Hear it is

Diego Mapa

DMaps

You can make it without the help of a major label. And if you’re that serious, you can make it a business. You can make money out of playing music.

We Talked About

Guns ‘N Roses
Nu Metal and other unstable categories
Feeling safe in your own little niche
NU 107’s In the Raw
A sustainable community built on mutual admiration


I’m Diego Mapa and I’m a musician, recording artist, and I’ve been in the Manila gig scene since 1997. What do I do now – I’m in the bands Pedicab and Tarsius, and I’m also working as a web manager at ArtisteConnect.com, the first crowdfunding site in the Philippines.

I can trace my current taste in music to the first time I heard The Beatles, which I heard from my parents. My mom was a writer for Malaya, Manila Times, and The Daily Globe, so nakakakuha siya ng free stuff, and the few tapes na nakuha niya nung kid ako—Randy Santiago – Bababaero, Andrew E – Humanap ka ng Panget, Gary Valenciano – ‘Di Bale na Lang—so yun yung mga una kong (hindi ko binili with my own money) pinapakinggan kasi nakukuha niya. Tsaka yun yung popular at the time. Eventually, nakakuha siya ng The Dawn, na yun yung first na parang, “Wow, band ‘to. Local ‘to, sounds British—HAHAHAHA!”

And then from The Dawn, later on narinig ko na yung Eraserheads and then nag-explore na ako ng Guns ‘N Roses and glam rock through my brother’s music. After glam rock, na-discover ko na yung Nirvana, at ako na talaga yung nakikinig. Parang, “Okay ‘tong ‘Sweet Child of Mine’” o “Sobrang saya nitong Bon Jovi na ‘to, pero mas maganda pa rin ‘tong Metallica,” and then eventually narinig ko na yung Nevermind ng Nirvana, at ito na talaga yung, “Wow!” Actually, first cassette ko was Metallica’s black album, then Pearl Jam’s Ten, tapos katabi niya yung Nevermind. Ayun, sunud-sunod na – Temple of the Dog, Sonic Youth— may nakilala pa akong officemate ng mom ko na siya yung nagre-review ng music nila tapos ayaw niya mag-review ng Pop stuff. So sa kanya ko nalaman yung mga Sonic Youth, Helmet, stuff like that…until naging artista yung utol ko—hahaha! Tapos nagka-CD player na kami, so nakuha ko na din yung bagong album ng Pearl Jam, yung Vitalogy. Discman pa yun, tapos parang, “Wow! Ang mahal nito!” Mahal nga yun. That was 400 bucks…tapos nag-explore na ako with buying my own stuff, at naging electronic na. You had Beck, you had downloads, you had Napster—Napster eh, no?!—Napster tapos naka-record sa cassette, dinu-dub mo kasi wala kang burner!

Yun yung mga first ko na na-associate with music, I mean before, I listened to my mom and dad’s music. My friends would give me what they listened to, what they were playing; also when you give mixtapes to your *girlfriends*, they give you their own music—siyempre, type mo sila, so nai-involve ka din doon sa music nila (laughs). Kunwari, dati ako maingay lang talaga yung pinapakinggan ko, pero yung dini-date ko indie-pop yung gusto, so ako parang cool nap ala indie ayoko na sa sobrang maingay, baduy na yun–hahaha! Or may dini-date ka na sobrang dance fan, so nagiging dance ka na rin. Or your cousins who come from the States, tapos Balikbayan na hip-hop sila, so gusto mo na din maging hip-hop at magpapatulong ka talaga na “LA Style!” And of course, MTV, blogs, magazines, yun yung mga, “Uy, cool to ah! Cool sila ah!” Ayun. (Tama ba?)

My dad used to play guitar, so yun yung unang nakikita kong nagpapatugtog ng music. Sabi niya may band siya dati, so we’d sing anytime, together with my brother—ayun yung mga ‘di ko napapansin, parang “Ah, kanta lang kayo diyan” tapos ako, nanonood lang ng TV. Tapos one day, mga eleven years old ako nun, pinick-up ko yung guitar niya. Tapos okay, “D pala ‘to…G…A…” Guns ‘N Roses yung una kong natutunan—“I Used to Love Her”—tapos daga lang yung kaya ko (D-A-G-A), so from there nagpaturo na ako, parang, “Dad, ano yung B-minor?” Hanggang alam ko na halos lahat ng gusto ko matutunan.

