Squid 9's Raimund Marasigan and Shinji Tanaka Chat About their New Album, 'Circuit Shorts'
The mood is light as Squid9 plays an impromptu set on the second day of DigiCon 2018. The trio of Raimund Marasigan, Shinji Tanaka, and Daren Lim craft a sound that can only be best described in terms of its influences: cues from dance punk acts like LCD Soundsystem, or samples that remind you of Nujabes, among so many others.
You can’t call these guys newcomers. Raimund is always busy, whether it’s with Sandwich, or Pedicab, or the Assembly Generals, or his thousand other projects. Shinji remains the sound engineer you want when you’re working on a track; a title he claims after having worked with acts like The Dawn, Imago, and Noel Cabangon. Daren busies himself with For You Insidious when he’s not the General Manager of D&D Guitars.
We caught up with Raims and Shinj (Daren was out of the country) right after they finished a 40-minute set filled with songs from their latest album, Circuit Shorts.
Q: So, you guys recently released something new. Is it an album or an EP?
RAIMUND MARASIGAN: Well, it’s eight songs, so I guess album siya. Next week nasa Spotify na ‘to. Minamaximize muna namin yung mga cassettes. Sa cassette namin rinelease e.
Q: The thing about Circuit Shorts is that it samples a lot of Japanese. I know it becomes quite personal because of the nature of sampling, but how do you think that translates to other people?
SHINJI TANAKA: Yeah. Marami. Japanese songs, voices; father ko, friends ko. Mga kakilala ko, halo halo siya. May mga random rin na Japanese lang. Pero ok lang naman yun. Wala naman yun; kahit si Raims hindi naiintindihan yung samples. Iba iba naman meaning ng kanta.
Q: How do you feel about the way Squid 9 is referred to as a ‘gimmick’?
RM: It’s not a gimmick. It has to be all in. Whether it's new equipment, technology, or new ways to record it, it's not a gimmick. It's not easy; it's trial and error and error and error and error, but it's definitely not a gimmick, it's what we like to do. Even yung releasing. It's a way of presenting itself. Puwede namang digital lang e, pero we do it ourselves. We don't have anybody backing us up, just friends. If somebody can get the cassettes for us we'll get it. We'll pay for it, we'll do it ourselves, parang in the spirit of punk rock pa rin.
Q: So in a way the presentation is part of the music.
RM: Oo, kasama ‘yan e. We’re pushing the limits of what you can do in today's market. May throwback from the past and may futuristic; balanse lang. Kasi kung gimmick hindi ko na gagawin, magastos e.
Q: Let’s bring the discussion to digital. How did digitalization change the music industry, especially when it comes to promotion?
RM: Nagbago lahat. Pinapangarap lang namin ‘to lahat na you can make music in your own environment, in your own room, then release it on the same date if you like, and then promote it in your own terms. Bahala ka. ‘Yung unang unang release ng ‘Heads nung college were cassettes. Rinecord namin sa Faculty Center, sa nasirang Faculty Center ng UP, with Robin Rivera. Before Ultra[electromagnetic Pop], a, ‘yung Pop U. We had 20 copies of Pop U, and then we sold it to friends. Phinotocopy lang ng friends namin yung album cover and then that became Ultra, half of the songs there. But we needed a record company to release a bigger record. These days you can really do it all by yourself because of technology. You record the music, you mix it, you master it, you make a video, you shoot a video, you edit a video, you release it on your YouTube channel, on Instagram, on Twitter, on Facebook, and all the platforms.
Q: How about finding venues?
RM: Mas maraming venues. It’s not about finding venues, but finding shows. I've always talked about this: if you want to play shows, you have to be out in the shows. You have to be in the scene you're supporting. For example, if you're in a metal band, you have to be in the metal scene. Hindi ka pupuntahan ng metal promoters kung nasa bahay ka lang. Or if you're in an indie band like us, you’ve got to be in the indie shows, or they won't see you. If you don't support them, why would they support you? If you're supporting the scene, the scene will support you. It doesn't have to be just talent. Marami namang talented, hindi nauubusan ng talent. But going out, supporting, and helping out other bands and artists—that's what gets you into shows, I think. I could be wrong, but that's what helped us all along. From people we played for in the little clubs and now we're playing a corporate show.
Q: Last question: any message for any upcoming artists out there?
RM: Put in the work.
ST: Basta ‘yung gusto ko, yung style namin: gawin mo yung gusto mo. Huwag magpadala sa uso. Makinig ng maraming music para laging bago. Basta with passion, dapat hindi mawawala yun.
Squid9’s latest album, Circuit Shorts, dropped on September 27. Cassettes are available at Satchmi, while the album will be on Spotify on October 12.