Behind a Musician’s Craft: an Interview with Diego Mapa

A musician known for his bands Pedicab, Cambio, Monsterbot, and Eggboy, Diego Mapa is a man of his craft. Arranging music and performing live as a DJ, he is also the Operations Manager of ArtisteConnect, a crowd funding website supporting Filipino artists and projects. The latest of his projects, Tarsius, released the first colored vinyl LP in Manila. Diego Mapa discusses his inspirations, his creative process and his visions with Team Manila in this interview.

Tell us a bit of your story, what were your early music inspirations, and what makes you make music?

Nuong Kinder to Grade School marami ako dinaanan na kabaduyan na music pero Beatles talaga yung una ko na solid na gustuhan na banda. Dahil yun nasa cassette collection ng parents ko yun. Mahilig sila sa music that’s why I got into music. Guitar first instrument ko, I picked it up when I was 11. The acoustic guitar was always lying down the house and only picked it up when I was 11. Okay, second wave ng music that really hit me (Grade 6-1st year high school) was when Guns N’ Roses came, Metallica, then Nirvana, then I worked my research from their Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, Helmet, Beck to back tracking to The Cure, Depeche Mode. Until now yun ang process ko in research always one foot in what is new, and one foot in the old, classics etc. What makes me make music? Yan – new discoveries ng music, parang ganda ng riff na yun or tunog nun, gawa nga ako version ko. Lyrics, inspirations are deep feelings or mostly stories of friends. Those moments ako napapasabi: “Oh magandang kwento yun or topic for a song!”

In your opinion, what makes great music? Is it more of functionality? Performance quality? How it affects the audience? A mix of all?

Parang sakin, music parang involuntary muscle yan, susunod ang taste mo pag gusto mo na siya sa una mo napakinggan. Pag later on nalaman mo na na example Justin Bieber yung track, tapos ayaw mo na bigla, I think you’re lying to yourself. So when I make music for the groups I’m in, important yung honesty and I try not think what other people will think. But of course sometimes you really fall in pondering what other people will think. So, ok lang yun, ha-ha. Pero never ako nag isip ah, sa process ng making of music na: “Okay, dito pag dumating sa bagsakan na ito, tatalon ako pag tumutogtog ng live.” Ha-ha. Yun totoo yan.

Share us a bit about your bands and current projects, and how you manage handling them.

Current projects Tarsius and Pedicab are working on tracks for RockEd’s tribute to Andres Bonifacio called “Supremo”. Monsterbot and Cambio, we still occasionally play live. Tarsius will be part of a new vinyl comp this September, but I still can’t say what it is. Tarsius also will be part of another international comp that will come out this November and also can’t disclose that yet, baka kasi ma-udlot haha.

What is the vision behind the “Tarsius” project? How does it take music to the next level of development and art?

Tarsius project, well dati ko pa dream maging electronic artist, at ngayon na marami na available controllers and samplers, natutupad ko na siya. Ayoko naman sabihin na art kami o uma-art dito pero indeed no rules in terms of making music kami dito ni Jay. Kumbaga, usapan naming: “Okay lang walang chorus, ok lang na malabo yung ending, malabo ang groove basta masarap ang pakiramdam, parang ganun Pwedeng may vocals, pwedeng hindi.”

What are the top three best film scores of your choice?

Top film scores sa lahat? Pwede nalang soundtrack? Mas ganun ata ako mag operate, kasi pag film score pwede yun Star Wars, God Father, 2001: Space Odyssey. Pero kung OST na pwede pakinggan everyday: Singles OST, Lost in Translation, Judgement Night OST, Laht ng John Hughes OSTs, and anything that Brian Reitzell made; Marie Antoinette, Virgin Suicides, etc. Hipster ba? Ha-ha

With the growing crowd in the music industry, how do you set your craft apart?

What separates me in the industry? I’m proud to say I’m proud of all the bands I’m involved in: Monsterbot, Pedicab, Cambio, Eggboy, Tarsius, Dayuhan. Makikita mo ang mga foreign influences pero I’m proud to say nothing quite sounds like them at least in the Philippines. Each group may nakikita ako originality. But I like to believe, not as a whole but musically sometimes we thread into a direction that has never been explored before.

What is your dream vision and project for the local music industry?

Vision for the industry, sana ma recognize yung music natin internationally parang J-pop or Japanese, Brazilian music, Afro funk. Sana may ganun tayo. Parang ganun din siguro yung term na OPM, pero parang may mas magandang term di ba? Ha-ha, Team Manila imbento kayo ng term? Kasi parang ang sarap pakinggan yung terms na Pinoy funk, Pinoy disco, Manila sound. Ayan sana ganyan. Mas gusto ko yung mga ganyan.
Any last words for up and coming artists out there?
Just keep playing, don’t worry about who is watching or listening. Create and create, be original. Help your fellow artists. Don’t be a hater. Good vibes lang :)

Check out Diego Mapa’s official studio, Twitter and Tumblr. Get to hear the latest from his bands: Pedicab, Tarsius, Cambio, Monsterbot, Dayuhan, and The Diegos. Tarsius and Eggboy can also be found at Bandcamp.

photo credits to:
Jeck Manliquez
Brendan Goco
Paul Javier

Categories Music, Style