CERUMENTRIC is now 9 Years old, and I forgot all about it

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As my wife knows about me, I have a terrible sense of time. I’ve been so busy editing the new song, making some art, and doing an outline of my next write-up, alongside preparing meals and making sure the kids don’t get into any trouble, that I forgot yesterday’s significance:

September 26, 2015 is the ninth year since I took a few drumloops, cut samples using the free audio editor Audacity, decided to make electronic music and call this bedroom act CERUMENTRIC to deal with a painful tinnitus that lasted for two months. I was never expecting anything except to amuse a few friends and entertain my wife and son. Two full lengths and a some EP’s and singles later, I did not anticipate it getting nominated for awards, getting positive reviews, or performing alongside some of Manila’s best indie musicians. We even did self-financed mini-tours across and outside the Metro. It was a lot of fun being on the road.

To be honest with you, there are times when I wish I could just throw in the towel, call it a day, and make my life less complicated. Not that I’ve stopped finding joy in making music under this moniker, but it has its own blessings and curses.

I will reiterate: Off-kilter experimental synthpunk songs with English lyrics about existential dilemmas are not supposed to come from a stocky ‪#‎Filipino‬ stay-at-home freelancing artist dad from the southern outskirts of ‪#‎Manila‬. If it doesn’t follow the ‪#‎OPM‬ blandplate and there are no ‪#‎hugot‬ romantic lyrics about young love or nationalistic ‪#‎Tagalog‬ lyrics set to a danceable beat, then it doesn’t and shouldn’t exist because it will be ‪#‎burgis‬ and ‪#‎sosyal‬ and ‪#‎antiFilipino‬ and doesn’t contribute to ‪#‎FilipinoCulture‬. Your music career in the ‪#‎Philippines‬ is practically screwed unless you have external funding. As the pedestrian creature would tell us, “Walang mass-appeal ‘yan!” (That doesn’t have mass appeal!)

But I’m not doing this for money. I earn a living as a freelance writer and graphic artist. There are easier ways to make money. I’m doing this because it gives me meaning. There are still tons of musical ideas in my head that I haven’t tried. My gear is still slowly falling apart, but we’ve managed to get this far with this makeshift musical contraption despite the odds.

Perhaps I’ll quit next year on CERUMENTRIC’s 10th anniversary. Just maybe, I’ll change my mind again, like I do every other year, because something comes up and another strange circumstance grabs me by the collar and shakes me, telling me to stop being a fool. But I’ve been on this fool’s errand to a musical rabbit hole for years now, and I’ve somehow gotten used to this, that I just can’t imagine life without it. Thank you for reading, thank you for listening to the music, thank you for believing, thank you for riding along with the changes, and you know who you are because there’s not a lot of you, really.

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Back With A Vengeance (A Momentary Break More Like) And Some Reflections

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Photo by Brucher Owens of GYHTS

So here I am, last June 6th, 2015. I took a very short break from fatherhood to play in a musician friend’s birthday gig.

It was great to be back, and it was more than exhilarating to see old and new friends and acquaintances. It seemed like it was only yesterday when we were all in our twenties, with big ideas on how to make our small part of the world more creative, more free, more to our liking. Suddenly a lot of us are venturing into more ‘mature’ pursuits. It’s a good reason to celebrate life and its momentary pleasures.

I’m done recording my vocal parts and doing the basic arrangements for the new album, but now here comes the blood-and-guts part: post-production and editing. The extended Manila summer isn’t helping much, and I’m covered in heat rashes daily. As I keep telling my wife, I may be as strong as an ox, but I’m a bunch of allergies waiting to happen anytime.

After hurdling previous tests of patience, here comes a new challenge: dealing with the complex emotions of a 12-year-old son and the explosive temper of a 1-year-old toddler. Good luck, says the career-minded, supportive and patient wife who leaves early every weekday morning to travel to work.

Each day is a reminder about how to appreciate what one has, despite the existential discontent and the temptation to give in to envy and resentment. I’m reminded that I should be thankful to live in a country where I can speak freely and do subversive art without being arrested (to some extent), but I also feel arrested by the fact that it is a country that can do so much more but wouldn’t, a country of complacency, where manicured mansions coexist with shanties within meters of each other, where the ‘have’s’ pass by the ‘have not’s’ with no bother in the world.

That environment, combined with the constant humidity, pollution, horrible traffic jams, commonplace crime, and sleeper subdivisions on the verge of becoming barbaric ghettos, contribute to the art and the music. It’s a world of extremes, both the stunning countryside beauty and the debilitating poverty, that I draw inspiration from.

Having said that, it’s a bitch re-learning Ableton Live after relying for more than five years on hardware samplers. My Roland SP808’s zip drive has breathed its last. Nevertheless, I am back, with a vengeance, with scores to settle, a new musical direction, and plans to make more art than I can possibly handle.

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There is a tiny part of me that wishes to relegate what I love to do to being a mere hobby, to make my life easier and less complicated, but I never really saw it as a hobby. It has always been a personal mission.

