Art by Rard Almario
Before the internet made a meme out of Kylie Jenner’s Rise and Shine, there was Wag Ka Nang Umiyak by Sugarfree. There are different versions of this on the airwaves — well, blame it on Ang Probinsyano — but nothing beats the hypothetical warm hug the OG version provides when you listen to it. From going to prom with your girlfriend to ridding your room of your ex’s mementos, Sugarfree’s Ebe Dancel writes honest songs about our common experience in love and friendship. They’re so timeless, 20 years has passed ever since he started his career in music and we didn’t even notice. It’s safe to say that, unlike Kylie’s overnight hit, Ebe Dancel and Sugarfree’s songs will stand the test of time.
To celebrate his two decades in the industry, he will be having a concert with the Manila String Machine on Feb. 29, 2020 (yes, a leap day!) at the Metrotent Convention Center in Pasig. We sat down with Ebe before his Oct. 15 show at 12 Monkeys and looked back on his career milestones and all the lessons he has learned from each of them.
Releasing “Sa Wakas” the album
I realized that I could be quite persistent because I had a label before Polyeast, before EMI, and they said, “You know, we can release your album but it might not sell.” The album was two years in the making and then it was on hold for more than a year, but I don’t give up eh, if there’s something that I want to do, I get tunnel vision. It’s all I want to do. It’s all I see.
Shooting the music video for Hari Ng Sablay
To be honest, I wasn’t very fond of the camera kasi parang iniisip ko I’m a musician and I’m not an actor. There were scenes as far back from our music video for Sinta where Quark Henares made me act all day. I said, “Man, I don’t know if I’m any good. I can’t act. I’m not the best-looking dude in town.” Sabi nya, “Just go with it, just have fun.” So I realized that a lot of things come with the job and some things you’re iffy about but I read somewhere that we must be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
“I’ve had highs and lows. I struggled and then I succeeded and then I failed and then I succeeded again. It’s a learning experience getting to know how things work onstage.”
Performing with the Manila Symphony Orchestra
There were things that they were doing that were weird initially but when Chino explained to me that “This is how MSO sounds, and this is how you sound, and it’s going to be (harmonious)…” It cannot be separate. That’s boring as sh*t. But feeling ko, mas lalo pa akong na-e-encourage to work with as many people as I can, people very different from me and it’s a learning experience.