BLASTER on looking out into the cosmos for his debut album 'My Kosmic Island Disk'

BLASTER on looking out into the cosmos for his debut album 'My Kosmic Island Disk'

When life on earth gets a little too hard, you head up to the cosmos, which is exactly what BLASTER did. 

For his first-ever album, titled My Kosmic Island Disk, as a soloist, the Filipino singer-songwriter ventured out into space to bring back a collection of songs to help us through our difficult days here on earth. Influenced by an array of sounds like hard rocky, psychedelic music, and electronic music, BLASTER puts together an album that's quite literally out of this world. 

Ahead of his album release, Bandwagon caught up with BLASTER to talk about the inspirations behind his debut album My Kosmic Island Disc, the return of live music, and how he assembled his backing band, the Celestial Klowns


How has life been treating you lately?

Life has been really nice lately! I've been preparing for the album release for a few months now. That's what I've been focused on, the album promotions and the return of live shows also. 

My Kosmic Island Disk is dropping soon. What was the vision behind the album?

It's a compilation of songs that I've written that were inspired by different eras of my childhood or just my life in general. There are different influences, ranging from electronic music, psychedelic music, and hard rock.

The reason why it's named My Kosmic Island Disk is that it was inspired by the radio segment, Desert Island where they interview artists and ask them what songs they would bring if they get stuck on a deserted island. So I just changed the desert to Kosmic and these are the songs I would bring to the island. 

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This is your first album as a soloist, how has it been like working on a major project outside of a band for the first time?

It's both fun and scary. I was used to working with different people, I usually ask for other people's opinions before I come to a decision, but now I usually decide what's best for the song, what's best for the music. It's fun because I'm becoming more mature as a musician and making independent decisions, but also scary. 

What are some new things you've learned about being an artist and musician since you started working as a soloist?

The most important thing about making music as an artist is pleasing yourself. I realised that I have to be a fan of my own work before I release it to the world because that's the main reason I'm making music. I do music to express myself so I need to enjoy the work before other people hear it first so that they know that it's all genuine.

A lot of your work takes on a lot of cosmic and celestial themes, what inspires this?

I think the pandemic indirectly inspired me. All of the isolation, the lockdowns—and this was in the beginning of COVID, in 2020 so I was just always at home in my room. I had nothing else to do and no one could go out or even just do anything outside, so I just imagined the cosmos. It was like a coping mechanism to think about wandering in space and exploring. I think that's the indirect inspiration.

What are some of the challenges and highlights that you faced while putting together My Kosmic Island Disk?

The hardest part was the lockdowns, the pandemic. There were a lot of delays for this album—it was supposed be released earlier this year but because of the lockdowns, we had to wait.

The recording was hard too, I just recorded everything as a solo artist at home. Before, when I decided to work on my album, I had no place to record because of the lockdown so I decided to just invest in studio equipment. No one could go outside so I studied recording, music production, and all of that. That was hard but also a highlight because I learned a lot about recording music because of the limitations of the pandemic. In a way it helped me grow more as an artist because I have knowledge about recording music and producing music, not just guitar playing and songwriting. 

What would you say is your greatest strength as an artist?

I think my scattered brain is my strength and my weakness. I actually have ADHD so I have lots and lots of ideas constantly. Every day there's this constant flow of ideas inside my head but I also struggle to turn it into a cohesive thing or tangible idea. But that's one of my strengths, I always have ideas—not just in music, but also videos and fashion.

The one thing that helped me with my scattered brain is the notes app on my phone and I also carry a notebook. I usually have the craziest ideas when I'm in the most uncomfortable places ever, like when I'm crossing the road I get a melody so I record it, or on the train, or the shower. I even randomly wake up at midnight and get a melody, so even when I'm super sleepy I still record it. So, yeah my scattered brain is my strength.

Recently, you've been performing at several shows and gigs around the Metro, mainly accompanied by your band, the Celestial Klowns. For anyone who has yet to know, who are they and how did you come with the lineup?

When I started recording the album, I was already working with some members of The Celestial Klowns but it wasn't official yet that they were my band. The first one I approached was Dan Tañedo, my guitarist now. He's been a recording engineer for the last 10 years, he records a lot of celebrities like songs for Daniel Padilla or Xian Lim. I met him at a random dinner during the pandemic and we shared a lot in common, like our music taste and we also played table tennis. I just approached him if he could engineer my album and then I would play guitar for him, so it was like a deal and he was game. He even helped me set up my home studio. 

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Then next was Max Cinco, my drummer. He was actually a drummer for one of my favourite bands in the Philippines, Halina and before the pandemic, I used to watch a lot of their shows. I'm a really big fan of their music and when I attended their shows, I would see Max in the back and I would think—this was when I was vaguely thinking starting my solo project—that I will get this guy as my drummer. I actually approached [Halina's vocalist] Divino Dayacap first and courted him if I could get Max as my drummer, luckily he said yes. It's been really fun working with Max, I discovered he's also a really good piano player and arranger, and he actually helped me co-produce a lot of the sonic landscape of this album. 

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Then, we have my brother Dave Silonga. We have lots of experiences playing together [...] so he's my number one pick for the bass player. I just randomly asked him if they want to be part of my band and of course, he said yes but I still had to ask first. The last one is Crystal, my girlfriend. She contributed some of the backing vocals for this album and contributed to the arrangement, and also does percussion. 

I was inspired by some of the solo artists with an official backing band like Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and Paul McCartney and Wings. I thought of the name Celestial Klowns the day we put the backing band together, it was actually very impulsive and spontaneous. We actually have a list of names but Cosmic Klowns was the one we chose. 

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After the release of your album, what's next for BLASTER?

Live shows, that's the next step for us. We actually have a practice today to arrange some of the songs to be more live-friendly and also just practice in general to prepare for live shows. Live shows are really coming back and I think the comeback is really stronger this time because people really had a really long time away from live music. So right now, it's the rebirth of the live scene and so we're excited to do that. 

My Kosmic Island Disc is slated for release on 8 October via Island Records Philippines.