May I Try To Convince You To GO Make Something?

The First of Doors

A huge thank you to everyone who gave the album a listen. This is certainly the longest I have ever spent on a musical project. I am incredibly proud of the work I have put out and I’m so happy that I get to call it finished. ‘The First of Doors’ to me, is exactly what the title indicates, the first of many opportunities: the first big step in a long journey.

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If you’re interested, you can listen to the album here

But more importantly, I hope you get something out of this next part…

“Art is really important—it’s just really super important”. –Tom Delonge

The message of this post is that I think everyone should do what I did.

Well not exactly, but I do think you should go paint if you’re a painter, write if you’re a writer, or draw if you’re a…drawer, and take pictures if you’re a photographer—and then share your work with the world (whatever it is you do).

After putting in time for my personal art project, I believe anybody could actually do it, here’s what I found you will need.

Important “Stuff” You’ll Need

  1. To Start
  2. Discipline to keep going
  3. To Finish
  4. The first 3 on the list aren’t optional in my opinion, if you want to make an album like mine, you can read the rest of the list
  5. MacBook Pro (or a laptop of some kind)
  6. Garageband (or music production software of some kind)
  7. Some Instruments
  8. A dedicated microphone
  9. The Internet

Silly side comments…aside, my point is: you don’t need much to pull a stunt like I did. In fact, whatever art or hobby you’re into, chances are, the stuff you need to create it can be rented or you can buy the necessary gear used for cheap or at a good value.

Real talk: I’m just a guy who enjoys making music, I’m certainly not the best singer/songwriter or producer out there but, I’m showing this to tell you that we live in an AMAZING TIME where you can create to your heart’s desire and share what you create. If I’m trying to convince you of anything, it’s that you should go create something and if you’re up for it, to share it with everyone so they can get inspired and create more.

Start, Keep Going, Finish

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I put these at the top of the list because really, it’s in these that you’ll find all that you need.  First, you get started, next, you keep going with discipline of consistent work, and then you finish.

Even if no one but you experiences your work, even if you never post that painting on your Instagram or those pictures. Or if you never allow anyone else to read that piece of writing, I promise you that you’ll be a much happier human being now that that little piece of your soul exists in the real world and you yourself can come back to it.

Every time I listen to my songs now, I feel enormous satisfaction knowing that I put my mind to something and achieved it. I worked on the album until I was truly proud of what I made. I promise that if you really care about something, even if you’re not the best at it, spending time on it and letting it exist is one of the most generous gifts you can give to yourself, and you will find, like Luke Skywalker,–you’re full of surprises.

 

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Making an Album like Linkin Park

The Pros at Work

I saw a youtube video once of Mark Hoppus from Blink-182 and Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park writing a song in front of a live audience. You can watch the video here. Both Hoppus and Shinoda are accomplished musicians, yet during the live session you could see the difference in their writing styles.

Mark Hoppus

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Mark Hoppus

I write very similarly to Mark. The creative process for him takes place quickly and without much thought. In the video, he puts together a very familiar chord progression and skat sings over it–trying to get something to work right away. In the interviews where Hoppus discusses ‘California’, Blink’s new album from 2016, Mark reported that their producer was all about the philosophy of “first idea=best idea”. The band would work with the first idea that came to mind. The songs came together quickly in this way. Ideas were built upon and soon the collection of songs for the album emerged.

This is often how I go about writing my own music. I don’t think about things too much because I want to get a song done. I go over this method more in my article about writing 15 songs a month. I collect ideas, take the time to figure them out (but not too long), and finish them and then record them.

Mike Shinoda

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Mike Shinoda

In the video, Mike says that Linkin Park records could take up to 18 months to make. The reason for that is because he likes to take ideas and allow them to grow. He explains that this means trying different chord progressions with the same set of lyrics to see what looks best, or it could  also mean things like slowing down or speeding up tempos. Shinoda also discussed how he would go about making different versions of ideas for comparison. All of the developments made were there so that Shinoda, and later–the rest of Linkin Park, could decide on which of the ideas was best.