Sa high school, parang may mga friends ako who wanted to form a band kasi gusting-gusto nila yung mga Greenday and stuff like that, tapos sabay din kami making ng music, so nagbuo kami ng band at naging Monsterbot na kami. Nanalo kami ng band contest nung high school—pangalan pa naming nun, “Female Body Explosion” (from Mudhoney)—tapos nung naka-graduate na kami, ayun na yung, “O sa’n niyo ‘to gusting dalhin?” Ayun na, we could go out, we could play gigs; kasi nung high school, Antipolo kami based tapos yung first gig namin–as Female Body Explosion–was at Yosh Café sa Pasay. So hirap na hirap na kami, tsaka pagbalik naman papagalitan pa kami ng parents namin. So nung college kami, ayun na, pwede na kami tumugtog.

Nung nag Mayric’s na kami, feeling namin eto na yung stepping stone—HAHAHA!—sikat na kami! Hinihintay namin na maging kilala yung Monsterbot—at doon din namin nakilala yung Sandwich, sila Mikey (Amistoso)—si Owel (Alvero) doon namin nakilala din—Chicosci, Diego Castillo—yun na. Niyaya na kami kahit saan sila pumunta. Nakilala ko si Raimund—actually pasalamat talaga ako na sinama kami, kasi eventually nung nag-disband ang Monsterbot, kasama ko na sila.

Actually, masaya ako na even Monsterbot was already into synths and guitars. Parang nakikita ko na okay na yung progression ko na nagiging mas indie-electronic head na ako. Like my friends na kasabay ng Monsterbot – mga Typecast, mga mas rock-driven bands—kasama na nila yung mga Kamikazee (friends din namin yun eh). Nandun sila sa guitar-driven, rock types at ayun na yung scene nila. Ako naman, na-separate na ako. Napunta na ako doon sa indie at electronic—but still mainstream.

In my audience, meron talagang nagsasabi na, “Mas maganda ang Monsterbot kaysa Pedicab,” ganun, tapos friends ko talaga sila ever since. At okay lang, kasi meron din naman na mas gusto nila ang Pedicab, o kunwari si Erwin—Erwin Romulo (namedrop, sorry!)—sabi niya na, “Sa lahat ng ginawa niyo, Eggboy ang favourite ko.”

Buti hindi na sila yung parang dati na gusto nila Nu Metal lang. Sa mga tinutugtugan namin, lagi kaming may fear na babatuhin kami kasi di naming ma-accomplish yung gusto nilang mangyari. At least ngayon nagva-vary na may indie guys na, may Number Line crowd na we’re all so safe together. Tinutugtugan pa rin ng Pedicab yung mga Myxmo, minsan nasasama pa rin kami sa mga Metalhead na bands—well, wala pa ring fear. Yung mga Metalheads, kilala na namin yung mga yun eh, ewan ko na lang sa mga fans nila—meron pa rin atang mga, “Yun? Bading yung mga yun eh!” Even with Tarsius, parang “What’s thaaat?”

You don’t see anymore of the indie kids at Pulp Summer Slam, the same way that you don’t see the Summer Slam dudes at Cubao X. So mas may choices, hindi na yung, you’d have to see one show to see all of them.

First demo na pinasa naming sa NU was recorded on a telephone machine, so parang ano: *doot-doot-doooot* (makes guitar noises) HAHAHAHAHA! Pero nakakatawa, kasi yung cassette recording machine, for some reason ang ganda ng compression niya, na it works like a Zoom—yung mga Zoom ngayon na advanced na. Walang mike nga eh, na parang LALALALALALANANANANADOOT (note: this is Diego’s impression of what a Monsterbot demo recorded on a telephone machine sounded like). Tapos pinasa naming kay Francis Brew (Francis Reyes) yung demo na eight songs, at ‘di namin alam kung ipapatugtog niya. Cassette pa yung mga pini-play niya nun—at pumasa, pumasa siya. So parang, sabi niya on air, “Guys, you should do this. You should do what Monsterbot did.” At nakikinig ako, so narinig ko yun, tapos /makes sobbing noises. Pagtapos nun, nag-rent na kami ng proper na studio, tapos parang, “O, record na talaga tayo. Baduy pala ng ginagawa natin dati eh (laughs)!”

This was done on a 4-track, kaya nung nandun kami, hindi namin pwedeng lakasan. Kailangan mahina lang daw yung tugtugan. Nung nakuha namin yung demo, parang hindi kami natutuwa. It was Shinji (Tanaka, Sound Creation) who added 8-tracks na digital, at first time namin noon na makapasok ng studio na, “Wooowww…okay to ah, aircon! Soundproof and stuff…” And we paid for it with our own money!

