LA-based Fil-Am duo CLLLAPS wants to save the world through music

LA-based Fil-Am duo CLLLAPS wants to save the world through music

One of their songs was once rumored to be a new Kanye collab.

Not much has been written about the Filipino-American duo CLLLAPS. Their Instagram page is cryptic, with posts that go against the grain.  

“Instead of cloning ourselves into a template of trends or even trying to create a look that logically matches our sound, we’ve landed in this world of neutrality with CLLLAPS branding: all gray everything, irony of corporate aesthetics & transparency without a layer of gloss,” they say. It’s all a lot to take in — more artful than you’d expect from an electronic music outfit, but that only contributes to the ~mystery~. 

Based in the Bay Area of Los Angeles, CLLLAPS is composed of Justin and Pat who’ve been friends since high school. Both come from visual backgrounds, with Pat in graphic design and Justin in video production. 

 Producer Ryan Hemsworth discovered them while they were in college, and now they’re signed under the DJ’s Secret Songs label (fun fact: YS cover boy No Rome’s earlier songs were released under them). 

We got to know the duo a little more over email, where we asked them about their roots, that Kanye “collab”, and their new single. 


Young STAR: Hi guys! There isn’t much about you guys online, so can you tell us about yourselves? 

Pat: Yeah, I guess we stay off the grid and haven’t done any interviews like this. But, my mom is from Pangasinan and moved to the states in her 20s. My Dad is from Butuan City,  and came to the US when he was a baby. They grew up in pretty big families, a lot of siblings. My mom always mentions how she’s cousins with this popular Filipino singer from the ‘70s, Ric Segreto. She says our music reminds her of him. His stuff slaps. His song Stay is so good. 

Justin: My parents are also both from the Philippines. My mom from Batangas and my dad from Mindoro. My parents came down to the US in the late ‘80s and brought with them a huge network of cousins, aunts, and uncles that have been my support system ever since. Both of our parents raised us in the Bay Area and I believe they definitely kept us in check with the classic Filipino morals of family and love which we incorporate into our music. We’re glad we’re doing an interview with you guys because it totally aligns. I guess we’ve always embraced our parents’ Filipino culture and let it naturally inform us as we navigate through a heavy American cultural hub like LA. We also just recognize the blessing our parents gave us simply by moving here. 


How did you guys get started in music?  

Justin: My family has always been a musical family. My dad and his brothers had a band called the Six Pack where they toured different parts of their city (as he says). As a kid I vividly remember my dad playing Yesterday by The Beatles on the piano all of the time. Growing up, ‘90s Pop, R&B, and hip hop was everything. In high school, I just started getting into production making mixes and songs for my friends.

Pat: I just always sampled records since high school days and loved Dilla and Madlib. I loved obscuring a sample so much to the point you couldn’t tell what the original was. In college, I naively released five songs on my SoundCloud page of like 30 followers, and somehow a dude from the Mixed Management team in LA (shoutout to Mike Washington) hit me up and sort of pushed me to develop more. Justin and I were roommates, and he would give me vocals over my weird beats out of boredom. 10 songs later, we started to take it more seriously.

We read that there were some speculations that your song The World Tonight was a new Kanye collab after you uploaded it on SoundCloud. How do you think that rumor blew up, and what were things like for you guys afterwards? 

Justin: This was right — when we moved to LA and when we released it we had no idea who would see it, but we knew people would ask questions. We both like the internet and it’s idiosyncrasies so we definitely leaned into that idea. Just shows us [that] we have more power as the artist than we think just by utilizing the tools of the age. Things were more or less the same afterwards but we think it made a buzz.

Pat: Just another instance of us hypothetically creating the world that CLLLAPS exists in and sort of using the internet as the medium. But it led to something that we still don’t see the entire scope of. It can be a good case and point to realize the collapse of old methods of doing for new/future artists trying to connect to the world stuck in their bedrooms. But it became this urban-legend-like discussion on the Kanye West forum ‘Kanye to The’, which we took a lot of amusement and fuel from. Call it luck, destiny, a shortcut, or do-it-yourself S.E.O., it is what it is.  


The track was released over three years ago. How has your musical journey been since then? 

Pat: A lot of random interest from other producers and labels, but also a more focused vision for us. We’re just staying to ourselves, getting our sound right, and following intuition. After the internet speculated about us, they then thought we were this artist named Keyon Christ who had produced FML on Kanye’s “Life of Pablo”. We ended up linking with Keyon in real life, tripped out that the three of us had consecutive birthdays (March 19, 20, 21) and realized how crazy our sounds worked together. So we’ve been working on lots with him. But overall, we’re slowly seeing how much Justin and I are outsiders. We never know what to do in studio sessions, don’t know music theory, don’t have the best gear or software, don’t know if we’re mixing our songs properly (I test all of our final mixes in my ’97 Acura CL blasting it loud, windows all the way down, fast down the 405 most the time). But we always have fun. 


Can you tell us the story and process behind Our Way

Justin:  Our Way is about just getting through life. Recognizing that society has a type of spell on you but that you have your own agency as well. The soundtrack to the video game “Mother 1” inspired this feeling.

Pat: Production-wise, I took the vocal demo Justin sent over and started from scratch. I tend to overcomplicate production, not always a bad thing. But with this song, I wanted pretty simple drums off-set with an odd, almost sentient chord progression (if you can even call it a chord progression). But yeah, Justin’s vocals really drove the song. It speaks in a timeless way that touches on things we all think about. We’re not afraid to make hyper-positive music. It’s the music that people may call guilty pleasure, like secretly humming along to a Michelle Branch song, but we just don’t see the duality of corny vs. serious music. 


Are there any artists you’re loving now or any you look up to?

Justin: We love everyone. Seeing artists emerge like Brockhampton, No Rome, Deb Never is inspiring to us. 

Pat:  And Keyon Christ as mentioned. But we ARE inspired by anyone who feels compelled to make music (popular, obscure or those blurring the lines).


What’s next for CLLLAPS? 

Pat: So many songs we just want to release. So many people we still want to work with. We’re trying to shift (POP)ular music in a bigger way and shift ourselves until we can zoom out and it all makes sense.

Justin: Save world through music.



Watch the video for Our Way below, and follow CLLLAPS on Twitter and Instagram. Listen to them on SoundCloud and Spotify.  


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