Fraud Police? Watch Out For The Age Police!

Next to the Fraud Police, I have this illogical feeling that the Age Police will soon come knocking.

He wants to drag me to this dimly-lighted cell and lecture me about this seemingly pointless pursuit of the age-old rock & roll dream.

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That I am too old to be doing what I’m doing now, accepting one scant late night gig after another (and another one in a year if I’m lucky), that I should leave it to the young, lean, beautiful ones to make songs about their youthful angst and discontent.

The Age Police taunts me that I am way past my prime, that I should be settling down to a regular job where you don’t have to make up little ditties about how angry you are with the world.

I will just let the lecturing run its course, and then when The Age Police is not looking, I will escape and run off into the wild once more.

I’ll get back to writing these little songs that very few would probably hear, until the next time he finds me hiding in this junkyard.

I’ll be found busy, stringing together rusty wires across a rotting board and fiddling with the bowels of broken toys just to make a sound and write another quickly-forgotten song.

I’ve evaded him for the past 20 years (I’ve had close brushes), but what else can I do? Making songs up has become a hard habit to break.

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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.

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. 🙂

Define Your Own Success, and Fuck The Naysayers

To those who keep telling me to never give up, thank you so much. You don’t know how much that means to me. I will be busy in the next few weeks squeezing in studio time in between taking care of my two asthmatic sons, taking care of an old semi-blind dog, and keeping our household running smoothly. I was told that if I’m lost, all I have to do is retrace my steps. Which is what I am doing now with my music.

Even if I play electronic music now and perform mostly with synthesizers and samplers, I am still a guitarist by orientation. Most of my songs are written as guitar riffs. As part of my step to recovery, I re-stringed my old classical acoustic, which I haven’t touched for a year due to depression and mental exhaustion with my job as a journalist last year. My trusty guitar has never left me, and has been my faithful songwriting companion, and I’m writing new songs with it now.

People I know always ask me why I can’t just be this or that, usually referring to several jobs I’ve held in the past 12 years, saying that I can do those jobs because I’m good at them, whether it’s being a sales executive, a computer technician, an office manager, a technical assistant, a sous chef, and a journalist. I just tell them that while I can do those jobs, my heart is always into music, and I’ll get strange looks as I’m crazy, if not head shakes because they think I made a terrible career choice.

I cannot gig or tour until the baby can walk on his own, and until the EP recording is done, and there is a part of me that felt lost since last year, not to mention that depression and financial difficulties got into the mix. We are now recovering as a family, my wife and our friends are helping me recover from my depression, so I have so much to be thankful for.

Plans are being made to get back on the musical track, and there is so much work to do (promote EP with press conference, do album launch, shoot music videos, make a covers album, enlarge local following, start a crowd-funding campaign, etc.). I need to be organized and my partner/manager is taking over that part of my life so I can focus on being creative and taking care of our kids at the same time. The Philippine music scene is very unpredictable and chaotic, and while not much can be said of its industry infrastructure, and not as established like the US and Europe, there is a musical culture, and people do spend money for music. In fact, Spotify is making a lot of promotions in the country and is establishing its hold since it opened its services to the Philippines last year.

I’m making the best of current limitations, which is what most people do anyway. I have to remind myself that I’ve come far already, and that I am seeing parts of my dreams years ago becoming true.
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Not So Ambient, Dying In Obscurity, and Future Nerds

It’s turning out that what I intended as an ambient music side project is becoming less ambient and more like a slasher B-movie music score. I signed up for the RPM Challenge of coming up with ten tracks before February is over and I’m figuratively running around like a headless chicken.

That’s what I get for being a recovering procrastinator.

I’m currently working on loops from really obscure Latin music and Filipino funk/disco records for this side project called Canfreed. It will be the second album that I’ll do for this alternate moniker, and it’s a good break from the high expectations that has turned into CERUMENTRIC.

The idea is to mangle them beyond recognition that only a pedant familiar with the 1970’s Filipino and Latin music scenes, with an extremely patient ear, and a lot of time in their hands, will recognize which original recordings they came from.

I’ve made sure that the samples are from bands/artists that only made one or two recordings from that era, and whose members are either retired, doing other things besides music, or dead.

In a way, it is my tribute to them, as it is also a personal reminder that it is highly possible that I’ll go their way when I pass away — one of those unsung dreamers that only pops up in nostalgic conversations that can hardly recall at least one song.

It will be discovered by the nerds, outcasts, and the other outsiders of the future, and hopefully, they will build up on my work and make my dreams theirs, and reach millions where I have failed.

