Thursday, October 7, 2010

Activate Davao!

A year ago, I organized a gig at the Durian Bar in Davao City entitled "Golden Noises: Explorations on Sound". It featured three musicians whose works traversed the electronic, industrial and experimental. They were circuit bender Erick Calilan aka Ugong from Cavite, noise musician Toshiyuki Seido from Japan, and electronica musician Charles "Chuck" Fournier aka Chroma from Davao.

The gig was borne out of serendipitous web surfing. I was exploring sound art then (although now, I can't remember why I became interested in it), found EXperimentation in Sound Art Tradition's (E.X.I.S.T.) website, clicked its links and landed on Toshiyuki Seido's Multiply site. We struck up conversations in English, then Tagalog on music, Donna Miranda, then I found out he was coming to Davao in August because his wife was Dabawenya. Our talks then rolled on to a possible sound art show in Davao. He was interested to do a collaborative piece with famed contemporary dancer Donna Miranda, who, I told him was also set to come to Mindanao to do dance workshops, around his vacation time in Davao. I was interested to see the fruition of such a collaboration and tried to set it up. Miranda was courteous enough to reply to my Facebook messages, but she was too busy to latch on to the project. Seido was also interested in collaborating with his friend, anthropologist and artist Noel El Farol on the sound art show, but El Farol could not commit because of an important family matter. So Seido and I decided to abandon both ideas and looked for other artists to involve in the project. Seido brought in Erick, an active member of E.X.I.S.T and a friend and collaborator, and I brought in Chuck, whom I connected with in a previous multi-media gig I organized.

Doing Golden Noises was like jumping into deep waters without a life jacket. It's okay if one knows how to swim, but someone like me who barely had experience in organizing events ( I had a record of one before GN) was committing suicide. I fumbled with sponsorships and bore holes through my pockets preparing for the gig. The good thing was, friends came in to help me keep afloat on several event matters. Seido and his wife Gen took care of Erick's board and lodging and part of our transportation to and from the venue. My friend, Michael Balgos devoted his time to fetching Erick from the airport to taking us on trips in the downtown area in his Volks on Erick's last day in Davao and finally, taking him to the airport .for his flight back to Manila. My friend Andi, then a DJ of MIX FM 105.9, promoted the gig by guesting us on her radio show and allowing Seido to demonstrate his improv sound instrument on air. It was one of those rare moments one gets to hear alien sounds on radio (aside from the occasional static). I was also thankful to the station manager, Joey, for being open to it. There was also my friend Lerry, who lent me money when I most needed it. My friend, Mark Limbaga, a man of the lens (cameraman, photographer, cinematographer, etc.), volunteered to video document the event and provided the best live visuals during the event. If not for them, I would have certainly drowned.

Now, more than a year after, I'm working on a bigger project on sound art, the Davao City leg of ACTIVE | DE-ACTIVE An Inventive Music Fest. This is the first traveling inventive music fest in the Philippines which features local and international artists. The artists which will be featured in the Davao City leg are experimental musician Jonjie Ayson, circuit bender Erick Calilan, pipa virtuoso Luo Chao-Yun,  electronica musician Chuck Fournier, free jazz drummer Sabu Toyozumi, and sound and visual assemblage artist Lirio Salvador.

ACTIVE | DE-ACTIVE will feature free workshops and fora on music improvisation and an inventive music show. It aims to "provide a platform for informed discussions of the cultural, developmental and educational aspects of improvisation and experimentation in music, and at the same time, present its artistic and technical practices. The festival is also an attempt to gather a community of experimental musicians, improvisers, new media art practitioners, musicologists, and teachers who can share and exchange knowledge that would benefitthe understanding of improvised and experimental music."

ACTIVE | DE-ACTIVE is Erick's brainchild and I'm glad to support his daredevilish endeavor. For an experimental musician, daring is no longer a dare.but a lifeway. Erick is working on this event, which crosses through three cities--Cavite, Manila, and Davao--while also working on his thesis. I can imagine the stress he is having now, and also his joy in making this festival. Meanwhile, I am juggling four other projects with this event and I'm losing some weight in the process flailing through all..

There are still a lot to be done--more people to send invitations to, tarps and other event paraphernalia to print, and other matters that need attention. I'm stumbling through this, but I know I'm going to pull through.