The New Album

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The album so far

Part of the excitement for the record came from this idea that the songs I had weren’t so great. I chose these songs from the catalogue of demos that I had built up since 2015. Most of these songs needed a lot of work before they were ready to record as I had written each of them in separate sessions over the years. Those sessions were 90 minutes in total and my method was to write as many songs as possible in 90 minutes. The challenge of my current project is: if I was to make a record that I am proud of containing these songs, I would have to apply a similar method to Shinoda’s, because essentially, I already have ideas for the songs, but as they are, the songs aren’t the best they can be.

Currently, I have about six songs recorded entirely. What I deemed to be the “final” versions for these songs came after multiple tries and lots of experimentation. I have written and re-written more than I have ever before. As an artist, that excites me because I know I’m out of my comfort zone in trying this new method. I’m excited for you all to hear what I’ve got so far, more demos from the album to follow =)

 

Feel free to follow me at:

facebook: facebook.com/ktheisle

Twitter: @K_the_isle

Youtube: Kyle Uy

How Ed Sheeran Helped Me Write 28 Albums in 28 Months

Ed Sheeran

Over the last 28 months, I’ve written enough material for 28 albums.

Writing in this quantity stemmed from the words Ed Sheeran in his documentary Nine Days and Nights which I watched late in 2014. In the documentary, Ed discussed his early years playing open mics in London and LA.

In those days, he was writing 2-3 new songs per week.

For me, that meant to get to where Ed is, I have to write around 10 songs a month. Since that time and through last year, I usually aim to write between 10-15 songs a month. I describe my songwriting method in my blog post called “How I Write 15 New Songs a Month” .

I’m not saying that I’m greatest songwriter in the world with all of this material and I’m not saying that I’m better than a songwriter who doesn’t write as much as I do. What I want to outline here though is how this habit has helped me as a songwriter and as a musician in general.

Confidence

After writing nearly 300 songs over the last two years and third years, I feel confidence in being able to make something out of any idea that is thrown at me in whatever form it may be in. Yes, in the middle of writing it can turn into a struggle to get the next lyrics or chord down, but with the belief that you can take any idea given to you and turn it into music–you’re much more likely to start and finish the song instead of getting discouraged or scared at the beginning. As I describe in my other blog post, in 90 minutes, I can usually get between 2-3 songs written.

I think knowing what sounds good to you and understanding what you’re looking for from a song gets clearer much faster the more you write. I believe it is in the repetition of putting yourself in the position of working with your ideas and getting what you want out of them that helps you develop the skills to write a song that pleases you.

Tracking Progress: My Song Board

If I finish a song, whether its that forgotten track on the record that is never performed live or a Grammy award winner (in my mind): it goes up on my white board that I call my Song Board. After some time, you’ll see a list of all the work you’ve done as a songwriter, and I must tell you that if you’ve got the number you were looking for, it is incredibly satisfying to see the titles lined up on your board. This is a huge confidence booster for me.

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One week left….

Developing Song Ideas

Whether it’s a guitar or piano lick, a lyric, a melody, or something that someone says that strikes you—you’ll begin to develop a machine in your mind that says “Hey, that’s something I can use in a song”. Once you begin to work with these ideas you’ll get used to making creative decisions about what to do with what you’ve got depending on where you want your song to go.

In writing more songs and also listening to more music, you’ll be constantly putting yourself in a situation to experience where you can take your song, either within a section or when a section progresses to another and even a song as whole.

Taking Breaks

I wrote in another article called “Songwriter’s Block” about how I experience and get over being stuck when it comes to writing music. Sometimes I try things like changing the tuning on my guitar, or starting on a different section in the song–but other times, I’ve found that just not writing that day or at that time is the best thing to do.

I’ve heard before that writing is like a muscle. If you want strong muscles, you have to go to the gym often and do the right kind of workout. Over work  causes burnout. For me, I know this is happening when I’m not coming up with anything that I like. After a day or two of listening to new music, drawing, or watching movies, I’m usually able to come back to the songwriting process with fresher ideas that I’m more excited about.

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The Story So Far for 2017 

I’m Just A Man

These are just a handful of many benefits that I have reaped after writing music in this way. Other things include just having ideas come to you from all directions throughout the day. Suddenly, you’ll feel that you’re surrounded by ideas and that even though you’ve just written a great song–there are still many more to come.

