We really, really miss IRL gigs.
From the late nights to the live spectacles, IRL gigs are such a huge part of youth culture. But then Miss ’Rona took all that away from us. And we’re not alone in this since artists themselves miss the gig life too—just like us.
For now, virtual gigs are here to fill this void. We have collectives like Club Martryoshka’s ingenious Minecraft performances and brands like Don Papa mounting festivals over social media. It’s how our local music scene continues to thrive. Just ask R&B darling Jason Dhakal and neo-soul wunderkind August Wahh.
The pandemic didn’t stop these artists from making career moves. As we all know, Jason recently joined Paradise Rising, 88rising’s Philippine arm. August didn’t stop dropping singles, even collaborating with fellow musicians such as Crwn. They’ve been consistently creating regardless of our crazy ass plague year.
Below, we chat with these two young artists on their current plans, what they’re vibing right now and what they miss most about the normal times.
Despite this crazy ass year, you managed to pull a lot of shit. What motivates you to continue your creative drive?
Honestly, I’m getting back to making music again. I just planned a studio session a couple of days ago. A while ago, in the middle of quarantine, I was so demotivated. I didn’t wanna force myself to work on anything because I wasn’t experiencing anything, you know?
I was just in my apartment the whole time and I live alone so it felt like my head was rotting. But anyway [laughs], other than that,I’m just happy that I’m getting back out there. Before all of this, I always made music. Every single day I’d sing because I’d experience so many things.
“Live events are definitely gonna replace the real feeling of being able to perform in front of a crowd and to see people in front you.”
A lot of bars we’ve loved and we grew up with have shut down this year. Do you see virtual events as the future of nightlife?
I feel this is not definitely gonna replace the real feeling of being able to perform in front of a crowd and to see people in front you. The last time I performed, which was at XX XX and it was like my first performance coming back from Oman and it’s the only performance I had this year, I didn’t expect to be that good but there were people out there and they sang my song. And I’ve never experienced people singing my song back to me. So, I’ve experienced that one time now [laughs]. I love it so much.
Are you willing to share with the class some 2020 plans that didn’t push through?
[Sighs] Oh my god. Yeah, my “Love Sound” party. That’s something I never got to make. It’s supposed to be in 2020, March 31st. And it was supposed to be the first time me and the band [would] perform and we were rehearsing for months. We started in December ’til March.
Damn, I hate that. That was hella sad. It would’ve been so cool to see you with a full band.
Right? It was so alive. They’re all straight men, so it was such a whole different environment for me. But it’s so cool because I get to have a perception of what straight men think about. They’re all really cool and accepting of me. I love them all, they’re like my bigger brothers now.
Where do you hope to do in the next two years or after the plague is over?
I’ve been here for three years and so much has changed. Next year, I’m gonna be 21. The things that I do now scare me. So when I’m fully legal and I could fly to other places and be also legal, it’s over for everyone. I’m gonna be thoting and popping everywhere. I hope so.
“In 2021, I’m gonna be thoting and popping everywhere. I hope so.”
Neo-soul isn’t popular locally. What motivated you to stick with it nonetheless?
I grew up listening to it and I feel good… I love it. I love the genre so much. Neo-soul has so many emotions like just how it sounds, really. Or like how singers sing it—so much emotion. I feel like that resonated with me a lot because I’m very emotional [laughs].
Surprisingly enough, this year is a pretty good year for music, despite all the crazy. Are you looking forward to some upcoming drops from people you stan?
To be honest with you, I haven’t been checking online so much to see who’s dropping stuff soon but [there’s] this one guy that I just recently discovered, his name’s Billy Lemos. He just dropped an EP a couple weeks back and he’s super fucking amazing.
Locally speaking, I know She’s Only Sixteen’s dropping new music in a few weeks’ time; I’ve heard a couple and it’s really, really dope. This guy from New York who drops tracks every two weeks or so he’s just dropping like bomb, bomb, bomb music.
“Everyone’s just gonna like rent spots, have secret parties. And that’s gonna be like a whole new fucking era.”
In your honest opinion, would this year change our local music scene?
Yeah, it definitely would. You know, with bad things in there and a few good things in there too. If you wanna look into different perspectives, bad because all the beloved bars that we all used to play at closed and 20:20, that’s been like home base since like 2015 and it’s gone. That broke my heart.
But at the same time, we’re in this thing right now where everyone’s trying to adapt to make art happen again, how to make live performances again. I just have a theory that once all of this is over, pop-ups are gonna be the new thing.
Everyone’s just gonna like rent spots, have secret parties. Pop-ups everywhere. And that’s gonna be like a whole new fucking era. That’s gonna be super exciting.
What’s your dream performance once we can all go out and experience nightlife as it’s meant to be experienced?
That’s a tricky one. I actually haven’t thought of this too much. A dream performance would definitely be in an amphitheater with amazing acoustics, with familiar people, with new people and everyone just like vibing with me.
What do you want to be known for as you continue to grow with your craft?
I like to think that when I write my songs, I share that freedom with others. I feel so free writing these songs and I feel super free when I’m performing.
Every time I perform my songs in front of people, I share that piece of freedom to them. And I’m hoping that what they take from it is a spark of inspiration that if they have pursuits, that they go for it because they got inspired by what I did.
Thanks to Jason Dhakal and Fern’s livestream, I have emotions again
A eulogy for Route 196 (and other gig haunts we lost)
Listen to August Wahh’s latest drop, ‘Know What I Want’
Art by Jan Cardasto
Photos courtesy of Don Papa Rum