Ryan Cayabyab, Moy Ortiz, Noel Ferrer, Maribel Garcia talk curating and building Pinoy Playlist Music Festival

Ryan Cayabyab, Moy Ortiz, Noel Ferrer, Maribel Garcia talk curating and building Pinoy Playlist Music Festival

For the first time in the Philippines, over a hundred local artists will come together to perform in one space at the 6-day Pinoy Playlist Music Festival.

With the likes of Abra, IV Of Spades, Ben&Ben, Sandwich, Bayang BarriosRazorback, Pedicab, Bullet Dumas, and the Itchyworms, the Pinoy Playlist Festival covers the different sounds of Filipino music that make the scene so vibrant and interesting.

Bandwagon caught up with Pinoy Playlist Music Festival curators Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, Moy Ortiz, Noel Ferrer, and Maribel Garcia to talk about how the ambitious 6-day festival came to be, what it takes to mount an event this large, and their future plans to help lift the local music industry.

What is the overall objective of Pinoy Playlist?

Moy Ortiz conceptualized Pinoy Playlist Music Festival as a celebration of Filipino music in all its forms, styles, flavors, and eras. We wanted a Filipino music festival that would be inclusive, progressive, innovative, entertaining, soul-feeding, and nation-building.

We also wanted to house it in a space that is compact, convenient, compressed, and convenient, and where we can work together. We wanted to create a community of artists and cultural workers—and good that we have found a partner like the BGC Arts Center of the Bonifacio Art Foundation Inc. to realize this vision. The BGC Arts Center is not only a venue but they actively work to promote Filipino artistry and creativity.

If there is Cinemalaya, the MMFF, PPP, Cinema One Originals, ToFarm, QCinema, SinagMaynila and other film festivals; and there is Virgin LabFest and before, the National Theater Festival for plays; we should have one for music ; thus, Pinoy Playlist was born.

How did you curate the line-up? How did you balance it for the audience?

Pinoy Playlist Music Festival is not a singular themed show, other than its being a celebration of Filipino music. It is the opposite. It is multi-dimensional in terms of music planes—from serious to street music to ethnic, pop, and jazz, depending on the artists’ choice of expression, from Concert Hall type music to street level type music. We would like to show the many facets of Filipino music in the most varied styles in a 45-minute time frame, in three different venues that offer three types of atmospheres, hence an experience like no other if you flit from one space to another.

The overriding curatorial approach was to expose the diversity of Filipino musical talent. The varied artists who responded to our call for this first-ever Pinoy Music Festival lent themselves so readily to this approach. They came from all over the wells of our home-grown musical creativity and we just had to weave them together also considering other things like availability.

We cast a wide net of invites across the board the spectrum of Filipino musical artists. Trust us, we went out there and invited the artists ourselves. We called in favors. Cajoled those who had suspicions and trust issues. We did the whole 9 yards. We are very happy with how the majority of working musical artists have enthusiastically accepted our invite. We did not want to divide the nights into genres or segments. Just like the iconic Filipino dessert, the halo-halo, it is a glorious pastiche of the sounds and sights of Filipino music. We tried our best to invite all types of performers with varied music styles, genres and coming from different eras, and are very happy with the response and enthusiasm from all sectors. We wanted to feature a diverse lineup like a buffet menu that would cater to all the audiences. We also wanted to empower the artists and make them feel that this is their festival.

How can we address the issue of Pinoy mentality in ticket pricing?

As far as we understand, the big ticket foreign acts: 1. are internationally known performers who have a huge worldwide following; 2. bring with them expensive sets, lights and sounds, technical expertise, to make their show professional and entertaining concerts to match the price of their ticket; 3. travel with crew, production staff, dancers, musicians, back-up singers who contribute to make the concerts tops in production and artistic values.

We cannot match the expense that these foreign acts put in their shows. Besides, theirs is a show that is mounted locally on occasion and not like on a monthly or weekly basis. Local acts are "mura lang" (not pricey) IF the producers and artists want a "mura lang" show. It is the responsibility of local artists and producers to make their shows competitive, highly artistic, injecting them with great production values. Our audiences see the amount of talent and expense in a show when they see one and are willing to shell out money to support shows that have meaning to them. An example would be Ang Huling El Bimbo which showed for nights, full house, at 3,000 PHP per ticket. Lea Salonga’s 40th anniversary concert is sold out as was Sharon Cuneta’s concert.

Music that is bred locally is intrinsically part of our life, and therefore, the familiar. Often, we do not value the familiar as our “lifeline” until they start to vanish. But it is local music that makes up the memories that deeply animate who we are as individuals and as a collective. We do not think festivals will solve the skewed pricing of local concerts. But we think and hope that it will start making us Pinoys realize that what is familiar is what makes up our lifeline, our “love line” and value it by showing that they are willing to bet on it as much as they do the foreign music they also like.

We have always held the conviction that quality Filipino work is always world-class and outstanding. You see it in the arts, in science, in human services, etc. Individually, we are truly outstanding! Collectively, well...we still have to work on that.... hence, we are forming this Pinoy Playlist Music Festival to bring in the various music tribes and form this beautiful and colorful banig known as OPM.

Can you tell us about the challenges of mounting a festival like this?

Beyond the obvious challenges of logistics and synching of artist availability, we had to convince sponsors that this is not the usual Pinoy musical event—that it is the tapestry of Pinoy music spanning several lifetimes. That is why we are ever so grateful to Sun Life, who is our co-presenter, as well as our other sponsors like Pinto Museum, Belo Med, Uratex, Locally, Davao Aguilas Belmare Football Club, and Alveo Land for trusting that we could pull it off. There was the challenge too of making artists recognize how important and soul-filling it is for Pinoy musicians to come together and affirm our collective beauty and strength even in this age when technology can launch a thousand artists without the traditional vehicles. We had to fill up 102 slots/concerts with OPM music artists. The next big challenge was to have all 102 artists sign the contract/conforme. Imagine that!

What does it take for a band to be part of the future editions of this festival?

We chose the bands in our lineup which are familiar to us, the curators. We also researched bands who are up-and-coming and who offer something different. Next year—if we have a successful round this year—we will start early looking for talents and probably create a mechanism to flush out new, talented bands who have something different to offer or have a good track record and a substantial number of followers. Of course, we will take in anyone who performs, writes, records Filipino music. Referrals from trusted people in the industry also help. Representation is vital in making PPMF inclusive!

Do you plan to bring artists from other parts of the country in the future?

Definitely! As a matter of fact, aside from the Vispop portion (all Visayan based artists), the PhilPop Top 30 artists have Visayan and Mindanao singer-songwriters in their line up for Pinoy Playlist. We want this to be about the Filipino music artist.

Watch a recap of Pinoy Playlist 2018 Weekend 1:

Tickets to Pinoy Playlist Music Festival are available at Ticket World outlets for PHP 1,500(3-Day Pass), PHP 750 (1-Day Pass).