Indienorte has been meandering aimlessly for a while now, and while we’ve been active in the previous years, life and responsibilities have taken over our drive to keep at this website. Once in a while we come across productions and individuals who mirror the gusto and passion of what was once our youthful selves before age and creative decay found root in our souls. We need artistic cleansing and inspiration can be found in the weirdest of places, like in a parking lot in La Union talking to Michel Shwarz of Elyumination.
Indienorte: Can you introduce yourself to everyone and tell us what Elyumination is?
MS of Elyumination: My name is Michel Schwarz (yah I know it sounds like a girl’s name, but trust me, I’m not). Most of the people know me as Jun though. Growing up in Germany, I really didn’t have much contact with the Filipino culture other than through my mom and our biyearly visit. (Usually during the “July rains”).
At 16 an opportunity knocked at my door. I was asked if I wanted to move to the Philippines. The rebellious youth that I was at the time, all I heard was: “Living alone in my own house without parents?…. I’m out’a here!” not much shorter I left everything in Germany behind and moved to Baguio City where I started my college studies at UB.
In Baguio my cousins (incl. Dwight of “Y-jester”,”Nintendo69”,”MessedUp”,”Until August”) introduced me and got me interested in the local music scene. I visited gigs and became somewhat of an underground fan. I knew about Natural Selection, Hard Boiled Eggs, Black Haeven, ZoomZoom Lunacy, SPJ, 2nd Squad and Messed Up. I watched, but never really saw myself getting involved. After 9 years of Baguio life I moved to San Juan (La Union). Here with a new set of friends I totally forgot about the music scene anywhere. Until I met JM who said he plays in band. Fuzzy Fernando… Never heard of those guys.
A few weeks later he invited me to a gig in San Fernando in a Bar called “7th High” (Closed since then). I instantly fell in love with their style and their songs. The only thing that really bothered me was the sound. Why did everything have to sound so shabby? So overdriven and far too loud? All the clarity of the voices and the instruments was just one muddy mess. A few gigs went by and I was a bit disappointed that the quality of sound hasn’t improved a bit. With time, gigs became fewer and farther in-between until there was absolute silence. But by that time I was a fan. I was hooked. I wanted to see more of those guys, more of Fuzzy Fernando, more of Everything is Beautiful, more of ZoomZoom Lunacy. The only option was to create an event…a gig, a gathering, a happening. Thus Elyumination was born.
Ramde of Zoom Zoom Lunacy came up with the name, when I asked him to help me gather bands for a possible gig. I told him that I would like to support local Musicians. I saw that there was and still is quite a lot of talent in and around La Union. And I noticed that they have nowhere to play but in Baguio. Some of the locals can’t afford just to travel to Baguio to play a gig and I didn’t want to travel 2 hours every time I wanted to hear a good band play. I wanted something fresh, something new, something regular (once a month) something with little to no boundaries in terms of music, something promoting togetherness regardless of musical preference. Something local. La Union is too small and the music community is too small to start genre feuds. Another thing I noticed was that bands usually were limited to 3 songs.
Whoever came up with this “3 songs” rule mustn’t have been listening to the range of styles that are present.
This to me did not make sense at all. Especially that we want to be diverse in genre. Punk Bands will play 3 songs in 10 minutes whereas Melodic Rock songs can take up to 20 minutes… each. Whoever came up with this “3 songs” rule mustn’t have been listening to the range of styles that are present. At Elyumination we give you 30-40 minutes on stage. What you do with the time is absolutely up to you. Elyumination is not exclusively for La Union musicians though. Every once in a while we welcome Guests from near and far (MacMina aka MacMeister/ Plead the Fifth/Skyflux – Baguio, Read Between The Lions – Manila, The Happy Hearts Club/Vigan, D.A.D.R. – Jonah/Dagupan…). So in essence Elyumination is a non-discriminatory, monthly La Union MusicFest.
Indienorte: Tell us about the La Union scene, as much as you can the good and the bad.
