I’m not quite sure if Beejay Valero, the clean-shaven guitarist of the band, Project from Jose Rizal University was the first to say it. I am pretty certain, however, that it was a consensus shared by Beejay’s bandmates as well as the other 12 finalists of the Nescafe 3-in-1 Soundskool 2009.
Last week, these finalists all found themselves together in one roof as they learned from music industry stalwarts, from their own favorite bands and even from each other at the much-awaited Boracay Workshop component of the Soundskool competition.
In any other band competition, an all-expense paid trip to Boracay is already quite a prize in itself, expecially given that the majority of them were in the sought after tourist destination for the very first time. “Even in our previous Soundskools, the Boracay Workshop is something that all participating bands would look forward to and work very hard to be a finalist for,” admits Nescafe Marketing Head Yayin Bangcoro. “For us at Nescafe, we see this as an important part in making their dreams come true. Not only does the workshop intend to orient them with the music industry and enhance their skills but it also aims to magnify these young talents as persons as much as they are musicians.”
This particular Band Camp held at La Carmela De Boracay resort had quite a “faculty,” too. Sony BMG executive Vic Valenciano and his Artist & Repertoire man Jinno Mina gave a comprehensive industry orientation that presented the finalists with income-earning options (i.e. ringtones, gigs, modelling, film soundtracks) should they make it big. Band manager Darwin Hernandez talked about how to handle success, Sandwich’s Raimund Marasigan discussed the art of performing in a tone that's a little more serious than what his band demonstrated in their “Procrastinator” music video.
And the members of Pupil minus a fever-stricken Ely Buendia gave an engaging insight on music composition and pretty much told these kids in so many words that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to writing good tunes. Some just come to you in a flash, others take a little or a lot longer to finish—either way, just better be ready to record or write those thoughts down.
There were also equally enlightening breakout sessions on drums (conducted by Pupil’s Wendell Garcia), guitar (by 6cyclemind’s Chuck Isidro) and vocals (by Nei Dimaculangan). Pupil, Sandwich, 6cyclemind, Callalily and last year’s winner, Letter Day Story also headlined the nightly concerts that also allowed the 13 bands to show their wares. While all of them were very impressive, there were quite a few standouts in my book.
During the Mindanao night, Eevee (shown in picture) representing Philippine Women’s University of Davao made a few ears turned with a potential radio hit in their quirky, “Gusto Ko Lang Ng Girlfriend.” The Evanescence-like Lady Suzette from AMA Computer Learning Center in Tacloban featuring the powerful vocals of Maria Daryl Gerlando made a few heads turn during the Visayas night.
Come Luzon night, University of Perpetual Help Laguna’s In Descent brought the house down with their own brand of old school classic rock and just when everyone thought they’ve heard the best, Mapua Institute of Technology’s Nameless Heroes crashes the party on GMA night and pretty much knocks the ball out of the park with their high octane alternative rock.
There were other interesting stories as well. True to their Ateneo De Cagayan De Oro pedigree, Little School House were the most articulate with their impressive views on nationalism during our interview sessions. Given their close proximity to Boracay and frequent visits here, the members of Iloilo Doctors College’s Sundae Special was hoping the workshop was held somewhere else. The original drummer of Mixed Tape of Lyceum-St. Cabrini College of Allied Medicine died from a vehicular accident a year ago and the band is dedicating a song and their performance in his memory. Project is actually a finalist for the second time and was also in Boracay for the workshop last year.
Despite the fact that they’re just in their teens, the syrupy pop quartet called Play from the Polytechnic University of Quezon City have been playing together since they were kids and could also surprise everyone with their cohesive play. I already believe that vocalist Yu-an Rabago, who sings really well, is on her way to a long career in music regardless of what happens on the grand finals.
And that Grand Finals will take place this Saturday, November 14 at the Ninoy Aquino stadium. All told, I could have done a lot worse last weekend. Thankfully, I actually did much better. Not only is it always a pleasure to spend a few days in Bora but it was certainly a lot of fun for a semi-retired music writer like myself to be in the company of such talented young musicians. Forget Fame. Forget Glee. Want to see real talents with plenty of balls? You can't go wrong with Nescafe 3-in-1 Soundskool this year.
Yeah, cream of the crop, indeed.
For more information on the finalists and how to get tickets for the Grand Finals, please visit the Nescafe 3-in-1 Soundskool 2009 home page here.
Here's a performance by Nameless Heroes: