Music

Meet Eyedress, the Filipino Musician Making Waves in L.A.

The Makati born artist talks about his roots and his latest record.
IMAGE EYEDRESS
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Singer, songwriter, and producer Eyedresswhich is actually a playful Filipino-fied version of his real name Idrisusually spends his days in Los Angeles, California with his lovely family. Having recently welcomed a baby boy with his partner Elvia, he makes it known to the world how much he loves them by proudly posting about them on his Instagram account all the time. “All I do now is just for my family. I feel scared when we're not together,” he says in an exclusive interview with Esquire Philippines.

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Even though his attention nowadays is focused primarily on his family, he still finds the time to do what he loves most music. Born in Makati, Eyedress says that he was exposed to music at a very young age thanks to his dad. He listened to classics from The Beatles, The Smiths, and The Cure, among others, growing up.

“My dad always kind of sold that whole dream to me,” he says. “I remember when I was living in the Philippines, he'd be like ‘you could tour the world.’”

But that young boy in Cembo thought that being a musician was a pipe dream for him. He never imagined that he’d actually fulfill his dad’s dreams and actually tour the world. 

“I couldn't imagine that kind of stuff when he was saying it. But it was always in the back of my head,” he reveals. “I didn't think that was even an option.”

Soon thereafter, Eyedress picked up a guitar for fun and started playing Nirvana. His music taste grew and evolved as he started listening to more niche bands. But like any other person in the Philippines who grew up in the 90s, Eyedress wasn’t immune to the power of Eraserheads. “Yeah, I listened to a lot of Eraserheads,” he reveals.

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By the age of six, Eyedress and his family moved to the U.S. to seek greener pastures as his dad got a job as an animator. He credits Phoenix, Arizona with making him the person he is today because of how tough it was. In fact, he stared at racism eye to eye more than a couple of times. “Phoenix isn't the safest place in the world. I got jumped, I got robbed a couple times,” he recalls.

“I wouldn't get jumped for no reason. It would be for some racist shit. I remember a bunch of white kids stole my bike and then when I confronted them, they all jumped me,” he continues. “They broke a bottle on my back and I passed out. So I had to fend for myself.”

The rough childhood in Phoenix made the man, but California made the musician. Another career move by his dad meant that their family would be packing their bags and moving to the West Coast. Eyedress joined his first band while living in Orange County. He met his first bandmates at a movie theater. 

“They were all wearing tight pants and had colored hair. They were like a punk band. That was my first taste of being in a band just playing in living rooms. I played a backyard show and a living room. That's where I started, really.”

Just when life in California was going well, things took another detour as his family decided to uproot once again and move back to the motherland. For the first few months, things were going smoothly as Eyedress recalls. He enrolled at a private international school which is a stark contrast to his formative years in Makati. “I lived in a slum,” he reveals.

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A couple of years had passed and his family faced financial trouble. They were back to square one. Eyedress remembers having to stop school and just living off of 500 pesos for an entire week. It didn’t matter to him though as long as he was able to go to gigs with his friends. His love for music never wavered even during the hardships as he started his own band called Bee Eyes where they made a name in the underground music scene.

Idris eventually went solo and became Eyedress. “I came up with it. It was just for my Twitter. It was around the time my old band broke up.”

Years of grinding in the music scene finally paid off as he was eventually signed by Lex Records, an independent British record label. Eyedress first started playing in Europe but he recalls having a hard time adjusting because of the cultural divide. “I didn't understand European culture at all,” he says.

He wanted to make bigger waves and saw a future back in the U.S. “For five to ten years, I had to build press to just get a visa. So for years I put in work and got press for all the accolades.” 

Eyedress and his team did all the right steps and everything worked out just fine. Him and his family currently reside in Mulholland Drivewhich is actually the name of his latest album.

A song from his previous record, Let’s Skip To The Wedding, went viral on TikTok, appearing on over one million TikTok videos. Eyedress wanted to capitalize on that by immediately going into the studio to record his fourth album, Mulholland Drive.

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“My song Jealous went viral during the pandemic. So I wanted to follow that up because I worked really hard to gain momentum like that for years. So I felt like I needed to release something just so that it keeps going.”

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What makes this album different from his previous ones? Eyedress says that producing this was easier despite being in lockdown for the most part because of all the help he got from his friends in the industry. The album was built on collaboration which made the process quicker according to him. Artists like King Krule, Dent May, and Paul Cherry make the album a really fun listen, which Eyedress hopes to achieve when other people listen to it. “I just want people to have fun,” he says.

Aside from the quality production and dreamy shoegaze sounds that will make every listener dance or nod their heads at the very least, what makes this record stand out is how earnest it is in its’ proclamation of love, especially in the track Something About You which he dedicates to his girlfriend. “(It’s) for my girlfriend, she's always been my muse.”

Going as far as calling himself a simp, Eyedress’ genuine love for Elvia is a breath of fresh air in an industry that glorifies infidelity. “This is everything I want. All I wanted was to be like my parents. They've been together ever since and that's the kind of love I was longing for,” he explains. 

“If you're like a true lover boy, you won't feel any shame when you call yourself a simp. If you're gonna marry that girl you better be in a vulnerable space for that woman,” he asserts. “The negative thing behind it is just some masculine, macho, machismo, BS. I don't have a problem with being a simp.”

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The young boy who used to play in living rooms is now fulfilling his dad’s dream for himplaying for an international audience. 

“I think he's proud of me. They always do those really embarrassing Facebook posts that a Filipino parent would do,” he jokes. “But I'm more than happy. I'm happy that they're sharing about me.”

Aside from continuously making his parents proud, Eyedress hopes to inspire the next generation of Filipino musicians to keep doing what they love and follow their dreams.

“If a person like me could have this life, then another Filipino kid just like me can have that same life. I want them to know all of this is possible. (It) doesn't matter what color your skin is,” he declares. “I hope Filipinos in general can see this (and think) this is all real and it can happen.”

Now that he’s got his fourth album out of the way, what’s next for Eyedress?

“(I’m) hopefully gonna sign to a major label because that's the next step I guess for every musician? Yeah, we'll see."

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MJ Pagaduan
MJ Pagaduan is the Content Producer of Esquire Philippines.
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