Unique is wearing a black, long-sleeved pullover and a newsboy cap, which he tosses to one side when it’s time to pose for the camera. At first, he seems eager to talk, but in actual conversation, he is soft-spoken; his words thoughtful and measured.
CONTINUE READING BELOW
“This feels awkward,” he says. He isn't comfortable with this part of being a celebrity—the interviews and the dealing-with-the-press. “
Hindi ako sanay sa mga tao. Hindi rin ako sanay makipag-usap."
But he's had a few years with IV of Spades to acclimatize to the fame—surely he knows the drill by now? “
Hindi pa rin talaga ako nasasanay,” he says. “ Marunong naman pero hindi ko maiwasang hindi... Kinakabahan ako.”
To put him at ease, we talk about his childhood, which, when you think about it, really isn't very long ago. Unique is his given name, and he grew up around music. His parents exposed him to The Beatles early on, and like millions of others, he found himself jamming to songs like “Twist and Shout” and “And I Love Her”, as early as six years old.
Isang beses pinakinig sa 'kin ng tatay ko 'yung Beatles,” he says. “ Paulit-ulit ko na siyang pinapakinggan. Tapos tumatawa ako mag-isa sa kwarto kasi tuwang-tuwa ako. Tapos ayun na.”
Later, Unique would join forces with three other musicians to unleash a brand of '60s and '70s-tinged pop music to an entirely new generation of music fans. They called themselves IV of Spades, and by now, their saga is well-documented.
What’s less clear are the circumstances behind Unique's abrupt decision to leave the band last May. I knew better than
to ask. He obviously has his reasons. But he does, for a while, look back at those days. “ Masaya kasi nagka-panahon ako na makasama sila. Naging parte ako ng Spades kahit papaano. Tapos ngayon, mas nagagawa ko 'yung gusto ko."
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Your Grandmother's Music
Barely three months after calling it quits, Unique came out with
Grandma. Some may say it was too soon, but he couldn't help that he had a ton of material pre-written and ready to go.
Akala nila mabilis 'yung proseso, pero siguro mga nasa 30 percent ng album, dati pang kanta,” he says.
The remaining 70 percent of
Grandma was either easy or difficult, depending on whether or not the gods of inspiration came a-knocking. Some songs were finished in one sitting, while others tested his patience. He had to force himself to complete some songs, while others practically wrote themselves.
Mas madalas ako ( mag-start) sa melody,” he says. That is, with the exception of “Ozone,” a retelling of the horrific disco tragedy of 1996, set to finger-snapping mid-tempo music. “ Sinulat ko talaga siya na istorya, hanggang sa mabawasan siya, naging tula, tapos naging lyrics, tapos nagkaroon siya ng melody.”
While Cipriano co-produced the album with the help of a creative team of engineers and musicians, the Unique himself maintained creative vision. “
Nagbabatuhan kami," he says. "Pero nasa akin 'yung huling decision.”