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Uploaded November 3, 2019

DISKURSO'S SINGER-SONGWRITER TIER


 

On understanding family and society members' differences, even when most mistake arrival for departure

 

photo by 10 a.m. Departure


an interview with 10 a.m. Departure's Zach Lopez

 

 

 


 

 

Last month, diskurso.com interviewed 10 a.m. Departure's ZACH LOPEZ for our magazine's first coverage of a singer-songwriter, launching our series surveying musicians who also write, compose, and then perform their own material and are currently working the Manila bar stages, alone or with a band. 10 a.m. Departure was formed in 2016 but was launched to a wider public only this year, with Lopeza BA Language and Literature graduate of the University of the Philippines in Baguioat the band's writing helm.
 

Zach Lopez (foreground) with his band, 10 a.m. Departure, onstage at Social House (along Riverfront Drive in Makati), August 22, 2019. Photo by Marcel Antonio
 

 


 

HOW to start an interview series with singer-songwriters working the stage of Manila bars in our time? Uhm, our publisher pointed to Vanity Fair's accommodation of the Proust Questionnaire for approaching target personalities, both the evasive established and the interestingly struggling, whose songs better speak for themselves. VF seemed to have succeeded with that strategy in relation to the likes of David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and so on, so we figured we'd emulate the approach, with our publisher sending much of the questionnaire's questions, following those up with more pointed ones from our editor only after everything had been laid out to a level of comfort.
    Of course, those who know us as that rag that would rather talk about the songs than the songwriter, this would be an almost antithetical approach to our treatment of an interviewee. Actually, no. A law is not just a set of texts, as there's what's called the spirit of the law, without which that law would fly out to so much openness as to be anything to anyone. Perhaps the Proust Questionnaire could be a way to close the text of a songwriter's songs, introducing the possible spirit or spirits operating from behind the songwriter's songwriting and songs. Perhaps.
    So, let's try all that in this first salvo. We'll start the interview series with this one with ZACH LOPEZ of the 2016-formed but only-got-to-be-really-serious-in-2019 band called 10 a.m. Departure. Lopez is a graduate of the language and literature BA program of the University of the Philippines in Baguio.
    With this interview, we'll also introduce you to the band's entry to WANDERBAND2020, yet to be released as a single, titled "SJT". As well, into their cover of a song that should give us a glimpse of what this band would choose to cover, get us to guess why they're covering it, and then nudge us to see how they're trying to cover things.
    Here's how our questions progressed/evolved through our time with Zach:

 

Diskurso.com: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Zach Lopez: Perfect happiness for me is living harmoniously with all living creatures in the world. I know that sounds very idealistic, but thatís what I would consider to be the perfect sort of happiness, so, . . .

D: What is your most marked characteristic?

ZL:
I think my most marked characteristic is my outgoingness. I enjoy socializing! Sometimes Iíd get awkward being introduced to someone, but once I get comfy with people I really wonít stop mingling. (laughs)

D: As of today, what do you consider as your greatest achievement?

ZL:
As of today, my greatest achievement would be my having been able to support myself to get by each day. Though Iím not earning much, Iím still happy that I can get through each day without having to depend on someone. I'd admit that I'd still ask for help sometimes (laughs), but I can say that I have at least progressed.

D: What is your greatest fear?

ZL:
My greatest fear is growing old unhappily.

D: Which historical figure do you most identify with?

ZL:
Iíd probably identify myself most with Vincent Van Gogh, if only because he wasnít really understood by his peers, having a distinct way of thinking. I must say Iím not much of a fan of his work, but I like him because heís nuts. (laughs)

D: Which living person do you most admire?

ZL: I super-love Dave Grohl. Heís one of those people who really started from nothing. And even though heís now at the top, he remains humble while being one of the best musicians in the rock world today.

D: Who are your heroes in real life?

ZL: My heroes in real life are those who are fighting to serve the people. Not the hypocrites, but the ones who really want better things for all of mankind.

