Ready for the next Century

INDIE YO! is a 38-track sampler featuring spoken-word poetry, new-jazz instrumentals, new-folk tunes, indie-pop songs, & non-sequitur fillers from the next wave of Pinoy pop music. Artists include rock-poetry band Talula Craft, new-folk songstress Lilledeshan Bose, Greyhoundz-meets-Parokya metal-novelty act Sherweenies, the 12XU ska-punkers, that band of letters The Purplechickens, syncopated troubadours Stonefree, the piano-power-pop Ketchup, tanaga-torch-bearer Kris Lacaba, blues poet Edge, the dirty-folk trio Brown Shirt Trinity, guitar-guzzling singer-songwriter Easy Fagela, new age guitarist Jonny Salvador, jazz bassist Derek Ileto, piano deconstructionist Khavn, anime garage band Neotaku, philosophical punk posse Milk Bar, beat poet Vincenz Serrano with the avant-jazz group Out, and the beer-ballad boy-band Big T. Produced by Khavn Dela Cruz, INDIE YO! also features 'Bato-bato Sa Langit', a new apocalyptic hallucinogen from Pinoy rock icon Pepe Smith

Indie Yo! The Next Wave of Pinoy Pop (Underground Label by Avant Music Pop)  Nov. 4, 2000
Album Review of

Snap, Crackle and Pop

Straying into uncharted territories is a tradition in music; it is how evolution takes place, where “Here There Be Dragons” actually shows that the ones who explore are the dragons. Bernie Sim explores the brave new world of Indie Yo! and their new path into musical terra incognita.

The next wave of Pinoy pop music includes spoken word musings about girls and existence, drunk-rock rants about a jeep ride to Quiapo, folk lullabies inspired by too many Tagalog romances, and a cover of Dragonball’s nefarious “Chala-Head-Chala” theme song. This is Indie Yo!

Indie Yo! is the antidote to mass-produced volumes of double-meaning jukebox songs and mind-numbing Regine Velasquez covers. Said producer Khavn de la Cruz, “Malawak nga ang pop kaya napakalabo nga na puros cover lang. Logically thinking dapat mas malawak ang pinapakinggan (nating) uri ng music.”

Although the transition of indie to mainstream pop is helped by the presence of bands like Radioactive Sago Project, Pinwheel, and Ciudad, it’s still a slow start. “What’s important is for this type of music to grow,” stresses Khavn. There is indeed a local music vacuum that screams avant pop, but since the major labels and radio stations miss this (almost) entirely, Khavn and Avant Pop Music decided to take matters into their own hands.

The red-haired piano deconstructionist put together Indie Yo! as a tribute album for the now closed Oracafe. Produced by Avant-Pop Music, the album features 38 eclectic tracks by talents who, at one time or another, strutted their stuff at Oracafe. Indie Yo! also aims to put out music and poetry that major labels deem too risky to produce. “It’s the mix of the avant-garde and pop,” said Khavn, “(music from) the underground (that) we’re projecting to a pop context.”

If you think that Indie Yo!’s brand of music doesn’t sit too well beside your (shameful) collection of boyband albums, think again. Indie Yo!’s Pinoy indie music is easy on the ears. It is definitely pop; whether you lean towards playful Parokya ni Edgar arrangements, jumpy Squirrel Nut Zipper ska beats, or Lilith Fair yodels, Indie Yo! is bound to have something your psyche will get in tune with.

Non sequitur fillers amuse you between tracks, catching you off-guard with four-letter word cheers, counsels from square self-help people, and religious fanatics’ rants. The main course is an earful of some of the best local underground talent around. Personal choice cuts include Kris Lacaba’s dose of poetic comedy in his four-part “Tanaga ng Paghanga” verses, Stonefree’s bittersweet ballad “Baka Naman”, new-folk singer Lille Bose’s angst-love riddled “Last Song Syndrome”, jazz bassist Direk Ileto’s bluesy guitar trip “Wheelchair”, Brown Shirt Trinity’s nervy and melancholic “Aso, Two”, Khavn de la Cruz’ maniacal piano decon/reconstruction of Korn’s “Freak on a Leash”, new-age philosophers Milkbar’s jaunty “Wasakin ang Pader”, and classic guitarist Jonny Salvador’s beautiful lullaby, “Waltz for the Incompatible”.

Other artists on the sampler include rock-poetry band Talula Craft, agents of drunkenness the Sherweenies, ska-punkers 12XU, the jittery Purplechickens, piano-pop group Ketchup, blues poet Edge, singer-songwriter Easy Fagela, anime garage band Neotaku, beat poet Vincenz Serrano, the avant-jazz group Out, and beer balladeers Big T.

Some of these artists seem a lot less polished when having performed live some nights ago at La Piazza, Megamall, where the ice cream is expensive and the Spartan acoustics downright horrible. Despite these troubles, mall performances like these help Indie Yo! get exposure. “I like it here because the people who aren’t supposed to be here can listen,” said Lille Bose of the open space setup. Lille’s songs sound sweet and innocent whether it be the mellow “RumbleBreath Man” or the caustic “This is How It Is”, which takes a humorous bite out of relationships that go sour.

Indie Yo! artists are honest and refreshing at their craft even if they falter due to technicalities or their own shaky nerves. Kris Lacaba exuded much of this artistic sincerity when he said, “Pumalakpak naman kayo kasi mababa ang self-esteem ko eh.” He was rewarded with a big applause afterwards, plus more at the end of his various narrations and poems.

Khavn’s 1st song for the night was a Ben Folds Five-ish song played out on his electric keyboard. It was a simple sentimental set with a couple of Tagalog love songs thrown in. Unfortunately the noisy crowd chatter drowned out his modest set.

Imo Quibilan and Vincenz Serrano of Milkbar started their set with “Dust Boy”, a spoken word narration coupled with Radiohead’s freaky Karma Police. It was an intense and moody performance, lousy acoustics aside. For their last song, they did “Wasakin ang Pader” which talks about breaking the walls of silence. Said Imo, “Kung di ka mag iingay walang makakarining sa iyo.”

Exactly what Indie Yo! plans on doing.


The Indie Yo! sampler is initially available at Tower Records, Radio City, Odyssey, and Music One. Indie Yo! will have regular gigs at La Piazza every Wednesday night. Some of their other venues include Mayrics, Freedom Bar, Cafe Rizal and Bistro. Check out our listings for phone numbers. You can also email for more updates.

About The Writer
Bernie Sim, writer and graphic artist, lives in San Juan.