Wednesday, January 27, 2010


CURRENTLY on a bar tour to promote their second album called, well, 2nd Album, Pinoy Soul pioneers Sinosikat? continue to mesmerize old fans and new converts alike with their own brand of what singer Kat Agarrado describes as “groovy, funky, baby-making music for the soul.”

Now an even more potent unit with the addition of Noel Asistores on bass and David Starck on keyboards, I wrote about this band in 2007 for the i Section of the Manila Bulletin. Since then, Sinosikat? went on to achieve the expected greater heights. Kat bagged Singer of the Year in the 2007 NU 107 Rock Awards while the band snagged Best World/Alternative Music honors for “Turning My Safety Off”, Best Jazz Recording for “Akin Ka”, and People’s Choice for Favorite Group for “So Blue” in the 2008 Awit Awards,

Recently, the iced tea brand C2 also signed them to perform the product’s carrier commercial single, “Best About Life,” that also featured arrangements by the band. Sinosikat also performed the song during its formal launch on the Sunday noontime show, ASAP.

The new album’s carrier single, “Nung Iniwan Mo Ako” was written by Sugarfree’s Ebe Dancel. Featured in the video below, it’s a haunting ballad featuring Kat’s evocative and crystal clear vocals in a moving lounge arrangement. It’s just Kat, a piano and a painful loss.

Sinosikat? and 2nd Album are distributed by Warner Music Philippines. For more information and schedule of their ongoing 2nd Album tour, visit their official site here. You can also join their Facebook and Multiply fan pages.

And here’s my first encounter with Sinosikat? in 2007:


SINO Sikat o Sino Si Kat? Is it who’s famous or who is that lead singer? As double entendres go, the name of this much talked about band is quite the mystery. And it wasn’t even the idea of its members.

“Actually, it was Vic Mercado and Nathan Azarcon of Bamboo who suggested that name,” recalls vocalist Kat Agarrado. “Nathan would always sing ‘sinosikat?’ repeatedly whenever he sees me. I was a little hesitant at first, but the band agreed it was a good one. It could create interest which it does now.  One word with a question mark. One answer is pretty obvious, the other,  merely a matter of time.  A question or so much as a statement. You decide.”

Yes, it’s one word with a question mark. Well, there certainly is no question about this band’s ability to get our attention, what wiith music they describe as “an orgy of jazz, soul, funk, rock and broken beats.” Sinosikat? is what happens when individuals with diverse musical influences join forces and develop their own unique sound.

Drummer Reli De Vera grew up listening to music from the 50’s and 70’s as well as being heavily influenced by his father, an accomplished bass player in his own right. Guitarist Nick Azarcon got his groove from the likes of Sting and The Police, Jeff Buckley and grunge legends Alice In Chains. For her part, Kat is big on Ella Fitzgerald, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Bamboo as well as “music from the 70’s era.”

And with the help of equally seasoned session musicians that included Aya Yuson of WDOUJI, Mong Alcaraz of Chicosci, Ira Cruz and Vic Mercado of Bamboo and their former bassist Allen Umali, it’s small wonder Sinosikat?’s self-titled debut CD has as Kat would put, “a little bit of everything.” “It has good vibes and sets the mood right. It’s groovy, funky, baby-making music for the soul,” Kat enthuses.

The sultry singer anchors the 10 tracks of the band’s Warner Music release. They give a fresh funkydelic take on their cover of “Telepono,” a song originally recorded by the 70’s funk outfit, The Advisors, an act whose hit, “Yugyugan Na” was also covered by Karl Roy’s P.O.T. not too long ago. “The moment we heard this song we thought it was super and we wanted to let this generation know that there was a band na kasing groovy nila dito sa pilipinas dati pa,” exclaims Kat. Sinosikat?’s update of “Telepono” includes a reference to text messaging that the original didn’t have.

Other standout tracks include originals like “Akin Ka” (which Kat says is about “a lover who worships the object of his affection from afar”), “Prayer” (“an inspirational song about faith and facing challenges”), “Pag-Ibig,” (“our ultimate love song”), “Tragic Beauty” (“about a free-spirited wild child”) and the current crowd favorite, “Turning My Safety Off” (“about wanting somebody back after a breakup”)—all performed with inspired aplomb by a band worthy of being at the forefront of the so-called Pinoy Soul Movement that they themselves co-founded with Cosmic Love and Pinoystories two years ago.

“Pinoy Soul is more a movement than a genre,” Nick points out. “It espouses friendship and love among musicians and music lovers alike. The music is very different from what is considered as pop nowadays. It is earthy, sultry, sometimes slow, but all the time heartfelt in its emotions. What it seeks to accomplish is bring more intimacy into the music, taking in also the vibe of the crowd as part of the experience of being musicians, and playing live.”

Kat is more animated when she talks about this movement. “Ang saya lang parang get together lang namin ito once a month. Dahil magkakaibigan kami sa totoong buhay noong-noon pa. nabuo talaga ito out of love and friendship,” she beams. “We plan to make the Pinoy Soul Movement big and introduce everyone to a different but comfortingly familiar sound that they can add to their iPod playlists. Our mission is to promote and spread the love. Pag-ibig ang aming main ingredient and of course to promote original pinoy music na may taste at may mission to inspire.”

That’s quite a mouthful. Are these pretty much the same things that they hope to accomplish with their record? “We never considered the songs here as part of a supposed theme,” says Nick. “The music is a reflection of the kind of collaboration between the members of the group. We can write about anything under the sun, and while the lyrics are important, the music should always be able to get our messages across without any further explanations, and that is what we focused on.”

Well, it certainly doesn’t hurt that Kat sings and performs these songs with Diva-esque authority, thanks also in part to a chops-honing stint with no less than Pinoy Rock legend Wally Gonzalez as well as jamming with other musicians including the members of Bamboo.

“I feel very fortunate and blessed to play music with the living legends and the pioneers of Pinoy Rock,” says Kat. “That’s actually where I get my inspiration from. it is a priceless experience. My bandmates are cool about it and besides I represent Sinosikat? and it’s like taking one for the team.”

A driven band that’s “influenced by the past and inspired by the future.” Yes, it may only be a matter of time before people stop asking the question that their name prompts. There is at least one definite answer for that now. Sinosikat? ang sikat ngayon. 

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