11 Filipino musicians with new and upcoming solo releases to look out for

11 Filipino musicians with new and upcoming solo releases to look out for

It's always a treat when our favorite bands share new music. But when one of their members drops a solo offering, it definitely comes with extra sprinkles and frosting.

Artists who make art for a living (in this instance, music) sometimes need to take a bit of a breather from their day jobs. These days getting a breather could be tricky—face masks and all. Plus, it may take more effort to squeeze out those sweet creative juices when there are more things to get paranoid over within our tiny bubbles day by day.

Luckily there are those, who despite our given circumstance, are able to fight their fears and churn out some treats in the form of new singles and even full-length albums. They all have their own recipes lifted from voice memos and years-old verses and processes that led them to noodling around with equipment you never imagined they'd experiement with. There are also artists who are able to whip up something completely fresh and flambé them to crisp perfection.

All in all, it's really about finding your mind's creative sweet spot. In the case of The Ransom Collective's Leah Halili and Lily and Muriel Gonzales, they found it in California, a remote island in Indonesia, and in the streets of Paris, respectively. Others like Billie Dela Paz of Oh, Flamingo! and Ely Buendia's touring bassist Carissa Ramos, drew confidence in isolation. And of course, there are simply those who turn to songwriting as an exercise just like Urbandub's Gabby Alipe and Typecast's Steve Badiola.

Now it's time to take a bite. Here are 11 exciting solo projects by Filipino artists you should be checking out right now:


Billz

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

It was a "screw it, let's do it" thing for me, since we've been stuck at home for almost 2 years now with no live shows and no opportunity to be with my band physically. I have so many voice memos of song ideas that I've collected throughout the pandemic. I realized they'll just be nothing but voice memos unless I do something with them.

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project?

Production wise, the songs are really just demos I made in my home office that I'm sharing with the world. I just use the same midi drums, bass, a few chords, and midi presets. My goal for this project is to keep churning out songs with the least effort possible. It's more of an avenue for me to explore my feelings through songwriting.

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

Oh, Flamingo! leans more on playful instrumentation and song arrangements, while my solo project focused more on simple but memorable melodies. Yung pwedeng kantahin sa inuman! Hahaha! Also, songwriting is different when done with a group, since everyone has different ideas. So my "bahala na" approach for this project doesn't really fit in a group setting.

This is more of a songwriting exercise for me. I want to capture the most authentic and unfiltered ideas that I have. When I have a song idea, I just go with it. No overthinking. So the first idea is what's on the record. The last song I posted called "Limot" was actually a song I wrote live on my Twitch stream. I gave myself a 15-minute time limit to write the whole song. I completed the arrangement last Sunday, recorded instruments and vocals, mixed it, made a lyric video on my phone, and released it on the same day.

It's actually very refreshing not needing to think about production quality and marketing plans! Lol.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

I still have 2 more songs lined up for my EP. Once they're done, I'll upload them to Spotify and other streaming platforms. I do hope I get a chance to perform these songs live someday!


Carissa

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

I’ve been writing songs for years now and it’s a waste of time and effort if ako lang ang makakarinig sa mga kanta ko. Gladly my manager, Koi Busalla, guided me on pursuing my solo career. He’s been helping me build my new journey as a solo artist along the way. 

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project?

My songs exist of different characters. Marami kasi akong influences so iba-iba ang naiisip ko. Ginagawa ko lang kung ano ang trip ko gawin. No specific genre. The main goal it to create quality music na makakarelate ang mga tao especially the ones who’ve been supporting me since day one. 

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

I think mas nadadalian lang talaga ako gumawa ng kanta kapag mag isa lang ako. Also, alam ko na mag-eenjoy ako dahil marami akong matututunan all through the whole process. 

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

We’ve prepared few tracks for everyone this year. Hopefully we can release a new track soon. 

Gawa lang ako ng gawa mg kanta on a daily basis. Would also love to work with more artists in the music industry. I consider myself a newbie so I think they can really help me in any way as a songwriter. Would love to hear constructive critiques from these individuals.


Gabba

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

The idea of having total creative control of something and the challenge that goes with it. It is also very freeing in a sense that the elements are not limited  to the number of band members, so in a way, it is sort of like a blank canvas in which you have the freedom to put anything you want. 

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project?

I guess it’s between post rock and math rock with additional elements outside of the guitars, bass, and drums. I’m constantly trying to experiment with different elements beyond those three.

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

I think it’s best as a solo project because the idea for this project is to make music without borders or to not be boxed by different factors. So with that in mind, I make music not based on the number of members and if it will be feasible to be performed live with the said number of members. The music comes first. I’ll have to deal with how to perform it live later hahaha.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

More music! I’m pushing for a full length album this year!


Gabby Alipe

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

For the new set of songs I’ve released so far, it all happened organically. I wasn’t outwardly thinking of doing a “solo project” so to speak. I was just happy writing songs during the first lockdown as a means to have something to do. An exercise of sorts.

It just so happened that the guys from Tower of Doom, Carlo and Eric Perlas, offered and gave me an opportunity to record the songs properly in their studio and release them as singles under their flag. I’m grateful to them for that. 

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project?

The sound is simple. I wrote the songs with an acoustic guitar, simple chords and melodies. The themes revolved around what I felt dealing with our new reality brought about by the pandemic. I also imagined, that the songs would be stories, somewhere down the line, when my son is older, when he listens back to these songs, he can understand where my head was at in dealing with certain issues or how I’ve evolved as a songwriter, as a person, through the different stages of my career. 

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

The simplicity of it all. 

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

Hopefully record and release more singles. Keeping things simple and let things happen organic. Taking things a day at a time.


Leah Halili

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

I’ve always wanted to write and have my own music produced aside from making music with my band. When the pandemic started, we decided to take an unannounced hiatus and I decided to move to the States to go back to teaching. Music became an outlet for me here then I began my solo project journey!

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project?

My current sound is a mix of soft and acoustic melodies with delicate arrangements and lush vocals. I explore themes on life and love, heartbreak, and finding home.

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

It’s very personal to me. Something only I can express with my own sound. I wanted to be able to make my own sound and match it with my own music and lyrics. Working on my music by myself has made me explore and be brave about being vulnerable and personal.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

I plan on releasing more singles. Hopefully an EP and more content like a music video. I’ve also been thinking of starting a vlog to share my music and for people to get to know me more! I hope to do more shows online and around California.


Lili

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

I decided to pursue my solo project when I felt like it was the most natural thing to do next. I had just concluded my work in consulting and I had an abundance of songs I wanted to finish.

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project?

Although I am a pretty chill and easy going person, I was always quite busy. Ever since I was a teenager, I was focused on softball, academics, the band, and/or work. But last year was different. I went through a drastic change in lifestyle and environment: I got stuck on a remote island in Indonesia during lockdown. While it was unplanned and unexpected, it was a blessing in disguise. I finally found time for myself and found so much joy in living a simple life. I was sunkissed, social, and happy. It wasn't like this in the beginning, as I encountered a few obstacles along the way. But in the end, I came out stronger, wiser, and more independent.

My upcoming album Sunchild is a coming-of-age self-discovery story reflecting the experiences and relationships I’ve developed on the island. My lyrics are candid, optimistic, and contain messages of empowerment and resilience, while my music is inevitably influenced by the slow pace of the island juxtaposed against the sound of waves crashing and the calling to surf. 

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

I always wanted to write my own music. With the band, we have a specific sound that I would have to be conscious to create, and all my energy used to go to writing songs with them while balancing school or work. But once I finally had the time for myself, my music came flowing naturally to me, and it was very personal. Writing music for a group has to be deliberate, and my intention for my solo material was to really express myself as an individual.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

I plan to release two more singles and then my full album next month. After that, I'd like to explore jazz and bossa nova, probably by learning existing songs first, and then writing originals.


Muri

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

I’ve been wanting to put out music of my own for some time now. And the events of the past one, two years really pushed me to do it. I was in a new country, a new city, immersed in a different culture, and facing a lot of challenges.

I was also quite isolated in lockdown, and that exacerbated what I was going through even more. I felt totally out of my comfort zone and away from everything familiar. It pushed me to hone in on myself, and really listen to what was going on inside. I put my thoughts, my feelings, into writing. All these just unfolded into what I’m doing today. 

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project.

Hard to say, I don’t try to create a sound based on a genre I want to achieve. I write what feels right, and the music flows from what I feel as I write the song.

It’s also quite experimental and exploratory, so you’ll hear that my song and the upcoming ones may sound quite different from each other. But in a sense, they represent all the different experiences I’ve had, and aptly capture such extreme feelings.

Concept-wise you’ll see that there is an underlying theme of introspection and self-understanding, with elements of headspace and states of being. 

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

My music was an outcome of such a personal journey, and putting it into writing was in a sense my own therapy. I felt that I walked through fire, and the journey really hardened me but also forced me to emerge stronger. Writing felt like laying out the story for myself both as my own personal repose and as something to partake with anyone going through something similar. It would have been difficult to try to translate that in a group setting.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

I’ll be dropping a lyric video for 'Thunder' on August 17 which I’m really excited for people to watch because the words were so meaningful and powerful for me as I wrote it, and I hope that it's something that would resonate with others as well. I’ll also be releasing my very first music video soon! It’s something I’m very excited about as it’s my first solo music video and I had co-directed it. Preparing for it as a solo artist really stretched me in so many ways and I was lucky to have such a great team to guide and support me throughout the whole process. I’ll be putting out a few other tracks this year and listeners can follow me on my social media accounts and on Spotify and Deezer to hear all about it.


Soft Limit

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

I feel like solo projects aren't necessarily solitary ventures because I think they actually require a lot more collaboration. This open or fluid structure is what drew me to starting a project with only one actual member (and an infinite number of possible virtual members).

It may seem counterintuitive, but I started working on my own in order to work with more people, to welcome a rotating cast of collaborators. I can't play every instrument, and I don't have a lot of technical skill or theoretical knowledge when it comes to production or even arrangement, so I have to defer some of those tasks to other hands that are more equipped to deal with things I know I don't exactly excel at and converse with other minds who would think of things that would not normally occur to me. It's a dynamic process, which requires you to think on your feet for the most part because everything is continuously changing, constantly being negotiated. I find that very exciting.