Please keep in mind that this is just my experience in undergoing the development of this habit. Some writers only write when they need to, like when it has been decided that an album or an EP needs to be put together and it is in the weeks before they go to record that all of the music is written. A lot of albums that I love were written this way.

Though guided by the words of Ed Sheeran, I still have a lot work to do to catch up to him. I only hope that in this you have found something of value or gathered an insight. Please let me know.

Thanks for stopping by.

facebook.com/ktheisle
Instagram/twitter: @k_the_isle
soundcloud.com/k4le
email: k4leuy@gmail.com

 

Worlds Collide at Songwriter’s Philippines–Conspiracy Garden: 4/17/17

Songwriter’s Philippines

My first Songwriter’s Philippines Event was late in 2014, when the legendary Sev’s Café was still in full function. The group outlasted the venue and continue to live on today as some of the most prolific artists that I know of. As I scroll through my facebook feed, I can’t go a day without seeing a member of Songwriter’s Philippines excited to be sharing their art.

They simply love what they do.

Since that day in 2014, I’ve been inspired by the passion and talent of this group of songwriters. In that, I was honored to be on the line-up for last night’s Songwriter’s Phililppines Event at the Conspiracy Garden Café in Quezon City.

Conspiracy Garden

I started off the night with Dexter of Social Exile and The Okay Man on the bass guitar for my second and third song. Many thanks man! I really appreciate you coming all the way from Makati to join me for my set.

The line up included the original songs by Christian Bartilad SabadoJohn Depp, Herd PH, Bandang Panda, Tian, and Alex Corner and a member of the band Doppler Shift on the saxophone.

Conspiracy Garden bloomed a fantastic mix of genres. From pop to rock to blues. Solo artists, full bands, and duos took the stage to carry the passion of their art. Conspiracy Garden provides and intimate encounter with the performers, the emotions are real and the music is loud. While beers were being opened, hearts and minds were too. Last night was a celebration of the love songwriters have for what they do and the willingness to share their art with an audience of their brethren.

It was great to see some familiar faces and meet a host of new songwriters. To everyone who came out last night—I appreciate you all giving your all to us. As we continue our journeys as writers and performers, I hope to see you all again soon. This community has shown great talent, skill and passion. I’m very excited to continue to be a part of it and hear more.

Also, big thanks to Udz who hosted the event last night. It was great talking to you and getting to know you more last night. Congrats on your EP too, thank you for having me!

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For Everyone Who Purchased the EP

Thank you so much for your generosity and kindness. I really can’t say that enough. It means the world to me that you have reached out. A million times, thank you, I pray there is something on the album that speaks to you.

Until next time Songwriter’s Philippines !

4/14/17 Open Mic at Hugot Cafe

It’s Good Friday.

In my last few years here in the Philippines, I’ve found that most businesses are closed on this day—through till the finale of Easter. The exception: Hugot Café hosted its first open mic night of the summer and I was super stoked to be a part of it.

Big thanks to my little brother Keith Uy who went with me to the show. Congrats to him for making Diamond 5 this week in League of Legends.

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Open Mic Night 4/14/17

Hugot Café’s corner stage always  provides a feeling of intimacy for the performer to easily connect with the audience. Paul mentioned that he liked how close the performer was to the audience and that the venue is great. I encourage local artists to keep an eye out for the upcoming events for Hugot Café Las Piñas and join if you have the chance.The show started around 7:15. A young three-piece band called We Love Music took the stage to start the night off.

The acts that followed were myself, my friend Paul Cabading and some spoken word artists, including a representative from Titik Poetry—a well known arts organization in the South. To follow were more poets, music acts, and for the first time, I got to see a magician perform at one of these open mics.

Paul Cabading

I owe Paul big time for not inviting him sooner to the open mics that I attend in the South. The area is his home, and for a guy who can write songs, sing, free style rap, and beat box—he NEEDS to be heard. Tonight, I’m very thankful to Hugot Café for taking him in and lending him the stage. His originals are heartfelt, my personal favorite being his setlist opener “Aking Prinsesa” which he showed to me a few years earlier. It was awesome seeing him perform it on stage. I can’t wait to see more from him.

