The opening lines of an electric guitar and keyboard, the drop of the drum beat, the deep reverb of bass, and then the intonation of lyrics, sung as a breathy whisper or an explosion of sound.
In the age of iTunes and Spotify, music can be acquired as swiftly as you can connect to a WiFi network; you can play a song just by a few swipes and clicks of a button. But there is still nothing quite like being physically present for a live performance, watching the musicians pull out all the stops on stage and feeling the audience come alive in the melodies and beats. It is music incarnate – one of those priceless moments when you can see what music can do and what it can elicit from people.
With the digitization of sound, music is as accessible as it is ubiquitous. To most, it is a playlist on their smart phones, the week’s greatest hits on the radio, something to get you by traffic, or a stressful work day. But to some, music goes beyond the mundane definition of simply filling in the quiet gaps. To them, it is a language, a mode of expression, one of the most powerful ways by which one can convey identity and emotions – to such people, music is as important as the air they breathe.
It is this passion-driven insight that Jack Daniel’s has been tapping into as far back as the 1800s. “We’re already supporting independent music globally, so it’s a matter of seeing how the development music scene is in specific countries…when we localize the program, it’s more to support independent music,” said Jack Daniel’s Philippines Brand Manager Gabriel Fajardo at last Tuesday’s Future Legends Media and Trade Launch. Held at the swanky Buddha Bar in Makati, the event featured the top three local indie bands that emerged as the favorites in the recently concluded search for Jack Daniel’s Chosen One–Farewell Fair Weather, Flying Ipis, and Autotelic.
“It’s in our brand architecture – Jack Daniel’s and music – and from there we’ve been able to brand our music, especially band music. Locally, we’ve been able to develop that since the 1990s,” said Fajardo. In fact, it’s not too hard to believe that band music and alcohol make a good mix. The man behind the world’s best-selling whiskey himself started playing with his own band at saloons. And the scene is not far-removed from present reality, where bars boast a line-up of bands that attract audiences, having them sing along to their favorite tunes while holding up glasses of beer and whiskey. Jack Daniel’s simply elevated the idea to an advocacy: to support the local indie music scene and search for music groups that can become tomorrow’s legends.
More than just hosting events and music tours, Jack Daniel’s holds a music program that develops the talents of young artists. The Jack Daniel’s Future Legends program is geared towards showcasing the next batch of great musicians living up to the ideals of discipline, hard work, authenticity, creativity, and independence.
Through an intensive two-year program, Jack Daniel’s scouts for emerging bands and trains them for a professional career in the music industry. From 2010 to 2013, the program oversaw the growth and progress of multiple bands, and awarded the much-coveted title of Jack Daniel’s Chosen One to goth-punk visionaries, Mr. Bones and the Boneyard Circus. In looking for bands, Fajardo mentioned that they listen to a band or artist’s overall sound and see how they perform as an act: “There’s no specific style. It’s more on the level of artistry and the cohesiveness of the band in recording and, especially, live.”
Most recently, the 2015 title was awarded to a young, soul-fusion band called Farewell Fair Weather. The one-year-old band from UST is made up of five members: Mic Manalo on vocals and guitar, Kim Jin on guitar, Gani Palabyab on keyboards, Ethan Muriel on bass, and Fernando Mendoza Jr. on drums. Making sure the band sounds good together is Farewell Fair Weather’s sixth member and sound engineer, Leng Guerrero.
We caught up with the band after the event to talk about their music, their personal inspirations and influences, and their experiences under the program.
How would you describe your music style?
Mic: I think it’s fusion.
Jin: We derive from different genres.
Gani: Each member has a certain influence: I like gospel, I like soul. This guy (points to Fernando) is an RnB person and Mic is a soul person.
How do you make your music?
Gani: Lyric-wise, Mic is in charge of that. Music-wise it’s everybody. That’s what makes us fusion. I think it’s safest to call us soul-fusion because soul really comes out – I’m a soul person, Mic is a soul person…
Where do you get inspiration?
Mic: Everything. Siyempre, love – love for everything, for your family, friends. Our song, “Beyond”, our single right now, is about the band. We experienced a lot of ups and downs already. It’s actually a song thanking God for giving us each member.
What was the process in being Jack Daniel’s Chosen One?
Gani: We were what you call a Wild Card in this whole JD program…we weren’t supposed to join, but then one of the JD representatives – it just so happens that we were there at a certain time at a certain day – liked us. So she talked to us and invited us to join.
Mic: Jack Daniel’s Music Program is not a competition, not a Battle of the Bands, not about likes. It’s a program that helps musicians or artists, especially independent music.
Gani: Jack isn’t just there to support us; they’re also there to guide us. They get one of the best people from the music team to help us become better. It’s not just musicians – they get producers, managers – and we learn from them. I think that’s one of the best things getting out of this. It’s really a learning experience.
Ethan: Even if you don’t win or you’re not the chosen one, it’s a great experience. You can really learn so much from the program.
What does it feel like to be the Chosen One?
Mic: It’s actually pressuring in a good way. We feel like we have more responsibilities as artists.
Ethan: And we are thankful because they are giving us gigs. They’re giving us opportunities to play. And [they] help us capture more audiences.
Gani: Overwhelming! We’re not just representing ourselves anymore.
Mic: Yes, we’re representing the country because we were brought to the regional Music Matters Live in Singapore. And also to another southeast Asian country – all the representatives will be there and they will be playing there.
How has it changed your music?
Ethan: We’re better now. We’re aware of the things that we should do; to watch how we make our music.
Gani: It gave us more direction.
Jin: Personally, I learned to be more myself on stage, without exaggerating myself.
Mic: Or not to be pretentious. They made us ourselves, individually, and as a band. They’re not restricting us on anything; they’re pushing us to be better all the time. One part of the program was that we had to make our own song. What’s good about Jack is even after the program ends, we’re part of the Jack Daniel’s On Stage program. And now you have Jack Future Legends. Up to now they are still guiding us all the way.
Advice to young indie bands and artists?
Mic: Just be yourself and if you really love music, just go for it. I think the most important thing is to keep your feet on the ground and be open to changes, challenges, and people who are guiding you and willing to help you. Also, be professional and punctual!
Gani: Yes, especially if you’re taking music seriously, you have to be professional. If you really see yourself doing this for the rest of your life, be professional about it.
Jin: Music isn’t a joke. It’s an art form, a form of expression and creation.
Ethan: My tip to the young musicians out there, don’t listen to yourself, listen to the whole band. Stay open-minded.
Mic: Yeah, that’s why we got Leng to be in charge of our overall sound. She creates the magic. She balances everything.
Catch Farewell Fair Weather at the Jack Daniel’s Future Legends – Roll Call gigs, which starts this October 16 at Saguijo Café in Makati. For schedules and more info, visit Jack Daniel’s Philippines (facebook.com/JackDanielsPhilippines) or Farewell Fair Weather (facebook.com/farewellfairweather) on Facebook or through the following event and media partners: JB Music Philippines, Rogue Magazine, Amplify.ph, NDFY.me, VandalsontheWall.com, RadioRepublic.ph, and PinoyTuner.com.
Want to be more involved in support of the Indie Music Scene? Be part of the JD Future Legends Insiders Team—an exclusive crew of passionate local independent music fans who are willing to help promote and document the local indie music history’s roster of future legends.
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