Suddenly Clueless Blogger

I have a confession to make. I am Mr. Suddenly Clueless Blogger and I honestly have no idea what exactly to blog about, other than that I am an underpaid songwriter/musician trying very hard to enlarge his audience for the past five years. Other bloggers have advised that ‘honesty is the best policy’, but it only opened up more questions for me. How honest exactly? What should I be honest about that you, as a reader who might be interested in the life of a practically unknown musician living in the Philippines, would want to read and follow up on?

OK, maybe I should treat this entry like an introduction, as if I’m talking in front of a crowd. I engage in public speaking from time to time, something I wasn’t initially inclined to do because I am an introverted person forced to behave like an extrovert because of socio-economic pressures. Here goes:

My name is Erick A. Fabian Sr. I prefer to be called Erick because that was what my mother called me since I was small, even if my full name is Frederick. I don’t feel like a ‘Frederick’, I feel like an ‘Erick’ and that’s what most people call me now. I’m way past my mid-30’s now. It makes me feel old because I got old too early. The responsibility for my younger brothers fell on me at a young age when most kids at 10 years old concerned themselves with school and having friends and video games and robot cartoons. I did not have much of that growing up because my family could not afford a new TV. I watched TV in my grandma’s house, which was the one facing the main road in the old family compound.

I am happily married to a smart, strong, beautiful, and supportive wife and we have two boys. The younger one is currently 8 months old and I am the one staying at home to care for the kids while my wife juggles several consulting jobs. Yes, I’m an enlightened husband who does not care about traditional gender roles and I am not insulted or offended when people call me sensitive. I may look like I can beat up any person my size who pisses me off, but I’m quite a softie. I find it hard to say no when somebody begs for my help, even if I don’t necessarily like that person.

Other things you might consider before engaging me and my art:

1. I am a secular humanist and I am skeptical of religion and supernatural claims. I don’t go out of my way to disagree with people, but the moment they use their religious beliefs to compel me to do things that they find acceptable, then we have a problem. That includes using religious beliefs to influence public policy and law-making. I support a fully secular society that does not give favors to ANY religious group, whether that group is the majority or minority. Public good should be based on a neutral view that includes all members of a society.

2. I am against homophobia, sexism, racism, and any form of unjust prejudice, and I support LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, even if I am a ‘straight ally’.

3, I am very passionate about my music, so you will get to read about my musings and first-hand experiences as a gigging musician and producer.

4. I come from a low-income blue collar background, but because of university, and my earlier predilection for reading, I highly value intellectual discourse but hate flowery language. I love polite language, though, and I would advise people to learn how to speak politely.

5. While I have been aspiring to become a professional musician since I was 13, I wasn’t always active in music. The past 12 years or so were spent doing the following: writing/journalistic work, graphic design, computer tech support, sales supervisor for a defunct cellphone store chain, a Tower Records staff, project manager for a government-owned corporation, fine dining restaurant waiter, recording engineer, producer, event organizer, speaking engagements, etc.

Having taken that out of the way, here’s to more future posts about my life and viewpoints. Thank you very much for reading.

SUNSET DAYDREAM: A Summer Mixtape

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The CERUMENTRIC track “There Goes The Floor” is featured in this summer mixtape by Ian Urrutia of Vandals On The Wall, a music blog featuring quality indie music from the Philippines. Download for free via this link.

SUNSET DAYDREAM: A Summer Mixtape.

Electropunkrock Ride

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For those not yet in the loop, we’ve evolved a bit since 2006. We realized that we should leave the expertise at tinkering with broken electronics to the experienced circuit benders, so we’re not using circuit-bent instruments live anymore, probably except for sampling in the studio. We started to recently put in more cheap vintage analogue synths in the live setup. While we love dance-oriented styles in electronic music, we feel that it is not exactly the direction we can be very productive in or passionate about. You know, different strokes for different folks.

This has always been about a rock’n’roll band that just happens to have mostly synthesizers, drum machines and samplers as its instruments, which just happens to be played by one person in studio, but now there is one guy who plays a lot of the instruments and sings, and a session keyboardist was recruited to make the live sound more dynamic and full. We are not defined just by being ‘electronic’ just as a punk band was never called a ‘guitar’ band. We don’t think in terms of ‘hey, let’s play this-or-that genre!’. The songs were always the focus of everything we’ve done, and that is what we’ll keep delivering.

We are constantly changing, improving and upgrading. Thank you for taking the ride with us until now. There will be more changes in the future, and it is our hope that you’ll be around when it happens, so we have your company to share the experience with.

Lots of love,

Team CERUMENTRIC

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