MS of Elyumination: I think I preempted a lot of good about the La Union music scene with my previous extensive and quite wordy answer. Here’s a recap for all those who TLDR’d the previous paragraph. The good about the La Union music scene is that there is a lot of talent here. But sill almost everyone knows each other. No one is jealous of the other’s success. Regardless of genre bands here do support each other. The Bad? Well I don’t think it is particularly a “La Union” thing, but a nationwide thing. Filipino Time… we usually start around 930-10 in the evening, though call time is 7. A friend of mine and band member (defacto drummer) of several La Union bands pointed out that it is a bit strange and underwhelming that most of those who watch events are bands in the lineup who usually leave after their performance. But somehow in the end the music makes up for it.
Indienorte: What’s your take on the whole “OPM is Dead” thing.
MS of Elyumination: Though I personally didn’t grow up listening to OPM, I don’t believe that OPM is dead. Just last month we hosted an event highlighting the OPM haydays (Elyumination 2.6 – OPM). I will post a link to the YouTube video (audio/picturehighlights). Especially locally OPM is on the rise with more bands writing songs in Tagalog (Stitch, ZoomZoom Lunacy, Wil Cansino etc….) but also nationally I believe that OPM never “died” with a steady stream from Eraserheads before, through Rivermaya and UrbanDub to more modern acts like the Radioactive Sago Project or Flying Ipis.
Indienorte: Is it easier being a band/artist now than it was, say, in the late 90s?
MS of Elyumination: In the late 90’s I wasn’t in a band yet. I was just hammering on my acoustic guitar at home. But I guess with the advances of technology it could be quite easier. You can instantly record riffs on your cellphone, email them to your bandmates and they can add on or tell you opinions at their own time and almost be completely ready before you even started practicing your new song. So, in short. Yes.
Indienorte: Why stay behind the scenes and not say, make a band yourself?
MS of Elyumination: I do have a Band. Mephisto (Jago, JM, Eds and me). But most of the time I’m behind the scenes fixing and adjusting the sounds and lights. As you might have read in the first answer. I didn’t like how the soundsystems here were set up. I had a feeling that most of those who rent out systems just want them to be loud, regardless of quality. That’s why I took it in my own hands to attempt to create sound that I want to listen to and to do the artists visions just.
Indienorte: People in the music business are saying, we lack people behind the scenes, everyone wants the limelight. Do share the same sentiment? Why do you think people don’t see the importance of these people nowadays.
MS of Elyumination: I understand that the glam of the limelight is very attractive. Personally I’m not seeking it. What I look for is quality of recording and live projection of music. Yes, we do lack people for behind the scenes. An artist can’t perform without a proper sound/light system. Even international big acts need engineers and producers (Prince/Rick Rubin…) who keep bands on track and on time and sounding good. To the unsung heroes of the music industry, I salute you and thank you. From what I observe in La Union, sadly people don’t really care about how the sound is as long as it has quite a thumping bass and is loud as fuck! I’m honestly not sure why the roles of producers and engineers is often belittled.
sadly people don’t really care about how the sound is as long as it has quite a thumping bass and is loud as fuck! I’m honestly not sure why the roles of producers and engineers is often belittled.
Indienorte: What are your future plans?
MS of Elyumination: I see the furure of Elyumination as a platform for local artists who seek a stage and recognition. We will try to bring this idea to many localities, for a broader audience. Maybe at one point Elyumination can/will develop into a festival.
Indienorte: Where can we see the shows, videos, whatnot?
MS of Elyumination: You can look up “Elyumination”/”THT Musik” on facebook. Here you’ll find all of our updates, locations, themes and locations of our upcoming events. On there, you’ll also find links to a few Youtube videos of Elyumination.
Indienorte: Thanks for your time, any final words?
MS of Elyumination: There is too much talent and too little space. Let’s live in peace together for the beat of music is the same regardless of genre. From Classic to Thrash, we all play after the same rhythm.
Muchas Gracias 😀