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The music scene here is a tight-knit community. In it, both fans and musicians have a kumbayah attitude. It’s a small scene where people lift each other up. That’s where the problem of music criticism lies; no one seems to bother. No artist is, or will ever be, perfect. Like what Erykah Badu once said: “I’m an artist—and I’m sensitive about my shit.” Yet, it didn’t stop critics from Pitchfork for calling the great queen of Neo-soul a narcissist for her art.
And in a country where music criticism is seen as nonexistent, forming a site dedicated to doing just that takes balls. That’s what The Flying Lugaw has been doing since 2016.
People under this DIY music blog see themselves as “semi-professional social media lampooners.” But they’re more than that though. Through their WordPress articles and Facebook posts, they remind everyone that there’s room for improvement. It’s all about growth and that’s okay.
Their four years were not limited to unfiltered music criticism. It’s been about unearthing underground talent and curating memorable gigs. All of this effort is dedicated to creating a safe space for healthy discourse on local music.
So when they mounted “The Last Order,” a lot of us local gig rats started to worry.
“Our readers and close friends hit us up online and they were genuinely asking what the reason was to why we’re ‘closing down’ or what’s up with our ‘final’ show or something along those lines,” says The Flying Lugaw. “We then responded by giving them very vague answers like ‘oh, we wanted to move on to bigger and better things.”
It turns out bigger and better things didn’t mean shutting down. It meant killing their moniker “The Flying Lugaw” for good. As their members’ Facebook post goes, “Fuck music. Fuck The Flying Lugaw. Call us TFL from now on.”
Curious on what all of this means for the DIY music site, we talked to the folks from The Flying Lugaw. Here are their personal takes on rebranding, local music criticism’s current state, and their plans for the new decade.
Where did the idea of rebranding to ‘TFL’ come from?
A team member pitched the idea of expanding our content and organizing everything about The Flying Lugaw: from the team structure, schedules, and roles. During the meeting, we decided to sort out the visual identity, which led to the decision to rebrand.
You’ve been around for four years. Why make this huge decision now?
We wanted to let everyone know that The Flying Lugaw isn’t a one-man team anymore. For almost four years, we’ve grown into this collection of individuals who share the same passion for music writing, booking shows, putting up benefit gigs, and overall creating a safe space for discourse. The new name symbolizes this as an ongoing team effort. We’re all in just to organize something that benefits the community.
What drove you to keep at it for so long?
Generally speaking, there’s always a sense of excitement whenever you organize a show you yourself curated. It kind of works similarly with releasing reviews once a week because you couldn’t resist the idea of being stoked for your readers to discover the stuff you wrote about.
“We know we may not be the in-depth reviewers out there or even the best. For us, it’s also about getting better at what we love doing.”
For us, it’s also this feedback we receive from our readers, showing their gratitude on how this song made them feel better or whatever emotion they emulate from it. No matter how challenging music writing may be, there’s always a reader who’ll feel the same about a certain song. This type of immediate connection clicks with us for the longest time.
There’s also the constant challenge of refining our craft; we know we may not be the in-depth reviewers out there or even the best. For us, it’s also about getting better at what we love doing.
Read more: Negativity is not an option for musicians Jigo Viriña and Mariamaria
During The Last Order gig, a lot of people thought you guys were closing for good. How did the team react to it?
We’ve been building up the Last Order hype for almost four months. Based on our observations, people actually believed we were putting a nail on the blog’s coffin. There was one time where, around the same week of the gig, a good friend of mine in the scene received the same message from five to six people in different bands, asking why we’re closing down. It was a chain of scene people asking other scene people wondering why we’re putting an end to The Flying Lugaw.
The best way to find out what’s going on was to go to ‘The Last Order.’ They didn’t expect the surprises we pulled off in the show. It was satisfying to see their reactions and celebrating with us after.
Read more: Trust Delinquent Society, they’ll be on that global scene soon enough
With four years on the belt, how has the music/local gig scene changed? Where does TFL fit in these waves of changes?
Back when the blog started, the music scene was fairly small. A lot of people knew each other through gigs. That all changed when 2017 came everyone started to make a name for themselves for a good cause. When the gig scene exploded again around that period, musicians/artists released a lot of great stuff, from EPs to albums that drove TFL to produce content about their works.
The decade just arrived and we have a lot in store for everyone. The time is ripe for a new change of pace with what we’re doing, and we’re happy to have people still tuning in.
It’s almost overwhelming to witness some of our favorite musicians, who used to record their demos in a bedroom a couple of years ago, making it in bigger stages today. We, as a team, were fully driven to write about the shifts of a particular scene. People will someday wonder what it was like to be involved in a music community in, let’s say, 2013 or 2018.
Read more: Meet the kids molding Filipino synth-pop’s future
What can the local scene expect from you this 2020?
Expect a lot from TFL. A sequel of our much-awaited zine perhaps? A website, maybe? More gigs? More in-depth pieces of your favorite artist, pocket scenes, albums, singles? Let’s find out. The decade just arrived and we have a lot in store for everyone. The time is ripe for a new change of pace with what we’re doing, and we’re happy to have people still tuning in.
Photos by Ellyphant