Silverfilter: House, Breaks, Techno and the Sound of Manila

Silverfilter may not be a name you’re familiar with, but he’s been making the rounds in the Philippines for a while now. With multiple releases on his own label Trike Records, Dannish label Subtec Records a small host of others (including MK837), Silverfilter has shown diverse production abilities that can span genres. Lately, he has been working on a series of club events that will kick off in October and is also starting a new and diverse label to help promote more unknown artist in the Manila scene.

Silverfilter took a few moments out of his busy schedule to talk with us about his love of Electronic music, how he got his start and his future plans.

How did you get involved in EDM? Did you follow the typical path of fan to DJ to Producer or was the path more winding?

Honestly I still call it Electronic Music because I really don’t like calling it EDM. Actually what you stated is pretty close. As a fan, I was hoping to share the music with people as a DJ but at that time, it was difficult to just jump in and be one since it was still hardware so getting gear was really expensive. Though I still pushed as much as I could to train myself so I would get connections to local bars or clubs to give me a slot to DJ and that’s where I was able to hone my beatmatching, etc.

What really got my name around was for me, the so-called back door, which is producing. Even before getting into DJing, I was already producing tracks. Then I put up this local collective called Electronica Manila, which was an electronic musician community that helped out fellow producers not just with production but as a support for everyone to get into Live PA. This boosted everything as it had made a name for itself in the music industry since at time, electronic music wasn’t as big, so it was quite special for the audience to see live electronic music then with all hardware synths, drum machines, etc. That helped get my name around and suddenly big events and clubs wanted to book me because I was doing live PA doing dance music. It was just perfect timing really. I couldn’t get into the industry as a DJ but Live PA got me in and helped me put my name out there.

What excited you most about EDM?

The music was great but honestly, it was the production that got me really excited. For me, the fact that I could just sit in front of a computer and finish a track really got me hooked. Coming from a band background where we dealt with individual schedules for recording days, communication, etc. it was a relief to work on a track so differently and faster.

What’s the most important piece in your studio and what makes it so essential?

I would say my DAW, which is Propellerhead’s Reason. I know it like the back of my hand so I can really translate what I’m hearing in my head out into the real world. For me, that’s what’s important over magazine recommendation or website reviews on what the best DAW is. I always say the best is what works best with how you produce because we all have our different methods. At the end of the day, the output is more important than what was used to get to it.

How would you describe the sound of your music?

I would say that I always like to make it sound fun. It’s hard to explain but you know how tunes of artists like Fatboy Slim, Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada have that “fun” feeling to it? Something like that. I try to always make it sounding like a fun, upbeat, “feel good” track.

Who is the one person you would die if you got positive feedback from?

This is a really good question. It’s a toss between Fatboy Slim or Richie Hawtin

Rumor has it that you’re about to start a series of events called Nod. Sway. Jump. What’s the back story on these events?

Well as I’ve been getting back into DJing since live acts aren’t as in demand locally with most clubs looking for the next commercial DJ, I just decided to also focus on DJing and get into the few venues that pride themselves in bringing something different musically to their patrons. I partnered with a friend and we’re targeting 4 venues to have a once a week thing just to keep things consistent. This allows us to handle our nights and of course, not wait for people to book us. We just chose a more proactive approach.

I came up with the name which simply gives a visual on what people can expect from how the night shall progress. You know how early in the night you just enjoy the music so you get your head nodding. Later on music picks up and you sway a bit. Of course, when the night’s pumping we can hopefully have the people jumping.

What can we expect and when do they start?

It starts this October. We’re still fixing schedules with other venues but we’re building it slowly but surely.

As far as the sound in Manila is concerned, people can expect something different from what’s played in most clubs. We’re starting it with a Breaks night. It’s a challenge because there is hardly any support or exposure for it but we’re hopeful that being different would work well for us.

Also, how will they differ from the other events in your area?

As I mentioned, we start with the sound doing breaks for one venue. In other venues, we then plan to also do nights where we play more tech house/house/techno and at the same time, ill be bringing out my live set for some nights and venues which would fit and automatically makes it different because we have live sets.

I also want the night to be a platform for starting out DJs so we’re having slots for them to give them a break into the venues that are hard to get into for starters.

In addition to your production and performance work, you’re in the process of launching two small labels, Trike Records and Electronica Manila Records. From our experiences with MK837, running one label is hard enough, but two? What’s the secret to success in running two labels?

I’m aware that it really seems that I’m biting off more than I can chew with two labels but the direction of both is very far from each other and I plan to focus on both too. EM records focuses more on the Electronica Manila community. This means all releases on this label will be from artists within the community only and since EM is a mix of artists doing various genres, we can expect the whole spectrum from IDM, house, electropop, drum and bass, ambient, etc.

With my personal label, Trike, this is where I release most of my own tunes and those artists that I support. Style-wise it is generally a dance label. But since I also do a lot of chillout and downtempo, we can expect to see a few releases in that vein.

I guess for the success of the labels, in Electronica Manila, the whole thing is backed up by the community so there’s immediately a thrust that hopefully can translate to promotion and sales for those to be released there. I’m also running it with a partner to help me out. For Trike, since this is my “baby” label, I really am focused to delivering consistent quality music here that’s why I’ve been trying to maintain 2 releases a month to keep the consistency of the label.

Bottom line I guess is that labels are really there for music. If we consistently release quality music, I’m sure that success isn’t far off.

How do the labels differ in sound and audience?

For Electronica Manila Records, as a label focused on releasing stuff from the Filipino community, we are also targeting much of the local market to show them what we have locally in terms of Electronic music. In terms of sound, as I mentioned. It’s really anything as long as it is electronic music. So automatically, the audience now isn’t just the clubbing public or EM fans. It could be anyone as long as they like the artist.

For Trike Records, being primarily a dance label, we can expect more of dance music fans, clubbers, general electronic music fans really. Hopefully in my other style releases, we can get new fans and listeners in the process.

What’s been your greatest struggle in running the labels?

Since EM is fairly new, I don’t see any struggle so far since to a lot, it is an answer to their prayer to be able to release globally. For Trike, it is more on getting a roster of artists who can consistently release material.

Where do you hope the labels will be in the next couple of years?

For EM, I hope that it can eventually turn into a brand that’s easily associated with Philippine-made electronic music. For Trike, I hope that releases on there could be picked up by bigger name DJs thrusting the label to more listeners worldwide.

I think that just about wraps everything up. Thanks so much for your time. Do you have any last words?

Thank you! I appreciate your interest in what I am currently doing and it is a blessing getting interviewed for this!