The Filipino indie scene is rich, vibrant, and filled with artists brimming with talent. Taking advantage of the power of the internet through platforms like SoundCloud, Bandcamp, and Spotify, many artists have started to make a name for themselves both in the Philippines and internationally. Here are five of my favorite Filipino indie songs to put you on the scene:
Late night drives, neon lights, deserted and lonely streets: these are the images that listening to “She” brings to mind. The same can be said about much of One Click Straight’s discography. The Manila-based band is enamored with dreamy and romantic landscapes, and their songs are reminiscent of 1980s rock and teenage angst typically associated with it. Like many teenage romances, “She” begins with a loud flourish, layering smooth guitar riffs and well-placed basslines with distant-sounding percussion before slowing down and honing in on the details. Like many teenage romances, the ending feels like it comes too soon. “She” is a song that demands replays, especially during late night drives.
Remember how your first love felt? If you don’t or didn’t have one, “Seventeen” is a song that’ll fill in all the blanks for you. Sung by Manila native no rome, who recently signed onto Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Song’s label, “Seventeen” is a heartbreakingly sweet alternative R&B track lined with nostalgia and regret. On the track, no rome reminisces on a first love and on how easy love felt at seventeen. Accentuated by gentle synths and sweet electric piano interjections, it’s a soft and intimate song perfect for either early mornings or late nights.
“Come and waste my time / Keep me on the line / We could be alright,” BP Venezuela croons over a groovy electronic beat and dreamy imagery on “bbgirl.” A triple threat — she’s a singer-songwriter, producer, and director — BP Venezuela crafts electronic pop songs that tackle topics like love, alienation, restlessness, and more. “bbgirl” in particular is a take on queer love between people of color that, refreshingly, isn’t defined by expectations and fears of societal norms. It’s a song to sway to, vibe to, fall in love to, to text your crush to: a song to do all of the above to and feel completely casual about.
Despite the sense of childish excitement that their name evokes, Cebu-based band Hey! It’s Your Birthday specializes in sleepy and melancholy indie pop songs. Blending together electronic piano, warped melodies, and vocals that come in the form of a sluggish drawl, “Hey Buddy” sounds exactly like the type of song you’d listen to on lethargic Saturday mornings. The song is the perfect mix of dreamy, gentle, and melancholic, blending these qualities to culminate in a work that leaves the listener aching to hear more. If you’re a fan of Mac Demarco or Triathlon, you’ll love Hey! It’s Your Birthday.
Rusty Machines is an alternative rock band from Manila that makes songs for teenage dreamers. The band is inspired by acts like The Strokes, Last Dinosaurs, and Young the Giant. Coupling those influences with the unpolished quality of an indie band, Rusty Machines give off an earnest charm that makes them hard not to like. The music video for “Forget You” is filled with strange angles, low quality footage, and awkwardly placed text, but this only serves to make the band and song seem more authentic and genuine. “Forget You” is a song for driving down the coast, going to the beach at night, and rolling down all your car windows on the freeway. It’s a song that begs the listener to go out and make memories to it, and there’s almost nothing more compelling that music can accomplish.