If someone were to tell you that she was a member of an “all-girl indie alternative pop band” — how would you imagine her?
Let me guess: you would imagine someone immersed in a vigorous brand of youth armed with the melody of raw emotion, strumming into existence the latest heartbreak, or that time the world felt too large, or the next anthem about growing up, but, of course, all with a dash of childlike recklessness. You would imagine the electric guitars, the bubbly disposition, the catchy rhythm all set for a playful dance. You would imagine freedom, the one that’s all too ready to chase whatever the world has to offer. It’s a phrase ripe with a certain youthful exuberance, a modern creation by those who have finally escaped the confines of an old, unrelenting tradition.
The image should be perfectly clear. Yet, surprisingly, even that drawn-out picture fails to capture the entirety of Melissa Ramos, resident violinist of the local band Indayo, an up-and-coming five-piece indie alternative act.
Melissa is no stranger to music—she’s been taking piano and violin lessons since she was in preschool. Being trained in the classical style, she wields a strong technical foundation whenever she plays. Nourishing her hunger for this calling, her school’s symphony orchestra and music appreciation clubs were instrumental in giving her a space to practice, improve, and eventually, meet fellow musicians. By this point, she had already been doing solo violin recitals and participating in various group performances for years—a feat that is a testatement to her dedicaction and discipline. Her background was already very strong.
Deep down, she probably knew that the same club (Music Appreciation Club – Instrumentalists of St. Paul College, Pasig) would eventually open opportunities for her to join a group. The surprise, however, was this: did it ever cross her mind that her life as a clasically trained violinist would lead her to performing for an all-girl indie alternative pop band?
And thus, Indayo—Lia as both vocalist and bassist, Cha as the lead guitarist, Melissa as the violinist, Cita as the dummer, and Mela as the cellist. They are a mix of loud, quirky and altogether awkward individuals, yet are passionate in doing what they love to do– that is, to create music. To date, they have released two official singles on sound cloud, entitled “Tug of War” and “Elude”.
What’s it like being a classically trained violinist in an alternative-pop indie band?
It took some time for me to adjust to the sound after joining Indayo. I’ve only ever performed classical music up until that point, and the alternative-pop indie genre wasn’t what I was used to. I do listen to a lot of alternative, pop, and indie music though, but the thing is, violinists aren’t so common in bands (especially bands playing those genres) as they are as soloists. So it was double the struggle; crossing over to a completely different genre with virtually no one to pattern myself after. Performing with Indayo has challenged me to be creative with my arrangments, applying the techniques that I’ve learned in classical training while playing a different genre, so there’s a lot of experimentation involved.
Aside from being in Indayo, what other groups are you a part of?
I love my band, and through the years I’ve only ever performed with them publicly for gigs inside and outside school. I don’t mind playing with others though; it’s always true when they say that you discover new things about yourself when you spend time with new people, and I think that applies as well musically. If you mean music organizations though, I’m a performer for both the Ateneo Blue Symphony and Ateneo Musician’s Pool too!
How do think the violin contributes to the overall sound of the band?
I wouldn’t say that it makes the sound “softer and flowier” even if that’s the expected answer, because it really doesn’t. For me, I’d just relate it to feeling and say that it adds that extra drama factor to the music. Think about it like, if you were listening to a piece of music and the violin suddenly plays a solo, don’t you just feel a very intense sort of emotion? I’m not so sure how to describe it either, but the closest thing that I can come up with is soulful. Honestly though, I can’t call my playing “soulful” yet, but I’ll get there soon.
What do you think sets your band apart from other Filipino bands?
We’ve recently gotten some comments that we play very different music in one set. Some of our songs are very happy, energetic and feel-good pop and some are very funky and edgy, so I guess it’s the variety of music that we play. As far as I know, we’ve never really stuck to one “feel” so in a way that makes our sound more universal. Another major plus is that we’re an all-girl alternative-indie pop band, which is not very usual. Diversity in sound, and diversity in the music industry as well!
As a budding band, what is your biggest dream?
Our biggest dream is to create music that is personally and socially relevant– give a voice to those who can’t seem to transform their thoughts into words throught the music we make.
Any inspiring words for young musicians out there?
Believe that you can never do just one thing. Three years ago, before Indayo, I thought that I would be playing classical music only throughout my life, but that wasn’t the case. Another thing to remember also is that no matter how good you think you are at your instrument, you should never give up trying to improve at it because there is always something new to learn. So grab all the opportunities that you can to do that, and, in time, you’ll reap the rewards of your perseverance! Music is life.
Catch Melissa Ramos and the rest of Indayo in Rites of Passage by the Ateneo Musicians’ Pool on November 11, 2017 (7:00 pm) at Mow’s Bar,
performing alongside other new bands! Like the following pages to show your support and stay updated with their gigs: