Caliph8 is a “complete” artist. He is a sound and visual artist, a graphic designer, a video maker and a creator of sound installations. He’s what people may call an eclectic – someone who derives ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.
You are what many people may call an Eclectic – a sound and visual artist whose works include graphic designs, video making, and creating sound installations. Where do you take your inspirations from?
I appreciated a lot of different types of art growing up. My parents are both into art and music, so I got exposed to a lot of that. I’m interested in interweaving different sensibilities and coming up with a new iteration.
Realized Patterns and Splintered Sequences, 2015 Japan’ release
Your music is what can be considered Sound Exploration – you deconstruct, sample and manipulate existing tracks. At what age did you start exploring sounds?
When I was 6 my folks enrolled me in a music program for kids at the UP College of Music, then, around 10, I started to learn to mix and apprentice for a neighbour who’s a DJ. I started to mess around with our tape decks, I would pause tapes and make loops by splicing them and taping them back. I would put stickers on LP grooves to make them lock it and have it loop.
When creating a new song do you have a creative process that you always follow?
I don’t really have a strict process that I follow. Things can slightly vary depending on the idea and the intention that I want to establish.
I do sample a lot, mostly from records, some from field recordings I made or from an existing archive. Once I’ve chosen the sound source I’ll then truncate sounds into notes, phrases or even granular forms. From there, I start to put everything together. I create sequences of these layers of sounds. Some are beat driven compositions most are ambient soundscape pieces.
I mostly use hardware gear: samplers, turntable, synths, tape recorder, home made gear and other sound generating boxes.
I believe that many artists suffer from egocentricity: they want to have their name written in big on flyers, being the headliner of the events…but when it comes to your performances, most of the time you use many pseudonyms. Why is that?
The output is more important for me. I treat the aliases like a footnote that should be able to lead you to an idea. I’ve got many pseudonyms and they’re all going to be used eventually. I don’t care about blowin’ up, but I do care about infecting the system with creations from the sidelines and marginalized.
You just released a new album “Vertical Stack” than also can be purchased in cassette. Why did you decided to release it in cassette in 2018?
I like that the format: it is a bit unstable and how you hear the recordings may vary as its mechanism flutters. I use cassettes in my performances, so I wanted to release my music on tape so I can use them for my work, projects or sound installations.
It does come with a digital download, so the cassette also becomes the tactile form of the release.
This release features Nonplus and myself collaborating on a live sound piece.
Vertical Stacks, 2017 (NINE IRON, Manila)
You are a big fan of movie soundtracks – which composers should everyone listen to?
John Carpenter, Lalo Schifrin, Ennio Morricone, Mark Mothersbaugh, James Cargill, Geof Barrow, Ben Salisbury, Krzysztof Komeda.
You performed in various museums and cultural centers in the Philippines, Asia and also Europe – what is your approach when collaborating with such big institutions such as CCP, Asian Culture Center South Korea etc…and what is their approach towards you? Are you 100 % free with your projects or do they give you limits?
There are slight obstacles involved when working with institutions. There’s always some sort of push and pull in certain points of the process. So far, I’ve had full creative freedom with all my collaborations. I’d do my best not to compromise for sure.
Shot from the video installation Clear As Mud (ACC, 2016)
In 2003 you founded “Subflex” can you tell us more about this project?
I started Subflex as a reaction to the biases of genre specific music venues or clusters of music “scenes” emanating in Manila from the 80s towards the late 90s. I wanted to create a platform where divisions can be blurred and different practioners from different clusters, tribes or music factions with different preferences in sound can co-exist.
Hiphop, Punk, No Wave, Electronica, Noise, New Music, Experimental, Shoegaze, Folk, Metal and other unpopular forms of music are all interweaving in Subflex.
Stillborn Etudes, 2015 released by Australian label Dub Temple Records
For certain countries abroad, the Philippines is seen as just pristine beaches, rice fields and a tourist spot while in reality, the art, music and cultural scene is very big and important. Which artists (from any kind of fields, both past and current) should foreigners look out for to discover in deep the Filipino culture?
Jose Maceda, Roberto Chabet, Angel Pena, Santiago Bose, Eddie Romero, Nonoy Marcelo, Egay Navarro, Max Alvarado, Lucrecia Kasilag, Denisa Reyes, Apeng Daldal, Nonplus, John Sobrepena, Robert Langenegger, Manuel Ocampo, Roxlee, Malek Lopez, Erwin Fajardo, Pow Martinez, Jayson Oliveria, Roger Lopez, Lirio Salvador, Ringo Bunoan, Tad Ermitano, AJ Domingo, Je Bautista, Betrayed, Albert Sy, Jon Romero, Peewee Roldan, Fred Sandoval, Balahibo Band, Odds and Ends, Tame The Tikbalang, Panzerschreck, Labjaxx
What are some records you never get bored of listening to?
Mort Garson, Black Mass Lucifer
The Beatnuts, Intoxicated Demons
The High Llamas, Lollo Rosso
Ettore De Carolis, Avventure Straordinarissime
David Porter, Victim of the Joke?
Peter Ivers Band, Knight of the Blue Communion
Flying Saucer Attack, Distance
Yoyoy Villame, I Shall Return
Pharoah Sanders, Karma
Graham Bond Organization, The Sound of 65
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