Tibok Productions presents SoundTrip Musikfest, a two-day music festival at Bindlestiff Studio from July 6th – 7th. The festival is a hand-picked curation of Filipinx musicians from the Bay Area and Los Angeles whose music ranges from hardcore punk, hip hop, pop rock, and alternative pop. Born from the desire to bring back the underground music scene in San Francisco, SoundTrip aims to become a space that celebrates the many dialects of Tagalog and the multifaceted nature of Filipinx culture and identity.
“The phrase ‘sound trip’ is just an expression in the Philippines - like, ‘Sound trip tayo!’” Angelica Cabande, one of the organizers of SoundTrip, laughs as she recalls her childhood memories in the Philippines.
“It’s said amongst people who want to listen to whatever music that they like. When I was growing up in the Philippines, my friends and I would say that and then we would go listen to music – just hang out or listen to it in stores, in front of our houses, out in the street. We thought it would be nice to bring that idea back to San Francisco and to educate FilAms about what that phrase meant. So ‘sound trip’ became the model for the festival itself because we wanted to showcase a lot of different bands from all genres,” says Angelica.
Rupert Estanislao, lead singer of the fast, hardcore punk band AninoKo playing on SoundTrip’s opening night, explained his own definition and understanding of the festival’s namesake.
“The word ‘sound trip’ itself – it’s something that I used to do as a kid and I still do this now. As a kid, I would discover music and I would put it on my cassette tape player and I would listen to the whole album, all the way through. That's sound tripping. You listen to it, you read all the lyrics, you're getting into the music like, "Who is this? Why do they write lyrics like that? It could mean this or that. That's sound trip. Experiencing and digesting music. I think people came together for this festival to enjoy each other's music and company. There hasn't been an opportunity for Filipino musicians of all backgrounds to get together and actually play music so I think that Angelica Cabande and Raymond Castillo are filling that void with SoundTrip,” says Rupert.
The front man of the hardcore punk band views the festival as a bridge between the different, niche cultures that exist under the umbrella terms of Filipino, FilAm, and Pinoy. AninoKo is one of the rare bands in the Bay Area whose lyrics are entirely in Tagalog and Visayan, exploring themes of the diaspora and the immigrant experience. The anger in their music is what puts them in a unique position to portray another side of Filipinx culture that’s often overlooked - the frustration of displacement, both from the homeland and within San Francisco, as well as the resilience and strength that emerges from pain.
“Filipinos are very musically inclined, but it's mellifluous, it's beautiful - it's harmonic music, you know? That's both a great trait about our people and one that I've contended with in the past. People sing about love and passion and happiness. AninoKo doesn't sing about that kind of stuff. We sing about pain, we sing about diaspora, we sing about rage. I'm the type of person that wears his heart on his sleeve and so are my bandmates so, you know, we do let things bother us, we do get angry about things. I scream, I don't sing a single word. I don't like singing, in fact. I like screaming because I think it has more power that, as a performer, lets you release what you’re feeling in a certain way that you wouldn't be able to release with controlled singing,” Rupert explains.
SoundTrip is making its debut next weekend, but the concept of showcasing Filipinx performers has a long history in the Bay Area. Angelica recalls the earlier days of Bindlestiff when Jesse Gonzales and his team created piNoisepop in the late 90s. Inspired by the local Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco, piNoisepop was geared towards Pinoy rock bands as a stage to show that the genre wasn’t dead, but alive and thriving both in the homeland and abroad. There’s a long history of Filipinx contributions to music and culture in the Bay Area that both Angelica and Rupert want to give a voice to.
“Filipinos are losing ground here in the South of Market, in the Excelsior, in the Tenderloin. We can't always get pushed out, especially when we helped build so much of what exists here and contributed to it,” Rupert says.
“Filipinos have contributed a lot to music, but it hasn't been formally recognized," Angelica says. "For example, Sugar Pie de Santos was a backup singer for James Brown but she was also creating her own, original music. I was a part of a research project where we interviewed Filipinx musicians that had been active during the 1930s-40s jazz scene here in San Francisco. We got to learn more about the jazz scene and the challenges they faced and being seen as a “real” musician. That’s a struggle that many people still face in today’s music industry. It’s unfortunate to see that kind of history trickle down into our time. Nomi, from Power Struggle, even says that in his lyrics: “No mainstream record label will take me on because I’m Filipino.” A lot of these issues still exist which is why it’s important that spaces like SoundTrip exist - to give a voice to this community and to show the talent that can come from it."
Story by Cat Jimenez