Meet Mark Redito, the L.A.-Based Filipino Who Will Make You Think About the Future of Music

What would the soundtrack of a Sci-Fi movie in the Philippines sound like? Ask Mark Redito.
IMAGE MARK REDITO

Born in the Philippines and now based in LA, Mark Redito is a unique artist that has years of music production experience and a string of monikers under his belt. Through the years, the themes he explores in his music evolve, but the identity felt in his records stays the same.

He came ready for an interview with Esquire Philippines with a pen, paper, and questions of his own. And if anything, that speaks of the kind of musician he is: continuously learning and earnest in his pursuit of inspiration outside of his comfort zone. But of course, we started with our own questions, particularly about the beginnings of his musical journey. 

Redito started young, as a local Church drummer who admittedly played songs a little too loudly. His dad taught him how to play the guitar, bass, and drums, and even influenced his love for The Beatles. Musically, the British Fab Four inspired the way he writes pop songs. As he grew up, he was also swayed by the likes of Up Dharma Down, Raymund Marasigan, and Diego Mapa for their experimental yet approachable music ventures.

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After he moved to the States and studied music production, Redito started making music again in 2012 for what would become his debut studio album Desire, which included his breakthrough song, “Getting To Know You.”

As a Filipino-American in the music industry, he says that there's a sense of connection with other Filipino-Americans, adding that he can easily recognize kababayans in any show he goes to. 

There's a sense of shared context," he says. "Your family is probably the same thing as my family, you know, and I think that's really pronounced when you're living in a country where people don't look like you.”

But along the way, he also encountered instances that made him feel alienated. He didn’t feel represented in the music scene at the time. To him, “the music scene is much more diverse than what's shown on the lineup.” Knowing this, it made sense for him and others like him to claim their own spaces where that diversity can be celebrated. This gave way to LIKIDO in 2016, a community event he organized to spotlight people of color, women, and queer artists and DJs. 

LIKIDO featured the likes of Princess Nokia, Seiho, Neon Bunny, and sold out the 1,400-capacity Globe Theater in LA. Needless to say, it was a step forward in allowing a more inclusive group of musicians to perform for a larger audience that’s eager to listen to their art.

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Three years later, Redito became fascinated with futuristic themes and the lush, tropical memories he had of home. He married the two and asked himself a question: “If the setting of a Sci-Fi film was in the tropics, in the geography that the Philippines is in, what would it look like?” So, his second studio album, Neutropical was born. This is where his penchant for raw and earthy sounds begins to shine through. Sonically, it's found in the imperfections he embraces when producing music. A year later, he dove into the thick of that organic sound with Natural Habitat.

“Nature sometimes feels messy or dirty because you're touching soil. I wanted to convey that through the music, by making it a little raw and scratchy.” 

He mentions that the music isn’t fully high fidelity and a little muffled at times, but it adds texture to what the people hear. To everyone who tuned in to his album, it’s all great music to dance to all the same.

Natural Habitat was also inspired by memories he had from his childhood. He mentions that his mom and his grandmother were avid gardeners, like him now, too. So, he had always been surrounded by living things that grew and needed care. In retrospect, it seems that his music always finds its way back to his roots in different ways.

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“Growing up in the Philippines, in our backyard, we had this huge-ass mango tree. I would just look up at that tree and it felt like there was something there, like a sort of spirit. Or maybe I guess it was my mom or saying there's a spirit there to try and scare me. But then, I wasn't afraid. There's more of a wonder and a reverence for it, so I would touch it. And I would talk to it: ‘Please, please give us mangoes this season.’ And, sure enough, it will very much consistently provide a lot of mangoes for our family. And so that really felt magical.”

In between his stories, he would ask what songs we’ve been listening to, or which Filipino artists he should hit up for a collaboration next. We won’t reveal our answers (in case it potentially could be a spoiler, fingers crossed), but it does reveal another interesting aspect about Redito as a producer: His music evolves with him and his relationships with friends, collaborators, and even his listeners too.

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At the moment, he’s been tinkering with computers and hardware synthesizers, and all the while being his usual plant dad self. And it’s that intersection of two themes that makes us look forward to his next record.

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Patricia Villoria
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