Our first encounter with IV of Spades begins with them eating tapsilog at the practice studio’s karinderya, all decked out in their coordinated ‘70s-inspired polos and blazers, yellow tinted sunnies included.
It’s an amusing contrast, but it’s one that pretty much encapsulates the band’s identity. IV of Spades is composed of the kids of musician parents — guitarist Blaster Silonga (18), lead vocalist and guitarist Unique Salonga (17), drummer Badjao De Castro (23), and guitarist and vocalist Zildjian Benitez (20).
They’ve been around since 2014, but this current funk rebrand is what caused the local music scene to really pay attention. While it’s all ‘70s on the surface, their look and sound is really a mish mash of different styles, with influences ranging from the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire to Wes Anderson.
Zildjian confesses that they’ve never been very good with interviews, but the band gamely sat down with Young STAR in the studio ahead of the release of their new single, Where Have You Been, My Disco. Here, they tell us more about their evolution and future.
How did you get together as a band?
Zildjian: A few years ago, [Blaster’s] dad — our manager, by the way, along with Kean Cipriano — three years ago, nag-form siya ng band for his son in the same studio we’re talking in right now. It was June 15, 2014. [He and his friends] wanted their kids to play music together and that was the way the band was formed. It became our passion as we played together more.
You recently started rebranding with the ’70s style. How did that come to be?
Zildjian: I didn’t even know if it’s a concept or just an expression of what we’re doing right now. Maybe you can hear the music — it’s heavily influenced by ’70s disco. so the fashion was influenced too, and the art, and the way we play. Actually, we’re influenced by a lot of eras. From The Beatles [in the] ’60s, ’80s Michael Jackson, ’90s hip-hop. A mixture of different music. Pero siguro ang nag-lead talaga to this re-branding was doing what we want through making dance music. Biglaan. Hindi siya planned or organized.
What was your sound like at the start?
Badjao: We used to play in a selfish way because [Zildjian] used to play a lot of solos, and I used to play a lot of solos. I play the drums and I’d put everything in between every space and then Zildjian’s gonna do something crazy with the baseline, Unique sings weird stuff. So we were just playing for ourselves. Then we kinda evolved as one band. Like, “Okay, he’s good at playing this, and he’s good at singing high notes.” And that’s how we kind of jived in to what we are now. Everybody has their own job to do in this type of group. It took a long time for us to adjust.
What do you think of the local music scene now?
Zildjian We were misinterpreted [once] and they thought we said that the local music scene was dead. Actually, it was not dead. It just was not recognized. In 2017, social media was a huge part of the scene. People were starting to appreciate the music. You don’t have to look to other people — you can look to your own countrymen.
What do you mean it’s not recognized?
Zildjian: Not recognized by the youth, I think. We frequently embrace the music scene of the West, or other countries like Korea. Ako naman, napansin ko na dumadami yung interviews for bands. For example — Coke Studio — we didn’t have that five years ago. They are starting to recognize na hindi lang yung mga Eraserheads, Rivermaya, UrbanDub, SpongeCola — hindi lang yun yung band.
Let’s talk about Hey Barbara. What was the process of producing the song and the music video like?
Unique: Nag-iisip lang kami ng mga pangalan noong una. Sa kalagitnaan ng pagsusulat namin, lumabas yung ibig sabihin ng kanta. It’s about feminism. Ang sinusulat namin mga persona ng ibang tao. Kapag kami, nagsusulat kaming dalawa, hindi lumalabas ang tunay na kami. Lumalabas ang ibang tao. Ang ironic kasi feminism siya, pero yinayaya mo yung babae.
How is it a feminist angle?
Zildjian: There’s a line there, “I’m just trying to be one of the boys.” Kasi mayroong patriarchal mindset in society na if you’re a boy, you can call out women by [what] you want to call them. Kahit anong pangalan. Pero women should not be defined by the male’s reference. They should be defined by themselves. We shouldn’t look at women the way men look at women. They have their own identity and they are powerful. Hey Barbara is the mindset of a boy that we should not imitate. Kasi he’s calling out [women], telling them “You’ll be a superstar some day. I’ll get you some wine, maybe you can dance with me.” It’s like catcalling.
What was it like for you guys when you heard the song on the radio for the first time?
Badjao: Kanya-kanya kasi hindi namin ma-timingan.
Blaster: That was our first time na pakinggan ang song namin sa radio. Dati pangarap lang siya, and now it’s being played.
What’s in store for us from IV of Spades?
Zildjian: After this song, another single, then an album. Hopefully. Let’s play some games with social media.
Listen to IV of Spades on Spotify. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @ivofspades.