Find him on soundcloud here .

You

There’s so much blooming talent in the South. It’s great to see that the arts movement there is alive and well and continuing to grow as I always see new faces when I perform at venues near Las Piñas, most of which are younger artists. Even when I began performing a little more than a year ago, it still amazes me how much talent there is in this area–from great singer/songwriters and poets and now–a magician. It’s such a privilege to see and experience the growth of the scene.

To all artists: please don’t stop what you do!

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME HUGOT CAFE

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Thank you guys!

To the staff: thank you so much again for allowing me time on the stage and for the opportunity to perform the songs on my EP. It’s always really exciting to come back to this friendly venue and perform. A million times, thank you for inviting me to be a part of the arts scene in this area.

I hope you all have a Happy Easter.

I will see you all soon.

Writing Songs about Strangers 4/13/17

“Steal(ing) Like An Artist” -Austin Kleon

Hitting another dry spell of song ideas yesterday morning, the idea came to me that I could do something like what Dave Grohl did for the Foo Fighters’ eighth studio album Sonic Highways. On that album, Dave got the content for the lyrics from words and phrases from musicians he interviewed.

There were bound to be some great stories out there, even with just the people living on Taft, I grabbed my notebook, found random people living or working on Taft, and asked them questions. I almost felt like the guy from Humans of New York, but I was taking their words instead of their picture.

Questions

After asking questions like “What are you grateful for in our life?, “What’s something that makes you happy?”, and “What are you most excited about in your life right now?”—I wrote down the answers and went back to my room to write some songs. In the end, it was a fruitful experiment–two new songs.

You can watch the video of me making everyone uncomfortable here.

“Alive and Breathing”

This is the first song I wrote during the session. I approached a mother and her child who were standing outside of my building. I asked the mother what she was grateful for. She responded with “That I am alive and breathing”. I centered the song around this phrase and used another phrase that one of the guard’s of my building mentioned after being asked the same question: “I’m thankful for my ambition”, continuing to say that it is his ambition that allows him to work and put his children through school.

“Mission”

While I was talking to more people, a woman asked me “Why don’t you interview me”. And so I did. I asked her about one thing in life that she was happy about. She responded with “Mission”, as in a purpose in life because she was an optometrist and she felt that this was her life’s calling. I took the phrase and focused the theme of the song to be about someone making the decision to live a full life. This second song is my favorite of the two, lyrically it spoke to me and I was happy that a song like that came from this experiment in generating ideas.

I’ll be posting recordings of these songs soon =

Thanks for stopping by =)

Self Awareness 4/11/2017

While I am performing on my own as a singer/songwriter, the end goal is to end up with a band after I graduate and move. The time spent abroad is being spent focusing on developing the skills I need to be valuable to a band.

I was able to uncover more of the role I want to play though with some experiences this week.

Failing Harder, Or Just a Hard Fail?

I spent the hour that I had booked in the studio running from the drum kit to my microphone and back again (I was there trying to get a good drum take using only one mic).

My eyes on the Grarageband track to see where the volume levels were. I had seen a few videos about how to record a kit with one mic so I adjusted the mic sensitivity, moved the mic stand up and down, but it became immediately clear that I had come ill prepared because I lacked the familiarity with my own gear to properly record the part.

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I made a video of me trying and failing a few times due to the mic positioning. You can watch it here.

Different Skill Sets

The night before going to the studio, I watched a documentary on music recording, a portion of which covered the mindsets of sound engineers.

One of them talked about how he would hear a sound in his head when it came to recording a song and he would want to manifest that sound in a recording by trying different mics, instruments, distancing the musician from the mic or bringing them closer—etc.

The goal was to achieve the imagined idea. While I can relate this with hearing an idea for a song in my mind and wanting to manifest it—I thought of the mic trial and error as well as the repositioning of the musician to be such a bore.

I’m not disrespecting producers or audio engineers–they can capture sounds that as seen and explained in the video–I lack the skills to be able to.  Their expertise and skills are not the kind I’m so interested in however.

