Meet The Funky Bunch: This is One 'Flu' You'd Want to Get
Look for Original Pilipino Music on streaming sites like Spotify and you won’t be disappointed. There’s a wealth of talent out there just waiting for ears to tune in. While that’s a good thing for us listeners, it poses a bit of a challenge for artists to rise up out of the woodwork and stand out.
Good thing for the members of brand new group Flu, they have an edge. The band—composed of Deus Vergel de Dios (vocals), Dieter Bautista (bass), John Rae Rebano (guitars), Luigi Aganinta (guitars), and Randall Enriquez (drums)—is the first signed under fledgling label Funky Records. To be the first of anything is pressure for any artist, but if the boys feel anything like how they sound, they seem to be handling it pretty well.
Officially launched last October 13 along with the label, Flu came out with its first single, “Fine Day,” later that week. It’s a fun, breezy, feel-good song that takes elements from motown, neo-soul, funk and disco. But that proved to be just a taste of what the band has to offer. Today, Flu is debuting its new single called “Get Down.”
We didn’t think it was possible, but the new song is even more snappy, trippy, and, dare we say it, cooler, than the last one.
With a brand new song sure to get them even more notices from music lovers searching for the next new band to obsess over, it seemed like the ideal time to chat with the band and ask about how they got together, how they craft their songs and what else is coming up in the future.
Tell us more about how the band got together. I know it was for a school project, but how did you guys all know each other? Who were the common artists that you listened to and influenced your sound? When did you know that you wanted to become a band and pursue music full time?
Dieter: Randall and I already met around 2014 and usually jammed Red Hot Chili Peppers tunes together. We both knew we had to make our own band someday cause we just glued right away but couldn't get one started til this year.
Randall and John Rae played for Cannon Fields and I subbed in for awhile when one of the members left and that's when I first got to play with John Rae. Then I met Luigi when I backed him up for his recital sometime around 2015-16. He invited me to play for his band Dayaw and that's how I was able to build chemistry with him. But if I remember correctly, we didn't get started (with Dayaw) until around 2017.
But by 2018 I already started writing tunes and started to shift to "feel good" kind of soul music and immediately wanted Randall on it. We also both hated how most people think soul music was just "sexy time" music. At that time, we were both geeking out on the D’Angelo’s Voodoo album so we tried jamming out some tunes from it (drums and bass).
I actually set up a trio jam that time with Luigi to play an original composition (which eventually became the ‘Halftime Show’) but we didn't get to follow it up after since we were all busy with our own things. I knew I wanted a singer too but where the hell do I find a soul singer?
Dayaw had a gig in La Union and Luigi brought Deus along. That's where we first met. And after the gig, we had a drinking session and jammed. I remember playing Al Green and Vulfpeck. When people were falling asleep one by one, I mentioned to Deus about how I've been trying to come up with a Motown/soul band for so long. Later on, I asked if he wanted to be a part of it. He said "G!" and that it was his dream to be a part of a band.
By late 2018, I already had about five to six demos and the band had four members (me, Randall, Deus, Luigi). Then by the first week of January 2019, we scheduled our first jam session. The following week I invited John Rae to join us so we could have two guitars to share parts. He glued in right away and we were able to jam 50 percent of “Fine Day” and eventually finish it the following week. By February, we finished ‘Get Down’ and what became our upcoming third single as well.
This band kind of saved us from giving up on a music career and just making it our hobbies. And by that time, we all knew this was gonna be something bigger than just our thesis.
How did you connect with John (Uy, founder) and Funky Records? What convinced you to sign with them as their first artist?
Luigi: Childhood friends ko sila Issa (Aguas, CMO of Funky Records) at John since grade school. Nabanggit lang sa akin ni John nung nag-uusap kami na balak niyang mag-manage ng banda, tapos sakto gumagawa kami ng bagong project ni Dieter (outside Dayaw) tapos pinarinig ko lang sa kanila yung demos namin tapos dun na nag-align lahat ng plans.
Dieter: We were focused on making the thesis really good so we could either release them and go independent after, or send them as demos to a label. After it was done, Luigi suggested we try to send it to a friend of his and Deus' (John and Issa) as a demo since they've been wanting to manage an artist. During one of their drinking sessions, he low-key played “Fine Day” on speakers until the gang realized it was Deus singing. Then we sent “Get Down” as a follow up. Next thing we knew, we signed contracts with Funky Records and started on recording a full album.
Tell us about your songwriting process in general. How do the songs come together? Does it start with lyrics or a riff, or something else? Does everybody contribute or is there a chief songwriter?
Dieter: All the songs started differently. I come up with the demos but they all had different styles of writing. The earlier tunes were written on bass—the chords and groove. The lyrics came after. Later on, I was able to write on the keyboard so I could hear chords more clearly.
But the idea just starts with me. The rest of the band has such a great talent for jumping in on the feeling and story. We were all aligned with our ideas and emotions for each song so it wasn't difficult to finish them. I'd usually finish half of the song and get the guys into it and finish the second half all together. But I’m really excited when the time comes that we can all sit down and write a tune together.
Tell us about "Get Down." What sound were you going for?
Dieter: We really wanted this song to be smooth. Imagine driving in TPLEX in cruise control during sunset. That's what “Get Down” was supposed to be. But later on we came up with a chorus to contrast the smoothness. It’s a tight grit with gang vocals, almost the complete opposite but it works well. It's what the 70s sound was all about.
What are your live gigs like? What's the type of audience you are playing for?
Dieter: We want to play for audiences that don't care if they want to go dance in the middle on their own even if the whole crowd just wants to sit and stare. We want to make everyone feel like they want to bop and dance to our tunes cause that's the feel-good thing taking over. Most people feel that inside but are just too conservative to let it out. We want a crowd who doesn't hold back on that urge to groove, cause we don't pretend to be anything or anyone during our gigs. No barriers. We play what we feel and that's it. We try to recreate the feeling of not caring when everyone is singing songs during inuman sessions (except without the drunken out-of-tune and off-rhythm parts).
What's the plan for the band? Is a full album in the works??
Luigi: Siguro mga 90 percent na yung progress namin sa recording. Mix and master na lang yung kulang. Hopefully, makapag-release kami bago matapos ang taon.
Dieter: For this week, all we plan to do is recover from an imbalance of sleep and alcohol from our gig at La Union Surfing Break. We achieved a ratio of one hour of sleep = 10 shots over the weekend.
But yes, the plan is to finish the album and have it out when it's ready. It's exciting cause Funky Records is building such a great momentum for us. It's the dream job. All we gotta do is make good music and record it. Then they'll make the rest happen.