MANILA, Philippines — Zild Benitez has made it loud and clear that he “can’t and won’t stop” making music.
Not the pandemic, nor the fast-evolving musical landscape and certainly not the surprise hiatus of his band IV of Spades could keep the 23-year-old singer-songwriter from getting creative and productive.
In 2020, he made his debut as a solo artist in Homework Machine. This year, specifically on April 8, he’s releasing a new album titled Huminga under OPM icon Rico Blanco’s Balcony Entertainment music label and management group.
In an exclusive interview with The STAR, Zild admitted that though the pandemic came as a shocker that left him doing nothing for a couple of months, he had to resume songwriting to “survive”.
Music, he stressed, has always been his refuge, therapy or source of inspiration to keep going.
“Nung una nakakagulat siya pero kelangan ko kasing mag-survive. Wala naman akong ginagawang iba sa bahay. Ito lang. Sobrang dami kong idle time. Baka mabiliw ako if di ko siya ginamit… nagkaroon din ng month na di ako gumalaw, mga April, March 2020. Pero biglang kelangan kong mag-survive at makagawa ng kung ano-ano. But ever since naman, ‘pag feeling ko di ko kilala yung sarili ko, sa music agad yung tinatakbuhan ko.”
According to Zild, his new album showcases a new songwriting style. His approach is in stark contrast with his last album. In Homework Machine, he was after the novelty of the sound and “hiding in the characters and lyrics” of his songs because by his own admission he was afraid of letting listeners know what he was going through. In his new album, he’s become braver and more honest in telling his stories.
“I’ve gained the courage to tackle things I’ve experienced personally. To be more specific. Well, nagtatago pa rin naman siya sa figures of speech but mas nakukuwento ko na siya ng rekta (direct) ngayon,” he explained.
“Ngayon parang, sige nga, minsan lang mabuhay, kuwento ko na ng specific yung mga naranasan ko. I no longer hide myself in a character. It’s more of who I really am,” he added.
That’s exemplified in his first release Kyusi, which he described as a teenage love song inspired from an actual incident in his life.
He said, “It all started with the first line, ‘Sasamahan ka sa Kyusi (QC)’. Ayun nag-trigger na sa akin yun. Sige nga, tuloy ko yung concept. Totoong naranasan ko talaga.”
He further described the song’s theme: “It’s simpler. Hindi siya yung ‘masakit,’ hindi siya yung parang nakakadurog. (It’s about) paano ba natin na-experience yung love nung nagsisimula pa lang? It’s all about the simplicity and the innocence of love, rather than the grandiose theme of love.”
At that time The STAR talked with Zild, he was already able to come up with 11 songs for his album.
He started writing Huminga right after Homework Machine, October of last year, which he made entirely by himself. “Naumay ako. Nagsawa rin ako mag-isa. So for this one, I decided to get a co-producer. Then if may nagagawa kaming kanta, pina-pa check namin kay Rico.”
For him, the most positive aspect of having a label is that there’s another listening ear who can give expert opinion on every finished song.
He recalled meeting Rico at a concert with his band IV of Spades. He decided to join Balcony because he finds the OPM hitmaker’s team easy to work with and he fully trusts them.
Asked about the extent of Rico’s influence on his music, Zild said, “Pinaka-influence yung mga logistics, marketing, financial budgeting, things that I don’t think about. I have more time to just focus on my art, rather than think of the external, affiliated stuff.”
He recalled the best advice Rico gave him: “Pinaka-OK sa akin, yung mga kwentuhan (his advice) na ‘wag kang matakot maging totoo. Yun lang. Basically management talaga yung Balcony. Rico lets me be myself pa rin.”
Zild likened going solo to returning to his high school life — a time when he was still not part of any band and he could write about anything he wanted.
“But the advantage of being in a band is that you have three minds contributing to the music. It’s more about being a unit.”
Zild confirmed that IV of Spades is just taking a break — not breaking up.
“Basta wala kaming plano gumawa ng kahit ano. Nag-fo-focus kami sa sarili naming tatlo,” he said.
Meanwhile, besides teenage love, he will be tackling such themes as loss of friendships, mid-age crisis at 23, isolation, among others in his upcoming album.
After last month’s Kyusi, Zild has since released Apat, a song about growing up, and Bungantulog about realizing dreams.
The overall sound is also different and he feels it is directly connected to how he’s feeling nowadays. “Because Homework Machine, it was electronic, computer… ngayon naman tunog bukid, puro organic instrument.
“May nagsabi na kaibigan ko, ‘psychedelic bukid.’ Siguro nagsawa ako sa electronic at the same time, matagal ko ng gusto gumawa ng parang ganun yung feeling, like you’re being brought outdoors? Feeling ko, baka gusto ko ng lumabas, pero di ako makalabas haha.”
Zild reflected that maybe it’s also because he misses going on tours and performing before a live audience.
Asked how he tries to satisfy that longing to play and be with the music-loving crowds, he said, “Search ako sa YouTube ng clapping people, joke!”
He just tries to stay connected with followers through social media at least for now. “Wala eh, tiis-tiis. Siguro sa Twitter, Instagram, makausap ko lang sila saglit, masaya na yun.”
Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com