For musician and analog audio format connoisseur Kurvine Chua, his brainchild the Genjitsu Stargazing Society (or the GSS for short) is not in the prod he expected it to be. What started out in 2016 as an outlet for creative endeavors including a film, a musical play, and his solo music project Memoryville, had no definite plan. Three years into the game, making music the main focus of the GSS just happened naturally.
Dubbed as an arts collective who share a common outlook in life, the GSS’ forefront is being a DIY music/cassette label with a diverse roster of creators under its wing.
A quick run through the label’s gold mine of a Bandcamp page is a journey in itself. For avid enthusiasts and new bloods to the DIY scene, their catalogue of releases will certainly not disappoint. They have since released cassette tapes from musicians like Killuv, .Wendil (Mika Manikan), Savedhistory(Nadine Galleguez), Tim Äwä (Zephra Theodosha Lagos), youngsleepyboi (Moe Cabral), Joe-chu, Pamcy, Ozzga, and Washington Drama Club, to name a few.
Recently, they hosted the Philippines’ first Cassette Store Day and helped out with wendil’s EP launch party for Mika Manikan’s solo project .wendil. The GSS is definitely a movement with a life of its own, with a lot in store for the future — more music, films, zines and wherever their creative urges take them.
For this feature, we spoke with Kurvine , Mika, Nadine and Joe of the GSS about their thoughts on the label and freedom with DIY art.
Young STAR: What is behind the counterculture arts movement of the GSS?
Kurvine: Here in the Philippines, there’s a lot of toxic politics in the arts scene. That’s something we want to veer away from. We want to keep things as pure as possible. Absolutely no sexism, discrimination, harassment, and abuse is allowed in the GSS. Everyday, I see people who don’t do things primarily for the music anymore — they focus on fame, money, etc. In short, we just want to release good music.
What is something you love about the collective?
Mika: They believed in sincerity, as did I, and I believed that no one should ever have to feel lonely. We both believed that this lifetime is too short, and the world beyond is too vast to get caught up in the meaninglessness of worldly problems. All we have is the beauty we get to create with others before we all fade away, and that’s alright. So the idea of making a formal group for what we already did really appealed to me.
Would you say that the GSS is deeply rooted in the DIY movement?
Kurvine: We’re very much inspired by other communities — tape labels like Z Tapes and Struggle Records, collectives like Sleeping Boy. That’s the amazing thing about this — you enter a place, and it feels like home. Everyone knows each other, and it feels like friends hanging out. That’s what we’re trying to build — a community of people passionate about art.
Mika: It’s hard to pinpoint when and where the adventure began, but we could say it began with my relationship with my partner, Kurvine. We had just wrapped up a successful play and a short film together with other talented artists and organizers, and as we were, we were supporting each other’s craft in our respective fields. We also kept our hearts and hands open for the people who we had worked with before, who really loved what they did.
What are the kinds of sounds do the artists under GSS fall under?
Kurvine: Our label contains sounds from various genres which make sense as a whole. Most of our roster is made of Filipino artists, but we have foreign artists as well — Rosedal (dream pop band from Argentina), Linearwave (lo-fi hip hop artist from Brazil), and killuv (lo-fi indie pop artist of Filipino descent from the US).
How is the GSS different from other labels?
Nadine: I think it’s the wide range of artists they put together. They don’t stick with a theme. There are no restrictions. Everyone is free to do their own thing and explore in or outside of their comfort zone. It’s great what this community is doing. We’re like a peculiar family but everyone is seen and appreciated.
Joshua: Me and the people behind the GSS bonded over the idea of music without bias, music that doesn’t care about society’s rules, and music that heals because that’s what it is for. And that is what makes GSS special, If you check out the label’s artists you’ll find a sea of different styles from electronic to prog to everywhere you want it to go. I love collaborating with my fellow peers under GSS cause they bring something new to the table. We all run with the purpose of sharing the love through music.
What kind of impact do you think the GSS makes in the local music scene?
Mika: A lot of people may say that the ideal is too lofty, but I truly believe that artists and musicians can help each other if we learn to love and appreciate our differences, and realize that we’re all connected. Kindness and positivity are still realities, [as long as] you keep your heart open to them.
Kurvine: We also want the GSS to be an avenue for listeners to discover more music, especially in the local scene. If, for example, they like one of our artists, they can go through our roster and discover even more they’d like. It’s a domino effect.
What are your top releases from the GSS?
Kurvine: All our releases are equally amazing! Here’s some of my faves which could be found on Spotify:
TIM ÄWÄ – TIM ÄWÄ: Post-rock from Lucena! An amazing project from Zephra Lagos.
Ozzga – When You’re Away: Shoegaze from Manila! Channeling MBV, Slowdive and, at times, Radiohead.
Pamcy – Deep Sea Pearls: Neon lights-inspired electronic music from producer Pamcy Fernandez.
killuv – self titled ep: A solo project from Alana Fleder. R&B meets bedroom pop on this one.