By Tiny Diapana
SHIELA and the Insects is cooking up a brand new album and the Cebuano music scene is shaking. Officially founded in 1995, the alternative rock/new wave revivalist band remains as one of the biggest and most well-established names in the local music industry.
Not only is rocking through two decades unfazed considered a massive feat in itself, but Shiela and the Insects has also established itself as one of the pillars of the Cebuano music scene, earning national recognition with irrepressible hits like “Your Comedy,” “Idle Hands,” “Lemerson,” “Quick to Panic,” and of course, “Maude.”
Now, three years after the debut of its fourth album, “Manipulator,” Shiela and the Insects is back on track with a new set of songs in “Love or Limbo.”
Speaking with SunStar Weekend about the new album, Orven Enoveso (vocals/ guitars) talks about the work he and his bandmates, Ian Zafra (lead guitars), Wesley Chiongbian (bass) and Vince Yap (drums) put into the band’s upcoming release.
First of all, congratulations on the upcoming release! It’s been a while since the band’s come up with a new album, and everyone’s hyped to hear what Sheila and the Insects have cooked up this time.
So there are nine new songs in Love or Limbo. What kind of musical direction is the band taking this time around? What kind of sound can fans expect from the new album?
Thanks, we’re very excited ourselves. The SATI sound will still be there in this new album. I’d like to think that our songwriting will always have that distinct character that underlines all our releases. But definitely, you can expect a lot of new experimentation on many of the songs. I won’t ruin the surprise for the fans but I’m sure they will be on this album. The Wave will be a totally atypical SATI song for example. Always will showcase a different vocal approach for me and I think in general, the vibe for this collection is more current.
According to the preview video you shared online, it took the band five years to complete Love or Limbo. Do you have any interesting stories to share from all the time you spent recording the new songs? What kind of hurdles did the band have to face? Any great stories from the gigs that you’ve been playing in the past five years?
Hahaha, I could write a book if I had the time. But yeah, it wasn’t for lack of trying. It took us a long time to find the groove in our songwriting process even though we jam regularly — once or twice a week. I think we hit our stride around last year when we were finishing one song every two months or so.
Here’s a story: when we were shooting the music video for Alarm recently, which was a performance video, we couldn’t remember how we played our parts for the song. We had recorded this particular song years back so we had all forgotten our riffs. It’s almost embarrassing! We had to relearn our own parts during the shoot.
Sheila and the Insects has been around for more than two decades now. What does it feel like to be on your 23rd year as a band? How has Sheila and the Insects grown throughout the years? What can you say has changed in the past two decades in the Cebuano music scene?
It’s almost unbelievable that we’ve been playing that long. Has it been 23 years?! I’d like to dispute that, hahaha. But I guess if the drive to create is there, you can’t really stop doing it. It’s so part of your DNA already. I still enjoy writing and arranging songs with the band — the good and the bad parts. I can never be a good solo musician because I need to bounce ideas off of other creative people. That’s the fun part. And personally, that’s what’s kept me going.
Cebuano music to me has matured so much across the years. The production quality and diversity of the sound is unbelievable today. There is no single Cebuano signature sound today. That to me is what’s great about our local scene. But we can’t settle. We need to keep producing and challenging ourselves. It’s now a global market after all.
Does this new album mean that fans are going to see more of Sheila and the Insects this year? When is the album launch of Love or Limbo?
Right now, our goal is to just get the material out by October. We’re on-track to do that. We’re releasing singles along the way with music videos to boot. You can say that we’ll be more active in the scene after that. No dates yet on the launch gigs but that’ll be around November I think. We haven’t planned out that far yet.
We’ve heard that fans can start pre-ordering Love or Limbo through Pledge Music’s site. What kind of goodies can fans get if they pre-order the new album?
Yes, absolutely. We’re allowing fans to pre-order and even book us for house parties or coffee sessions. The goal is to engage fans more and at the same time, help fund the CD printing. Sadly, CDs are a losing business endeavor nowadays in this age of streaming and downloads. But there’s still a niche market for CDs and we’d like to offer that option of owning a tangible copy of our album. They can visit the Pledgemusic.com site and look up Love or Limbo. It’s all there, but they’ve got to hurry as the project will close in a few weeks.
Any word of advice to aspiring musicians and bands out there? What do bands have to do to succeed like Shiela and the Insects has?
Success is relative. I think loving what you do is the whole point of any creative endeavor. If you write music or form a band with the goal of “succeeding,” I think it skews your outlook and messes up the experience. I’d rather just do my thing and enjoy the ride. Whatever recognition and successes that comes along just makes the journey sweeter.