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project?

This project deals with a lot of contrasting textures and attempts to integrate a variety of styles. As far as sound goes, I think I'd describe it as multivalent or fluctuating. I was trying to come up with some clever genre tag, but I'm drawing blanks.

With regards to themes, I'd say I try to work through complex thoughts and feelings related to anxieties about what's going on with the world in political and/or ecological terms as well as with what's been going on with me personally. This might seem like a noncommittal, ambiguous answer, but it is what it is. I think what the music sounds like echoes the general indeterminacy of ideas I try to explore and emotions I attempt to exorcise through music.

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

I guess conventional configurations of bands tend to fall back on guitar-driven music (which isn't a bad thing at all), and I wanted to explore different methods of composing or arranging songs. All my songs used to begin their lives as lines accompanied by strums on an acoustic guitar, but this time around I started writing around programmed drum patterns or piano notes filtered through effects loops. I thought it was time to break out of what I was doing for a handful of years.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

For the rest of the year, I'll be working on many different things and trying to keep myself afloat. As far as music goes, I'll be keeping my head down for a bit and trying to figure things out slowly. Everytime I finish a project, I totally forget how to begin again. Getting to a similar place might take a while.


Steve Badiola

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

I've been writing my solo music even before Typecast was formed. This album is a culmination of songs I've been working on.

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project?

My solo explores two sides of the same coin. Gemini is an air sign and not limited by space or restrictions. It's a self-discovery journey about how far I can push the boundaries in terms of the genres and sound I usually do.

Lyrically, Typecast focuses on asking questions. My solo album will be about getting the answers I'm looking for, and if I don't, being completely okay with the mystery of the unknown.

In a few words, the sound is a mixture of electronic and acoustic instruments, earthy and airy tunes with more straightforward and confident lyrics.

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

It's a conscious decision to write music for my solo projects and make it apparent that it's not a "Typecast" song.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

I'm finishing up the album and will release it this year, Typecast is on its recording stage, Also, I'm still accepting sign ups for my Basic Music Production Workshop and accepting producing and mixing jobs.


timothy Run

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

I think three years ago, there was a time where I was really tired with music in a sense, I didn’t want to do anything with it. And to fight that, I decided—to make more music. I challenged myself to create something everyday. And with all the crappy ideas and cringey demos, I was able to write my first song, which was 'I’m Just a Man'. And that’s how everything started.

Honestly, it was more of a challenge to myself. I wanted to see what I can create just by trusting my own gut and instinct.

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project?

I guess I describe my sound as a combination of everything I like. And I think most of the music I like is from the '80s and '70s. So I guess, it has a sense of nostalgia but I like putting my own modern twist on them. Lyrically, I think the themes I like to talk about more is being vulnerable with what I feel. It’s mostly me looking at a situation introspectively.

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

Besides the sound that I’m going for, I feel like it’s also more of the stuff I write about. It’s something that’s really personal to me and I guess cornier and I just feel that it wouldn’t really fit the band. I guess my cooler songs would be for the band and I’d keep the cheesy ones for myself. Hahaha!

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

Oh man, I’m not really sure. I think with this timothy Run project it works best when it’s spontaneous. So I guess, I’ll go where the wind takes me. Haha!

But for sure, I’ve been making music a lot especially for other artists and that’s what keeping me excited lately. I can’t wait for people to hear the music we’ve been making and I hope they’re excited as well.


TONEEJAY

What made you decide to pursue your solo project?

Last year when my band was on hiatus, I had a lot of time to do some soul searching and think about where my life is headed. I decided then that it’s time for me to do something new creatively. I just don’t wanna look back on my life when I’m older and have this feeling of regret for not trying it out. And like I also said when I left, there are some personal things now that I have to focus on. I’m very grateful for the 8 years I spent with the band, but this is what works for me now.

How would you describe your sound and the themes you explore with your solo project?

When I upload my music for distribution, I have a hard time figuring out which box to tick when I’m filling out the “genre” field. That kinda sounds pretentious, but it’s true (haha). I think the closest term would be alternative hip-hop. Even then, I think it’s not a perfect fit. What I know is I’m fusing my alternative, indie, folk roots with some pop, electronic, and hip-hop elements. I’ve been heavily influenced by Kids See Ghosts, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, and other similar artists. But then I also draw a lot of inspiration from Phoebe Bridgers, Sufjan Stevens, and AURORA. My sound now is really more beat and synth driven. It’s definitely darker, also thematically which I think is a natural consequence of being alone most of the time. 

What is it about your solo material that makes you feel it works best as a solo project rather than releasing it with your band?

The sound is different, that’s one. And also, the themes are really personal. When you’re experimenting and figuring things out, I think you’d need all the room you can get.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? What else should people look out for from you?

I’ve released two singles, 'Odyssey' and 'Heart-Eyes'. My upcoming record is coming out later this year via MARILAG Records. And hopefully when the situation gets better in 2022, we’ll all be back to gigging. I’m just really looking forward to sharing more stuff!


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