McJim's 'Get Real' Talk
Symposium series tackles state of OPM
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
Leather label McJim Classics gathered three of the most respected names in the local music industry to talk about the state of Original Pilipino Music (OPM) in its first-ever 'Get Real Talk' series at the Far Eastern University (FEU) auditorium. To share their first-hand knowledge and experiences in the recording arena, McJim invited Jim Paredes of the legendary APO Hiking Society, label manager/producer Jinno Mina, and record-breaking rap artist Gloc9, the voice behind monster hit songs 'Sirena,' 'Lando,' and 'Upuan.'
"OPM has always been evolving for the better. As an artist for 18 years now, I went through analog recording and then the VHS format. It is highly advisable that you hone your talents before joining the industry. In this day of digital revolution, it's who's viral and who sells.
"Every time I write a song, I needed to be compassionate; empathize with others by wearing their shoes, in a manner of speaking. Original means material written from the heart about the Filipino experience.
"The government must first raise the level of life in order for the greater majority to appreciate our music because without the means to buy them, they'd go for other basic commodities instead," intoned Gloc9, Francis M.'s heir apparent, and a very accomplished singer/songwriter..
A staunch advocate of OPM, McJim envisions to breathe life into the local music industry by creating interest in OPM amongst today's youth as it brought together MTV Pinoy, FEU and its MassComm Society into the assemblage. The brand aimed to help young Filipinos identify themselves with, and listen to, OPM music like how past generations patronized the likes of APO Hiking Society, VST & Co., Hagibis, and Hotdog among many others.
"At the end of the day, OPM is still a business. If our collaborative works don't sell, we will all be in trouble. Part of our job is to guide artists on the paths they take. Filipinos are so prone to patronizing Western music. Colonial mentality has been part of our psyche for the longest time.
"OPM is our life; though it peaks and declines at various times. When was the last time you bought a CD or downloaded legally a movie format? There lies the answer," lamented Jinno Mina of Sonic Sound Studios.
McJim also wanted the studentry to understand that there should be no stopping OPM from producing international hits again, like it used to before. And that can only happen when the youth themselves will legally procure locally recorded sound. "OPM can take the world by storm again, like in the case of the undying Freddie Aguilar hit 'Anak' or like what the K-Pop artists are doing right now. But we must remember that the first step to achieve global success is steadfast local support," enthused talent manager and music producer Chris Cahilig. The former FEU faculty member served as facilitator in the series of talks that will be broadcasted by MTV Pinoy.
"McJim's classic leather line has succeeded where very few has. Its commitment to world-class quality and originality has earned the respect and love of Filipino consumers everywhere. Their products have become part of the lives of Pinoys through the years; just like how OPM has been influencing us. I am thankful that there are brands like McJim Classics which support advocacies to enliven OPM," Cahilig added.
The leather label shed light on the true state of OPM in the local music scene by exchanging opinions with no less than the most involved segment of our society: the youth.
"Filipino record sales went down from a high of 50,000 during our time to a low of 7,500 nowadays to be certified as a gold hit. But music has problems worldwide, not just here. Before, music sells by its own merits; when songwriting was superior. Today, good music can turn bad because of its music video and vice versa. It's less about the music but more about the companies riding on the bandwagon. It's about who the networks fielded that will spike up the ratings. OPM is one of the top three in the world but we lack confidence.
"The ticket is to come as you are. Look at those that made it: Brazilians singing in Portuguese, Japanese in Nippongo, K-Pop in Korean, Latin sound in Spanish, and Anak in Tagalog. The late Bob Marley sang as he was: in imperfect grammar!
"Now, OPM is straitjacketed in its sound. We need to bring it back to the time when it was an open game. Listeners are hungry for a different kind of experience: a new story essayed in song like what the Brazilians are doing," revealed Jim Paredes of APO, a group who enjoyed a steadily-rising career spanning four decades.
The symosium likewise served as avenue to promote some of the latest original songs of local artists such as boy band 1:43, the male quartet behind 'Sa Isang Sulyap Mo' that won in the 5th Star Awards for Music as 2014 Song of the Year. The all-male singing group is also the same artist of such hit songs as 'Ang Saya-Saya' and 'Hayop sa Ganda.'
"During the Cory administration, then Pres. Aquino passed Exec. Order 255 that mandated four OPM songs to be played every hour, by the hour in all radio stations. Today, no such law exists to help local artists.
"The creation of a song by a Filipino is what makes it an OPM tune. It is anything written by any Filipino composer in Tagalog and/or any Philippine dialect. Singers are the hardware and sound is the software. So if artists do covers of Western songs, we promote others. The hardware and software must fit perfectly to work.
"We also grew up with Western music. But when we started singing, we realized foreign artists did not write their songs for Filipinos. They're singing their stories. We are simply a market who buy them.
"So we wrote the soundtrack of our lives and started singing lovesongs in Tagalog. From kundiman to rap, the winning formula is of a loved one on a pedestal and the other wooing and pursuing his/her love interest through insormountable odds. And then sweet love is savored in the end. But for it to work, the feelings must be real and not faked. Our time defied colonial mentality. The '70s and early '80s played Tagalog music in different genres. Sadly, it fizzled starting in the mid '80s. Artist groups are now pushing for equity like the Westerners and for a law similar to EO 255," Paredes said in closing.
McJim still believes that appreciation for local music should start with the young. The brand's support for Filipino music can be traced back to the glory days of Jose Mari Chan and Randy Santiago, unto contemporary artists like the awrd-winning boy band 1:43. Last year, McJim held its very own talent search, 'Dreams Get Real,' that discovered emerging rock group Fifth Dynamics, boy band JBK, and solo artist Neo Domingo.
To know more about McJim's 'The State of OPM' campaign, simply visit the company Web site, www.mcjimleather.com.