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Kyle’s Magical Epiphany on 4/11/2017

It was in this that I realized something about myself: I have been learning producing, mixing, and recording techniques with the intention of being able to record my own music. I’m not super particular about the sound of one element of the song as I am particular about getting the overall song heard.

Before the digital age and even nowadays, pop music was made by producers teaming up with songwiters who teamed up with a talent pool who would record the song. Even in bands, maybe everyone would help write song but it usually fell to the bass player to master the bass part and drummer to master the drum part etc.

And yes, there are people like Dave Grohl who can write an album, record all the instruments on the album, and produce an album on their own, call it “Foo Fighters” and become one of the biggest bands ever:

but at the moment at least–that’s just not me.

Know Thyself

I’m much more interested in grasping just the bare fundamentals of this art of recording because at heart, I am truly someone who just loves to create and perform the music and in the future, I would want to work with someone with more technical know-how to help the sound find its way there–someone who loves the technical part of it.

So for now, this is where I stand on recording: focus on getting the song heard rather than the tiny details. I want to get the song to a place where the emotion and essence can be captured and shared. As time goes on, my skills in writing, producing, and recording will inevitably improve, but the focus will be on the creative process rather than the recording process.

In an age where we musicians can indeed do it all ourselves, for a while perhaps, I will need to. I’m all I’ve got to record my own music. I still want to get back in the studio later this week and work on that drum take and get a good sound and record full band–I’m just not going to beat myself up over it.

If you have any tips on how to record a drumset with one mic in a small room–please let me know.

“Songwriter’s Block” 4/10/2017

Songwriter’s Block

My experience with songwriter’s block is not necessarily the inability to get anything written, but rather a feeling of frustration for whatever it is that’s coming out because the idea, whether it be lyric, melody, or music, isn’t leading anywhere and so I scratch it.

Today is one of those days.

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After several attempts at some lines I had written that were dead ends, I decided to head to the Andrew building to eat on the 6th floor and clear my head a little. I brought my yellow pad with me for after I ate.

Cleaning Out my Closet

In recent weeks, I haven’t given much time to getting my phone ideas onto paper, and so they’ve stacked up quite a bit. Today, I pulled out a few and tried to develop them a little to hopefully find something that I liked.

Thankfully in this process I found some more lyrics to add to these one liners and I also found a couple of catchy melodies to go along with them.

On my way back home, I sang the two that I liked the most to myself.

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This is what it looks like when I sing ideas to myself in public

Writing “Early Morning Dreams” and “Can’t Go Wrong”

What I sang to myself ended up being the choruses to the two songs. The bulk of the time spent writing today was trying to see which key the songs would be best in and which chords to use and then adding the verses.

I gave myself 45 minutes to write the songs and luckily I was able to finish in time. I’m now at 4/10+ songs for the month of April.

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All Hearts out at “Gethsemane” at Uno Morato by Logos 4/8/2017

I’ve never been in a cozier bookstore-made-venue than that of Uno Morato.

Couches occupy the front area where the performers had their turn. Chairs and tables provided seats for the audience in the back but even if you weren’t in the front row like I was—you still felt like the magic of the performances was happening right in front of you.

Gethsemane by Logos

It was a night of artists taking the stage and giving their hearts to you on a silver platter with nothing held back. Spoken word poetry and songwriters with a ukulele, a cajón, a guitar, or a mallet for the glockenspiel in hand—the artists gave it their all.

Powered by some dynamic microphones and an Orange amplifier (damn, I gotta get me one of those) Gethsemane started soon after I signed in.

Spoken Word Artists 

Some of last night’s spoken word line up included Marlo Cabrera, Abby Elbambo, Jeff Bago, and Jedd Ong 

They tackled topics like tragedies that hit close to home, current political and cultural issues, struggles among friends, personal struggle with identity, nationalistic views, and faith with tones sadness, comedy, or pure heart.

I hope it doesn’t come off as mere flattery when I say that last night I got to see some of the most passionate spoken word artists I have ever seen since beginning to perform as a singer/songwriter.

Like I said, hearts were carved out and handed over to the audience—still beating, still bleeding. Each poem, honesty–pure and simple. I salute you poets for your craft—may you never stop.

Singer/Songwriters

It was great to see both Aned and Frankie again as Ellie and the Elephant (2/5 of the band Stories Told) who kicked off the night with “Check Yes Juliet” by We The Kings (I haven’t heard that song in FOREVER). Other acts included the upbeat and rhythmic vibe of the duo who represented Keilem, the catchy hooks brought by Meg D and her ukulele, and the man, the myth, the legend: Jegs Benedict who took the room by storm with his incredible voice and his songs and finally Aned Samson (solo) with a looper pedal, a glockenspiel and his guitar to end the night.

To my fellow songwriters, thank you for bringing your stories. It was so great meeting so many of you last night, I look forward to hearing more.

I want to thank Logos for giving me an opportunity to perform as well. It was said that they hope to make this gathering a monthly event—and I’m stoked for that. The arts movement in this city is definitely alive and breathing with young artists and I’m excited to be performing more up North.

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I also want to thank everyone who purchased a copy of the EP =) it means the world to me, I’m also living on a college budget, and the fact that you all were willing to spend some of yours on my little home project is truly a sign of the generosity in your hearts. I can’t thank you enough for your help.

I pray that there’s something on that CD that you enjoy.

To Logos, and to all those at Uno Morato last night—please continue your inspiring work. Thank you again for a wonderful evening of new friends and stories.

Inspiration Kickstart at ‘Typo’ by Sleepless Productions 4/7/2017

Thank you to Sleepless Productions for hosting us at the Naked Turtle Sports Diner.

It has been a few weeks since I’ve been out gigging with my guitar and due to the vast amount of talent and creativity that I ran into last night at the Sleepless’ Typo Event:  it was great to be reminded again of why I love doing what I do so much.

Venue: The Naked Turtle Sports Diner

The Naked Turtle Sports Diner provides a space for an intimate performance between the performer and the audience. There are tables around the squarish room and couches towards the back. The stage is a designated area near the front door; indicated last night by a couple of stools and mic stands and microphones.

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I got there relatively early and was greeted by a great host and a friendly atmosphere of fellow performers.

The ‘Typo’ Event

More performers trickled in as the night went on and the show began around 7:30pm. Indie artist BEN was the first one up with some of as ‘Sad Songs’, a few of which will be released on his upcoming EP on Spotify (Congrats BEN).

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BEN 

I was second to go and then I was excited to see my cousin Katrina perform later on that night and it was nice to see her, her siblings, and my aunt along with her very supportive friends and sit with them as we listened to the other lined up artists.

I find one of the nice things about being one of the first to perform is  being able to listen to the other performers without having any of your thoughts travel to your upcoming set. Last night after I played, I was able to just sit and listen to the other songwriters and be taken away by their music.

“You’ll Find I’m Full of Surprises” -Luke Skywalker:

Since starting to perform at Open Mics a year or so ago, I’ve been constantly blown away by the variety of talent that exists in Manila’s music and arts scene.

After a few dozen open mics, you start to run into some of the same people and think “alright, I’ve seen at least most of it”, but then soon, another event opens is created—you attend—and you find more and more creatives of all kinds who you weren’t aware of.

You think that Jazz might be the majority of the scene’s preferred style, but then you sign up for an open mic that consists of people who play alternative rock or emo music, other times rappers, comedians, and spoken word artists perform too–all at the same event.

While I’ve taken the last few weeks to record my EP—this idea of the wide expanse of creativity that exists here had slipped my mind as I was just listening to my own music day in and day out.

“If You’re Listening–Sing it Back” (Thank You!)

Last night, I was inspired by my fellow performers.

These are the kinds of people who, after you’re done listening to them, you want to go home and write a song, or discover some new music like theirs or collaborate with them. You just feel like even though you’ve covered some ground, you want to keep going and never want to stop writing, creating, and performing. At least that’s how I feel =)

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First autograph I’ve ever signed =) 

I want to thank Sleepless again for the opportunity again to perform and distribute my EP— a big thank you to anyone who purchased the EP last night—it means the world to me, and I also want to thank them for allowing me an opportunity to tune in the constantly inspiring group of musicians that are here in the Philippines.

I hope to see you all again soon.