So we had to do those things. Hindi siya parang ngayon na kahit sinong may laptop, pirated CDs, software or freeware—so pwede kang magrecord kahit kalian. Kung meron kang Garage Band, pwede nang magrecord ng drums, kahit naka-mic lang. Depende din yun sa choice mo ng music – kung indie/lo-fi ka, pwede na yun, ‘di ba? Slow Hello ka na. Pero siyempre, kung gusto mo pa rin ng big drum sound, you will still have to go into a studio.

Pero accessible pa rin yun. You can still have the option to just go into a studio to record drums, and do everything else using what you have in your house; so there’s really no reason not to have your own demo. And even then, yung final product mo sa bahay mo, you can still use that to get signed. Even si Gangnam guy, he had a home demo before going into the studio and then exploding in a—whatever!— way.

In terms of marketing and distribution, before nung wala pang internet, puro fliers and fanzines – punk rock style. (Ginawa din naming yun, nung Millennia/Mayric’s days. Hindi kami gumawa ng zine, pero kasama kami sa zine – mga Jawbreaker, yung kanila Paolo Cruz. You’ll hardly see any bands paying for ads in the newspaper though, now that everything’s on the internet.) Kung yun yung gusto mong gawin, pwede kang maging punk rock na lang forever. But if you’re trying to go mainstream—siyempre, if you’re trying to get signed (swerte ka na lang if you get signed, like The Eraserheads)—nandyan yung marketing arm ng mga major labels. Dadalhin ka nila sa probinsya at sa mga malls. Pero ngayon, bahala ka na talaga, kasi yung ibang nasa internet, kaya nang talunin yung mga major labels. Kunwari, kung Odd Future ka, ayun kaya nila na mag-isa. Si Gangnam (laughs) yung biggest example talaga – na-destroy niya talaga yung system na yun eh. First time na nakita ko yun sa YouTube…well…hindi ako fan ng song, pero nakakanta ko siya! Alam ko yung buong kanta! HAHAHAHA!

So if you know how to do it, you can make it without the help of a major label. And if you’re that serious, you can make it a business. You can make money out of playing music.

Sobrang fan ako ni Ely Buendia. May acquaintance na kami and we’ve worked together a few times, pero sobrang nasta-starstruck pa rin ako (giggles)! Magaling talaga siya eh, hanggang ngayon, kung magdala siya, nagagawa pa rin niya yung gusto niya. Wala ka masyadong nakikitang mga mainstream artist na umabot sa kung saan siya umabot.

Si Raimund – I take it for granted na bandmate ko siya, pero sobrang idol ko din yon. Buong Eraserheads, nung na-meet ko sila, kelangan ko i-hold back yung excitement ko. Parang cool lang…wala akong pakialam sa inyo…pero naka-work ko na rin si Buddy, so happy ako. Pati si Marcus, ni-remix ko siya. Si Ely din, and we also played live together.

Si Rico Blanco, sobrang galing na writer talaga. New Wave at Electronic head din yun: he actually got into synths before Raimund, so cool siya in that way.

Ang dami ko din natutunan from working with Mikey (Amistoso) and Jazz (Nicolas). So Mikey, may mode siya na wala siyang pakialam sa kung ano yung mga mainstream. Sabay kami (Ciudad and Monsterbot) lumabas at nagsimulang tumugtog eh, pero wala siya masyadong paki na lumabas sa mga Myx o Pulp Summer Slam. And we would both just play and play and play and play—pero siya, na-veer niya into this direction of being cool in so many other ways.

Jazz Nicolas and Mikey Amistoso with Dawn Zulueta, from the facebook page of Liquid Post

Si Pepe Smith din – sobra niyang rakenrol. Sobra din niyang mainstream siya, pero siya yung original na “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll” (na sana mangyari din sa akin—HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!). At hanggang ngayon, na-a-achieve pa rin niya yun , at nagawa niya all the way, na hindi siya nag-artista, hindi siya naging hindi cool.

Si Owel (Alvero/Grand Pricks) – marami na siyang narating pero sa tingin ko marami pa siyang mararating. Outerhope and Ciudad, marami pang mararating. Sago, andyan na sila eh. Si Jorge (Similar Objects) sana mapunta siyang LA at maabot niya yun kasi kaya niya naman eh. Si Idris (Eyedress) din. In terms of a future, nakikita ko sila na umaabot sa international audience na talaga. Wilderness – ayun, gusto ko makita na maging silang parang Queso.


Recorded on December 20, 2012. Cubao, QC, MM. Duration: 27 mins.

Illustrated by Bijan Gorospe

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One thought on “Diego Mapa

  1. Pingback: Quark Henares | The Peripheral Universe

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