I have a love-hate relationship with commercial jingles. In the middle of our weekly talk-radio stint I always dread the part when I need to endure X number of seconds of a jingle or jingles that make up the breaks in between our gab. I know they prop the show up but sometimes the bunch in the studio is on a roll and I hate being interrupted.
Now, I realize that jingles are not meant to be works of poetry or introspection and that its main goal really is to sell by way of being remembered but still — there are times when I hate them. I hate how they invade my tranquil 3am moments of writing and work. In the middle of my waxing something – it worms its way into my brain, 5 to 6 notes intruding my usually clear mind. Then all of a sudden I’m humming. Hmmm hmmm hmm hm hm hm. Then my God, it graduates to, “Li-li-pad na ako, sa-ba-yan mo ako, ang sa-raaap di-to, sa pu-puntahan ko.” Augh and that’s it. It’s stuck there if I leave it be. Damn Raimund Marasigan, I say to myself. Now his voice is looping in my head. Pushing away all logical orders of my pre-thought-of but still unwritten essay.
Sometimes I play the ‘smart consumer’ and consciously think that just for that I am NOT buying Coke today. But I do anyway. Gaaah. I say NO! I am smarter than the jingle writer. I will purchase what I need to purchase because I need it NOT because I remembered the tune. I always say that to myself, being a Media Literacy teacher and all. I am not going to be a patsy, not a victim of these catchy tunes. No way. Sometimes I counter my (what they call) LSS attacks. I think of another jingle all together and sing it out loud just to push away the bite of the initial jingle-invader. No avail. Some of them just stick. So what do I do? I utilize this lazy ass generation’s way of finding things out, I google about the history and impact of product jingles and read and read about them, then I find out how the stuff works. I think to myself – “Man, this is a sung commercial – and it’s selling me something, how stupid.” I haughtily and mistakenly think.
It is ironic that I say this because my life’s work, an NGO called Rock Ed Philippines was formed on the wings of song so to speak. And if there’s one thing the music did—well, it got our ‘target market’ –the too-cool high school kids thinking, poring through lyrics of songs with civic significance then finding a personal significance. Through music we gave them a badge to wear.
It’s a cliché to point out the power of the medium but music DOES inspire and it gets people to participate in something other than themselves, to be part of something. It wasn’t an all together pleasant thing for me to find out that some of my friends, the musicians who work the Rock Ed campus circuit are minions too of this devil called the product jingle. Since I knew that my good friend Raimund – the front guy of Sandwich and drummer of the ex-band called the Eraserheads had a recording scheduled at this place called Liquid Post, I started there. I also know that they were the ones who created that fiercely invasive Coke jingle called, “Ang Sarap Dito.” (obviously, monster LSS – it attacked months after it’s been off-air)
Liquid Post is run by an old friend of mine, Geri Gatchalian-Gil. Geri – it turns out- is the daughter of Ed Gatchalian. I may not know his name but my God, I know his work! He wrote the product songs for Newtex’s “Dalaga ka na, hindi na bata…”was musical director of the significant gag-show, Champoy – and wrote my favorite jingle of all time – Chicletin mo Baby. (Memorize ko yan hanggang ngayon.)
Anyway- I digressed, sorry. So through Geri I found out that the rest of Liquid Post people are also trusted allies of Rock Ed’s war against youth apathy. I barged into their office under the guise of ‘letting traffic wane’ because in Makati that excuse always holds true.
So I decided to dig in a bit deeper and ‘live-google’ these culprits who make my life, well, what it is.
I found out that Liquid Post is a self-declared small music production outfit that “isn’t number one” because that’s not what matters. It’s getting the music right regardless; it’s feeding off the audience, knowing what people want to hear. Their roster bears this out: apart from multi-music-whiz-mind veteran Dan Gil who’s been in the local scene than he cares to remember, there’s newbies like Mikey Amistoso who plays with his band Ciudad recently hailed by three local dailies as the Best International Act among our local bands, playing a successful North American tour including the prestigious CMJ Festival; there’s rising star Wincy Ong who was just named by Preview Magazine as one of the most creative young Filipinos of 2009; and who can forget Jazz Nicolas of popular act Itchyworms and who was hand-picked by all four members of the Eraserheads to be their “fifth member” during their recent reunion concerts.
I also ran into two secret weapons of Liquid Post – Mark McCullie an alumnus of some hotshot London School of Sound (I made that up – the name, not the credential.) and he actually majored in Recording Arts. His audio production skills are extensive, his ear- legendary but he never said a word to me. He just nodded at my direction while I sat in their office taking their photos. The other mystery man is an electronic musician and writer named Noel Nuñez. He didn’t even look at me while I was there. I like them. Uela Basco the lady with the cool voice is part of their administrative team, she coordinates the project flow for everyone – then at night of course, she’s the lead lady of Chillitees and in that arena, she the diva. How fun is that.
As you can tell, these guys have been around, if not in Route 196 or Saguijo playing or doing session work for other artists, they’re at the studio writing and crafting hits or stuff that’ll amuse their friends. Playing their hearts out, their faces a few spittle-inches away from their fans, they know what it’s like to be in the middle of a revolution, even a small one. Because every gig is one, when someone decides to sing to you their take on their world that’s always a courageous act. When the audience sings it back to them, then we have something quite bigger than numbers. And these evil geniuses are always selling me something. Grrrr.
I have this theory that those short tunes form something in us, expands or contracts our musical taste or our buying habits. And though I occasionally hate product jingles, I’m relieved that these fine musicians are the ones creating them. The people at lil’ ol Liquid Post are the foot soldiers of the music scene. They’re in it and they’re making the music of our times.
Just to get back, I think I’ll make them sell something for me sometime soon.