September 10, 2012 Emmanuel Peredo

Learning How to Skydive

(An Interview with Jethro Sandico of Skydive Academy)

Indienorte has watched Skydive Academy receive positive critic from the local Baguio and Manila crowd recently. All this despite the obstacles preventing a full blown attack at the scene. They have managed themselves well and are slowly building an arsenal of tunes that will blow your mind. Continuity despite adversity, that we respect, and they deserve to be Indienorte’s first featured article.

We sent out our new writer Emmanuel Peredo to converse with Skydive Academy’s frontman Jethro Sandico, and here is what he got.

Dark, but not too dark.
I would have to say that’s the best way to describe Ayuyang, one of the more established bars in Baguio City. The set starts: Slow, both the crowd and the atmosphere feeling laid back, which is somewhat of a theme when it comes to gigs in the city. At some point during the night though, everyone would get a little rowdier, livelier, and that was a thing to see.

To start off the event, Ibarra is soundchecking. The amps emitted a warm feel to them, with each instrument emphasized as the band started to tune up for their first song. Then came the collected thrash of the drums – and the first song of the first set had started.

Here started ‘Isang Gabi, Isang Layunin’. A benefit gig that was set up to help the people around the city who were affected by the recent storms that plunged Baguio into seemingly unending rains.

And yes, the gig started out pretty fucking awesome.

SKYDIVE ACADEMY – The Third Book of Wisdom from Skydive Academy on Vimeo.

That night’s interviewee was Jethro Sandico of the band Skydive Academy. As their set started, everyone could hear the deep pulse of the bass guitar, and the brass section had started to crowd the stage. The soundcheck sounded Jazzy, a bit of a far cry from the theme tonight which was comprised of harder hitting bands like Zapped, Zephaniah, Boomslang, and Ibarra among nine other groups that played that night. It was different but definitely a welcome break, and as the ‘Third Book of Wisdom’ was played, there was also uniqueness thrown into the mix.

E.P: So the first question’s up, do you have a certain passion for genres beyond Jazz, Blues, and Hip Hop?

J.S: Well, for me, whatever passion I have for enjoying Hip Hop, I usually apply the same intensity for Metal. Whenever I get to talking with someone who’s a bit of a metal head, we’d probably be at it for the better part of a few hours.

E.P: Metal bands like Cannibal Corpse?

J.S: Actually, for me, Cannibal Corpse is a bit more common. I try to dig deeper for that music, usually in the Philippine scene. The bands that don’t really get the attention that they deserve, you know, the ones that very few people listen to. I can say the same thing about the Hip Hop or Jazz scene.

I know that they’re two very contrasting genres, but I still like them all the same. You can also count Punk in that list. The thing is Hip Hop was always more my thing, it suits me better. It was always more about the culture of Hip Hop that has hooked.

Honestly, I don’t really care if it’s Metal, Hip Hop, Jazz, Satanic, or Christian, as long as the theme gets through. There’s always a mood, they can be as direct as they want or as poetic as they want.

E.P: Recently, I’ve been listening to some of the band’s stuff. It’s very philosophical and thematic in nature. What would you say were your influences on such a style?

J.S: That’s actually closely tied in with our music. We usually listen to the raw components of a band. We don’t listen to bands as a whole, like that of N.E.R.D or the roots. Instead we write a lot of our material off of the components of a band. For us, it was never “Let’s go play like the Roots”, more like “that bass track was nice” or the “trumpets in that song kicked in strong”. Of course, if we were to listen to music for influences, we’d rather go for a more purist approach. For Hip Hop, it would be the Wu-Tang Clan or De La Soul. For Jazz, we’d throw back to the likes of John Coltrane. Our music is really influenced by components, which we write into a whole. So that’s where our philosophy kicks in, education in all aspects, like trumpet playing or Hip Hop vocals.

It’s like this; if we want to play soul or even reggae, we want to learn about the genre first. Maybe glean and gain a bit in the way of improvising or writing. Our music is about that; learning more and more until you can actually apply it, so I guess the philosophy of our music is pragmatism.

E.P: Is the crowd in Manila any different from that of Baguio

J.S: The crowd is awesome. It’s a different feel and the reception is great, but it doesn’t really compare to Baguio. The people are a bit warmer and it feels more fun when we play our compositions here.

E.P: Have you guys ever felt the cliché “We made it?”

J.S: I think that closely ties in with how music is made, at least in my opinion. You have to work hard, maybe even suffer a bit to finish a song. But if we do get a track that we really love out there and we did that with our hands, then that’s a great feeling.

It’s not about rock and roll all the time, we have to use a lot of brain, hard work, and persistence. That goes along with a lot of support from our friends and family, not to mention from the bands that you respect. You really need that respect.

Like at first, it was just a bit of drinking sessions with those same people, but when they actually get to watch your own band play and you know that the band actually made an impact on them, you build that respect slowly but surely. At the same time though, it’s a humbling experience. When you impress the people you respect, there’s no huge ego trip, more like you feel like you achieved something through your own hard work, not because “we made it”.

E.P: So what keeps your passion in the music scene?

J.S: Well, simply put, it’s like you don’t want it to end there. Not with the first track or the first recording. Playing music is the passion in itself, but raising the bar is the purpose of improving. That’s what we’ll keep doing; improve upon the last song until the next track is something we can be more proud of.

Skydive Academy is:
Sabas De Vera – Bass
Jed Sta Maria – Drums
Jethro Sandico – Mic
James Tolentino – Trombone
Julian Siapno – Trumpet
Benito Ibanez -Trumpet
Daryl Ladioray – Saxophone
Jason Sta Maria – Guitar
Sean Caburao – Guitar

HIPHOP/JAZZ/SOUL ENSEMBLE (for bookings contact: 09186082593)