangement for the song and I was having a hard time thinking outside the box and have a reimagined version of it."

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In an exclusive interview, Bandwagon caught up with Ben&Ben's percussionist Toni Muñoz, who co-wrote the track with Paolo, and violinist Keifer Cabugao, who arranged and produced 'Sugat', to talk about the production process and creative concepts behind the collaboration.


What was the production process like for 'Sugat'? How was it working with Munimuni and how did you ensure that the song reflected both of the bands' individual sounds?

Keifer: I had to lay down the arrangement of the song and think of more ways to bring out the soul of the message. 'Sugat' is quite a heavy song if you ask me, but the redeeming/hopeful theme outweighs it and I wanted to translate that into music with the right blend of sounds and emotions. The marriage of Ben&Ben’s and Munimuni’s “musical soul” was indeed the perfect blend for the song. 'Sugat' is a reflective song and the band immediately was able to create the vibe that truly brings it to life. So when it was time to bring Munimuni into the creative process, we already had the structure for how the song would generally be like. I’d say Munimuni truly made the song complete. We had fun thinking of new things to add to the recording. My favorite part was when we spent like 2-3 hours just finding the right lines for the solo. Haha. It was all worth it.

It was such a pleasure working with Munimuni. it was really refreshing as well. We all go way back, gig days at the bars, art events and music festivals. We’re all huge fans of them! I’m so glad we finally had the collaboration we dreamed of.

How did you come with the creative concept for the track? In what ways do you feel you translated the meaning behind 'Sugat' into its visuals?

Toni: Even before Keifer and I talked about what the visuals would look like, I think we were already on the same page on what we’d like the people to see. Just like what we did with the overall sound of the song, we wanted to balance the emotionally heavy and very confrontational lyrics with a soothing, reflective, intimate but freeing visual treatment in the video, and even on the single art. The broken bottle in the single art, though visually revealing pain and heaviness, shows dried flowers in it, representing that we can still grow and heal if we free ourselves from the wounds of our past. The colors used in it also shows that being broken doesn’t always put us in a dark place, but rather bring us eventually to the opportunity we will surely grow and learn.

In the music video, our stylist Jilla Sara, also provided us with a saturated wardrobe palette that contrasted with the slow-moving shots and the more neutral and natural-looking spaces at the Pinto Art Gallery. Rather than showing the band members play their instruments, we also wanted to show the more personal side of each one of the bands’ members by capturing them self-reflect on the message of the song. 

What message do you hope to share with 'Sugat'?

Toni: The words of this song began as a letter to myself during those times when the monsters of the past kept on haunting me. I wanted to change my mindset and believe that these monsters are here to bring me someplace else, to liberty, to forgiveness, to healing. And with Paolo’s words to complete the song, I think it hopes for its listeners to assure themselves that though it’s important to look back, we are never defined by our past.

Keifer: I’d like to imagine songs as places. 'Sugat' is definitely a place where our listeners can find the time to reflect and find that there is joy in surrender. It’s a place in their hearts where they can finally have the space to move on and discover the truth that there is peace and hope waiting for them. 


Ben&Ben's second studio album is scheduled for release on August 29, 2021 via Sony Music Philippines.


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