By Tiny Diapana
Photos: Alex Alesna
WITH dramatic Bisaya lyrics set behind a backdrop of stylized 80’s synth melodies, Mandaue Nights offers a breath of fresh air to the Cebuano music scene. A lot of music venues have shut down over the past two years, and while bands continue to form under the many niches in the music community, there aren’t that many that write songs in the mother tongue.
Less than a year after forming Mandaue Nights, Karl Lucente and Gino Rosale’s Bisaya synthwave has reached a certain level of success that other local musicians still hope to achieve. Not only has their first song “You and I” become a hit in Cebu, their second song “First Kiss” reached the 13th place in MXYs Pinoy MYX Philippines Countdown.
Now, after the launch of their first EP, “Love City” Karl and Gino take time to speak with Sunstar Weekend about Mandaue Night’s story.
First of all, congratulations on your successful launch back in April 15. How was the crowd at ASPACE Cebu? Any particular moments during the launch that stood out the most?
GINO: Everyone was beautiful and amazing that night. I loved the part when everyone was singing “First Kiss” in unison from start to end. Surreal experience.
Karl: I agree with Gino. I still need more time to let it sink in.
What’s the story behind Mandaue Nights? When did you and Gino Rosales decide to come together to form the band?
GINO: Becoming a band never crossed our minds. It was just a collaboration we did because Karl knew I was heavily influenced with the 80s sound at that time. Our plan was just to release “You & I” with a music video and that’s it. We never knew that the clamor was there for us to create more songs. Making the band and creating more songs became an afterthought.
GINO: It started with our fascination with synth sounds. We got our inspiration from 80s disco.
KARL: Synthwave? I’m not sure about it but in general I just want to explore the electronic side of music. So maybe synthwave is one of it.
When did you make the conscious decision to write your songs in Bisaya?
GINO: When Karl sent me the demo of “You & I,” I thought it was going to be an English song. Then we recorded it and for the first time, I heard him sing it in Bisaya. I remembered smiling as I was listening to it. I think it was an experiment if we can pull off having this sound with bisaya lyrics.
KARL: Maybe I’m just a curious musician. I always wonder how it would sound like.
Can you name some of Mandaue Nights influences?
GINO: Michael Jackson, Depeche Mode, New Order, Baltimora, Ken Laszlo, Lou Sern.
KARL: The Killers & Haim.
How do you come up with your music and your lyrics? What’s your creative process?
GINO: It usually starts out with the music. General rule is if it sounds good to us then we go with it. Then lyrics come right after. Usually Karl does it.
KARL: Haha. I was not mentally prepared for this but well “Love City” was actually a collaborative effort from different artists here in Cebu. So maybe our process or habits are not so strict? Whatever floats the boat? Haha.
Manduae Nights has already performed in multiple cities across the archipelago. What have you learned so far from your recent tour? Which city do you like playing for the most?
GINO: Cebu will always have a special place in our hearts. It made Mandaue Nights into what it is now.
KARL: Cebu, CDO and Butuan! Haha.
What’s the perfect gig like? What kind of places do you enjoy playing in?
GINO: I enjoy playing in small venues like bars. I like it intimate with the crowd.
Mandaue Nights has received a lot of support ever since “You and I” was released online. What does it feel like to have so much overwhelming success and support? What kind of challenges do you face as a band?
GINO: I still don’t know what to say until now. Everyone has been so supportive of the band and it is just so overwhelming. It always makes us happy when people message or tweet us that they loved our songs. The challenge so far in our band is letting people understand why there are only two members and how we perform live. Hehe.
KARL: I’m still processing everything that’s happening to us. Surreal experience up until now. For me, the next challenge would writing more songs and singing more often. Huhu.
What kind of advice can you give aspiring musicians? Any special message to your fans?
GINO: Just go do your thing. Put love into what you are making.
KARL: All I can say is do whatever makes you happy.