Serendipity. That and an unusually accurate sense of direction were what led us to an obscure warehouse in Marikina, where Paolo Valenciano was about to launch his solo album.
Fresh from codirecting the “Arise: Gary V. 3.0” concert, which celebrated his father’s 30th anniversary in the music business, the front man for alt-metal band Salamin decided that Aug. 9 was the best day to showcase his new brand of music to the world, or at least, to his closest friends and family members first.
“Everyone was still on a high after ‘Arise,’ so I asked a whole bunch of people from the production team for favors,” Paolo explained. “Butch Cruz (our lighting director for ‘Arise’) and Otto Hernandez (who designs stages for raves and events like 7107) were free on that day. Soundcheck, our sound-system company, was also free on that day so it was the perfect time to pull every string I could get my hands on.”
His efforts weren’t in vain. It was like walking into a set of a movie or a music video; the entire Soundcheck warehouse was Paolo’s own stage, with artfully placed LED panels and speakers amid stacks of old sound equipment. A full band, which consisted of friends and members from his church, perched atop makeshift ledges bathed in vividly colored lights.
It may have been just a private listening party, but Paolo made sure his audience got an amazing audiovisual experience. And we did. “I told my label that even though there was no time to invite people, I would rather have a grand event and shoot it than to have an event with more people with subpar equipment,” he said.
Paolo kicked off his 45-minute set with his rendition of After Image’s “Tag-ulan,” the first track from his debut album “Silence/Noise,” released under Star Records. A departure from Salamin’s decidedly heavier sound, his solo repertoire is what he calls “a fusion of pop and postrock,” with contributions from master songsmith Ebe Dancel and Zel Bautista of indie band December Avenue. His Salamin “brother,” guitarist Sho Hikino, even lent a hand in producing some of the tracks.
What led him to go solo? “An offer was made and I took it,” he said simply. “I think it is every musician’s dream to be able to record one solo project, to do and write whatever you want. Rivermaya also had a lot to do with it. I sessioned for them for a few months and it opened my eyes to the possibility of singing in a genre that wasn’t heavy rock.”
Not the end of the band
Although he’s been blessed with new opportunities and support from various people in the industry, it hasn’t always been this easy. Apart from genre expansion, Paolo admits that his decision to go solo also has a lot to do with certain realities that every musician must face.
For the Salamin fans out there, the front man reassures that this solo venture doesn’t mark the end of the band. “Salamin will always be there. I love that band almost as much as I love food. It is already a part of who I am,” he said.
“But the reality is we all have bills to pay, we all have responsibilities that go beyond us. And the need for money can compromise your art. So we decided, as a band, to reach a point where we no longer needed to compromise our sound just to earn. When we get to that point, Salamin will come back.”
Paolo’s currently got his hands full with preparing for his album tour and juggling directorial duties for upcoming events, notably Toni Gonzaga’s major concert at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. In the meantime, audiophiles can check out his first single, the soaring ballad “Muling Magbabalik,” on his Facebook page.
Got a local band or artist you want featured in Super’s pages? Let us know and we’ll check them out! Hit us up on Twitter (@inquirersuper) or e-mail us at [email protected].