D: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

ZL: Definitely my impatience. Even I get annoyed with my own impatience. I'm working on it, though. If you met me a few years earlier, you would've hated me. (laughs)

D: What is your favorite journey?

ZL: My favorite journey has been this, my starting to live independently. I met a lot of good and horrible people, got my first job, started playing more gigs in Metro Manila, and got a much better understanding of how life works. I still donít know how to cook, though. (laughs)

D: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

ZL: Our country's being deeply rooted in Catholicism. I honestly think that that's the most overrated virtue in our parts, from where one would say that people should fear God (or any divine being, for that matter). Some of those who faithfully go to church every Sunday donít even care about the people around them. A lot of them are leaders in our government who are living lives full of bullshit and corruption.

D: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

ZL: ďG!Ē, ďAnak ng!Ē, ďTara, kain tayo.Ē

D: What is your greatest regret?

ZL: I wish I could say Iím living a life with no regrets, but thatís just fucking impossible. (laughs) I have a lot of regrets. But as for my greatest regret, it might be that one where I let many opportunities pass me by. This was when I was younger. Thatís the reason why, in the present, I try to make sure I'm grabbing every good opportunity that's passing by.

D: What is your current state of mind?

ZL: Right now? My mind is just wild.

D: If you could change one thing about your family, what would that be?

ZL: Choosing just one is very, very difficult. Iíd probably say, I hope my family would be much more understanding towards family members' differences. We canít force people to have the same beliefs as ours, even if we come from the same bloodline.

D: What is your most treasured possession?

ZL: Probably my brain. Nobody can take it from me (literally and figuratively). I mean, I wouldnít be who I am today without it.

D: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

ZL: The lowest depth of misery for me would be when you lose something you know youíll never get to replace.

D: Where would you like to live?

ZL: Iíd like to live in a house located in high altitude. Also, it would be great if that house would automatically stock the cupboards with food. And if it could clean itself on its own.

D: Who is your favorite band?

ZL: Definitely The Beatles. I think this is the easiest question you've thrown thus far.

D: What is the quality you most like in a man?

ZL: In a man? . . . Well, if a man can properly respect women, that man would get a ready thumbs-up from me.

D: What is the quality you most like in a woman?

ZL: The strength of women is just astonishing. I donít get why a lot of people think women are weak. Those who think that are likely stupid.

D: What inspires your songwriting?

ZL: Anything under the sun, really. Iím not much of a fan of writing so much ďloveĒ songs, which is why I'm trying my best to write about anything and everything.

D: What is your motto?

ZL: Youíll never be the best just sitting down.

D: How do you see yourself ten years from now?

ZL: I hope that in ten years Iíd be someone happily pursuing what he wants without worrying if he still has enough money to buy food for the week.

D: What is your biggest peeve in the music industry?

ZL: There are a ton of amazing and fantastic artists who need a push. But because of the commercial aspect of the music industry, they donít get what they really, really deserve.

D: What is your biggest satisfaction in the music industry?

ZL: Well, seeing that there is a way to earn a living through music gives me hope that maybe one day Iíll be able to survive just by playing music. Itís still a long way away from where we are, but, you know, baby steps will take us there.

D: If you are to describe your band, 10 a.m. Departure, in two words, what would those two words be?

ZL: Fantastically eclectic. Our group has a ton of inspirations because we come from different musical backgrounds. When you listen to our songs, youíll hear a hodge-podge of musical genres.

D: Who would you like to collaborate with to make music, if given a chance?

ZL:
A lot of musicians! At the top of my list would be Paul McCartney, Noel Gallagher, Ely Buendia, Brandon Boyd, and Thom Yorke.

D: Where does your money go for the most part?

ZL:
My money mostly goes to my padís utilities and my food. Living in Metro Manila is very expensive.

D: Whom would you consider your ideal audience when you play your kind of music?

ZL:
To be honest, I donít mind whether weíre performing for teens or the elderly. We try our best to mix the elements of contemporary music with those of classic hits in order to be appealing to all ages. However, in the gig scene, there are more chances of playing in front of a younger crowd, so . . .

