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Beyond the verge Drip succeeds on its own trippy term

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THERE is a palengke of bands in the Pinas today. There are so many, it’s hard to keep track of them. Aside from the sheer number, what’s more surprising is the diversity and combination of styles they offer – pop, hip-hop, bossa, jazz, reggae, and rock in all its permutations – indie, metal, classic, etc. Name the style you want, and there’s a Pinoy band that plays it. With varying degrees of acceptability. One band sticks out like a naked albino in a crowd of swarthy Pinoys. Unlike the emo-laden look of many of the young alt bands around, they’re as cool as they come. No thrashing for the crowd or playing desperate for audience approval. Even their name – Drip – connotes a kind of holding back…unless you’re Pinoy and you think “health issues.” What’s with the music? “In terms of genre, it’s difficult to say we’re just chill out, or we’re trip hop, or drum and bass,” vocalist Beng Calma explains, “because …sometimes we’re downbeat, sometimes we’re hardcore rock and you can hear it. So to make it simple, Malek described our music as song-based electronica.” Malek Lopez is Drip’s keyboardist. He and Beng are the remaining original members of the band. “Ang kaibahan lang namin sa ibang banda wala kaming gitarista, drummer,” adds Malek, “Ano lang, tatlong kalbo sa likod ni Beng. Pero siguro ganun din yung tunog na habol namin.” Their first full-length release is a 12-song all original album called Far Side of the World. The songs are all in English even if Malek and Beng are conscious of the need to have songs in Tagalog in order to connect with the Pinoy audience. But they are unsure if they have the competency to pull it off. “Pina-project naman namin yan, eh,” Beng says with mild apology. Even their second album, now in the making, features their trademark all-original, all-English songs, but with recording only halfway through, the unexpected may still happen. What’s with the name?

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One Philippines

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Apparently nothing, they say. “May topak yung gumawa ng pangalan,” Malek adds, referring to their former guitarist who left for the U.S. in the middle of recording their first album. “To be honest we don’t really give it much thought,” Beng confesses. So Drip is just an easy word, like ball.

What’s with the band? With their guitarist gone, Beng and Malek brought in Ian Magbanua, a DJ who snagged the grand prize in an international contest. On stage Ian mans the PC (personal computer) and provides the beats, basslines, guitars, and other things that Malek doesn’t want to play anymore. So with Ian on board, Drip completed its first album in 2005. Like a proud mommy Beng enumerates the accomplishments of her baby. To date, Drip has done four music videos, one of which won the Best Indie Music Video Award for “Song # 9” at the 2005 MTV Music Awards. It was directed by R. A. Rivera. Another music video for the song “Sweetcheeks” was nominated in the Best Animated Video category at last year’s MTV Awards. It was made by the visual artist Juan Alcazaren. The video didn’t win, but he and Beng are getting married this May so all is well in the world. Aside from the videos, the band also appeared in compilation albums, notably the one for the World Wildlife Fund and the multi-platinum tribute album for Apo Hiking Society Kami na Po Muna where they covered Apo original “Kabilugan ng Buwan.” Recently the trio became a foursome, when another DJ, Caliph8 joined the group and scratches – “with notes,” Malek emphasizes – to add texture to the music. Caliph8 is also said to have one of the most prodigious collections of vinyl records in the archipelago. While Beng coolly writhes and gathers energy and attention like the eye of the storm up front, the three kalbo guys keep the beats alive in the background, with Malek playing the band’s only traditional musical instrument. Whats with the future? The guys of Drip hold steady day jobs. Beng finished Integrated Marketing and Communication, specializing in Advertising, from the University of Asia & the Pacific. She works in accounts service group of an advertising agency. Malek graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and majored in composition. He once thought he would focus on film scoring but changed his mind. Ironically, most of his new projects now involve scoring music for indie films and a daily fantasy oriented-action TV show. Ian and Caliph8 both work as content providers for an outfit called Wolfpack. The band gigs about six to eight times a month. Which is just enough, Beng and Malek agree. Any more and Drip could disrupt their multi-tasked lives. Their manager says Drip was able to achieve in four years what took pop-rocker Barbie Almalbis 12 years to realize. Which was: find their place in the sun while

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playing their own kind of music, on their own terms. Interestingly, they don’t think much of the future. “Mas okay yung pagka you set out not to have a plan,” Malek explains. Beng adds, “The plan is no plan.” But they do want to perform overseas for their kababayans, or for anyone who will take time to listen. They do want to reach out to more people even if they project a hip, removed air. Malek even dreams of becoming another Lito Camo, credited with writing “Boom Tarat Tarat.” “Siguro we are at the sidelines of the radar, kasi we are not hitmakers (yet),” Beng muses. With the way Drip pursues its no-plan plan, there is no radar in the Pinas that can track them down. Kasi, maya-maya nandyan na lang sila.? For more of Drip, visit www.myspace.com\dripmanila and dripmanila.multiply.com. Their music and videos can be downloaded at Fliptunes (www.fliptunes.net). For bookings and other inquiries, visit Terno Recordings at www.ternorecordings.com.
BY JOJO M. GONZALES

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