I make electronic music to make people nervous, as each snippet of melody is always threatening to explode any moment, volatile, potentially dislikable, especially when the local music scene teems with trendy/hip types who have embraced the irony like a badge of honor. It won’t make for more fans, but I’d rather be honest at this point in my life, even if it means offending sensibilities.

At best, I’m trying to exercise mindfulness, to savor each moment, to appreciate every effort by anyone who give their time to engage me in lovely conversations, and to those who take me as I am, a mass of contradictions, angry onstage but calm and awkward offstage. Thank you for bearing up with me and having me for drinks and company. You know who you are and I really appreciate your effort at going out of your way.

If you’re reading this far, thank you, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. I’ve been doing this since September 2006, and I have no regrets. The quarter-life crisis just makes me hell-bent in doing more to fuck up the status quo in my part of the world. There’s no more looking back, and it’s time to trudge on, mistakes and all, because I’ve survived the worst of times.

(Special thanks to Nono of Names Are For Tombstones for the awesome birthday gig, Glenn Dilanco for the video, Claire for seeing the show and giving me a ride home, and all the friends and bands who made this an enjoyable show. You all rock.)

New single “Hypocrites” Out Now (and new poetry collab EP on the works)

Posting here has been few and far between lately as I am still having a Lent holiday hangover, even if what the family mostly did was have a short stay-cation. A college friend stayed with us for two days and it was a refreshing experience. Keats, as we call him, is a sign language teacher and a SPED educator. He is also an accomplished chorister and poet. We have been discussing collaborating on a musical spoken word project for several years, and it was decided that we might as well spend studio time and record him reading his poetry, to which I will compose some music. It will be released as a collaboration EP soon. You can read Keat’s poetry here: http://ravinglunaticverses.blogspot.com/

On the other hand, the new single, “Hypocrites” is out now on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify, and Deezer for non-US users. Hope you all enjoy the music as much as I enjoyed working on it. 🙂

You can download the song for free by typing zero, but if you like the song very much, please consider paying for it in any amount. It will help me keep the domain for another year and maintain my site without having to rely too much on my limited personal expenses. Your kindness will help me keep making music, and the more support I get, the more music I can make. Let’s make it happen, fellow noiseninjas! (^_^)

Working On New Songs & Covers (Plus Free Demo Track)

So sorry to everyone reading this, I realize haven’t posted in weeks. I’m working on some new material for my upcoming EP, “Scheme Of Consciousness”, and I’ve done vocals for three songs so far. I’m also working on a cover song by a fave Japanese pop-rock band. Shuffling all these with being a full-time dad and husband can seem like a daunting task, but I’m not complaining. I get to be with my family everyday and do what I like while running our freelancing business.

Confession: I didn’t make the RPM Challenge 2015 deadline, which is the end of February. But I did finish an ambient/glitch/experimental EP for my side project Canfreed, with the album cover photo shot by the lovely Ayla Marie Martin from the UK-by-way-of-the-US.

Both the new single by CERUMENTRIC, “Hypocrites” and the new EP by Canfreed, “Metropolis Of The Lost” will be out on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, Deezer, and Soundcloud soon. Keep posted. 🙂

For the meantime, here’s the demo version of “Hypocrites” for free download: https://www.sendspace.com/file/kq2b5m 

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If you’re interested in knowing more about what I do in between the music, I’m on Facebook: http://facebook.com/cerumentric

I’m also on Twitter, but you probably know that already: http://twitter.com/CERUMENTRIC

I’d be stoked to hear greets from you. It’ll make my day. 🙂

Goodbye Cynics: Song Lyrics and Story Behind The Song

Goodbye Cynics
(words and music by Erick A. Fabian, Sr.)

Everything about what’s wrong with the world
Is everything that’s wrong with everyone
I am no exception

I am part of the problem
But don’t believe anyone
Who claims to have the answers

Crush the world
Inside my only hope

Shatter every misconception
By ignoring them
Keep on doing what works for you

Opinions are for the lazy
Who can afford to do nothing
Eloquent debates won’t change the world

But kindness will

(Copyright 2014 TicTiger! Productions)

This song was written in late 2013, right when I was finishing the last few legs of our series of gigs that lasted for three years. As with most songwriters, I write from what I feel more than what I think. At that moment, there was this feeling that I have spread myself too thin. After a number of performances that earned praise from accolades and new fans alike, I started feeling exhausted from gigging, going from one town to another by bus, hauling a suitcase full of instruments, and getting deadbeat gigs from asshole organizers and promoters.

I also had to deal with the frustration I felt with people in the social activism scene who spent most of their time arguing and debating over seemingly petty matters that are not part of why we were involved in social activism in the first place. I began to miss the activist punks of my time who, with very little planning and deliberation, can still set up successful events and activities that get to the point of what we were all about as promoters of social justice and human rights in the Philippines.

On my part, I’m also experimenting with the direction of my music. I feel like I have pushed the synthpop-meets-punk sound to the limit of my abilities as a musician, and I want to try unfamiliar ground. Or at least, I want to take something familiar and push it into unexpected places. We’ll see where the music will take us. I hope you’ll be interested enough to see it through with me.