D: Why do you write the songs that you write?

ZL:
My songs, like with most songwriters, are my means of catharsis.

D: Would you prefer to have somebody else perform some or one of your songs?

ZL: I enjoy performing. Getting to perform with my bandmates in front of a live crowd those songs that Iíve written is just an amazing experience.

D: Why'd you call your band 10 a.m. Departure, by the way? Has this anything to do with the Dan Henry song "Twenty Minutes Before Takeoff"? Or just a hat off to The Black Keys' "10 A.M. Automatic"?

ZL:
Well, we called ourselves 10 a.m. Departure because when we were starting out, our band meetings/practices were always set at 10 a.m. But, then, most of us always left the house at 10 a.m., too. (laughs) We initially wanted our band name to be ď10 a.m. Noise,Ē but that didnít seem to be true to us, so we stuck to what we have now. By the way, unfortunately our name doesnít have anything to do with those songs you mention, but itís actually cool that our name can somehow be connected to those great titles.

D: You're a literature major. Would you credit your education with most of what's in your songs?

ZL:
Hmm. For some part, yes. But for the most part, not really. Iím not a super-poetic writer, I think. However, my background in literature has helped me in the fixing of my lyrics, if that makes sense. Para naman I can mess with people on how theyíll read my songs. I'd say that that background also helps me in my exploration of more genres of music, because that definitely helps in my songwriting. I mean, iniisip ko na parang college din, sobrang daming librong kailangang basahin. The difference is, I enjoy doing music more, so it's there where I love to explore more. (laughs)

D: Finally, let's go to your entry to WANDERBAND2020. "SJT"? What was that song all about? It could actually be a sweet sort of graduation song, but are you concerned that others might look at it as a sort of mass suicide lyric or one about a bunch of leftists on their way to joining the NPA?

ZL:
The song ďSJTĒ started out when I rode the LRT. I was reading the ticket, which said ďsingle journey ticket.Ē I immediately took note of it, then, when I got home, I started singing the line as ďsingle journey trip.Ē Itís more like my ode to life, I could say. We all have one life, so letís just make the best of it.
    I could say that the song could also be a graduation song, why not? But beyond that, damn, never thought of it as possibly those. (laughs) I think that most people who'd hear the song wouldnít think of it as either a mass suicide lyric or a recruitment song, but if they do, Iíd be happy to explain to them the real meaning behind the song I intended. The dilemma here is if the lyric-reader invokes Roland Barthesí essay ďThe Death of the Author,Ē in which case Iím doomed. (laughs)

D: Shouldn't you be
understanding towards family members' differences?

ZL: I should be understanding towards society members' differences. (laughs)
[d]

 

10 a.m. Departure performs "SJT" for WANDERBAND2020


10 a.m. Departure's cover of Elton John's "Bennie and The Jets" for WANDERBAND2020

 

SJT
(words by Zach Lopez; music by Lopez and 10 a.m. Departure)

I:
Youíve got a ticket for a one-way ride
Others will hop along, you shouldnít mind
The train is leaving, so get in line
Donít worry, boy, youíll be fine

CI:
'Cause itís a single journey trip
Thereís no going back
Yeah, itís a single journey trip
Just stay on track

II:
Youíve got a ticket for a one-way ride
Others will hop along, you should not mind
The train is leaving, so get inside
Donít worry, girl, youíll be fine

CI:
'Cause itís a single journey trip
Thereís no going back
Yeah, itís a single journey trip
Just stay on track

Bridge:
You gotta stay on track
'Cause thereís no going back
Yeah, you canít go back, oh!

CII:
'Cause itís a single journey trip
Thereís no going back
Yeah, itís a single journey trip
Just stay on track
Itís a single journey trip
Thereís no going back
Yeah, itís a single journey trip
Just stay on track


 

 


 

 

 

 


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diskurso is an independent, Philippines-based online magazine on art aiming to veer away from a present mental landscape replete with the customary peacock and weasel words that continue to service the art industry.