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What in the world is makata pop? An introduction to the band Munimuni

By Bea Amador
Photo by Nuki Timtiman, Color graded by Marilen Magsaysay

If this is your first time hearing about a band called Munimuni, let me give you some advice. Head on to Spotify. Type “Munimuni” on the search bar and start listening. Done? You’re welcome.

What you’ve probably initially noticed about this group is that their indie folk sound is complemented by deep, poetic lyrics written in Filipino–which, of course, is bound to hit home even more than usual. And yes, here at SCOUT, we’re a sucker for bands that give us all the feels. Munimuni only proves that they’re definitely not here to blend into the background of the Filipino music scene. Composed of members Adj Jiao, TJ de Ocampo, John Owen Castro, Red Calayan, and Jolo Ferrer, Munimuni have arrived to make a name for themselves.

The name Munimuni itself came up after a random jeepney ride where TJ realized that the word “muni-muni,” which means “reflecting,” “daydreaming,” or “meditating” in English, captured the very essence of their music. Formerly calling themselves The AJ Project in reference to their frontman Adj (who brought all the members together), the group has been making music for around four years now with their own genre called ‘makata pop.’

What exactly is makata pop? Put two and two together–“makata” translates to “poet.” Munimuni actually coined the term themselves when they realized that what set them apart from other indie OPM artists is their incorporation of Filipino poetry into their lyrics. Although not entirely opposed to English, they prefer writing their songs in Filipino to make them more relatable and striking to the everyday Filipino listener. Makata pop and their music, as they described, is a “rediscovery of the beauty of Filipino poetry,” which we hear in combination with their soulful melodies and grounded, earthy folk sound.

One of their most heart-wrenching and memorable lyrics comes from their track “Sa Hindi Pag-Alala.” Band member TJ writes, “Kakalimutan na kita, siguraduhin mong hindi talaga pwedeng tayo.” TJ, who made the song a while back, sheepishly admitted that he cringes whenever he thinks about what had inspired it before. But hey, we can’t blame him for taking the time to create. After all, the most painful experiences sometimes make for the best songs, art, stories, and films.

The band released their debut EP last March entitled Simula, with six tracks that’ll probably make you cry or smile if you’re going through something real personal. Munimuni are currently writing new songs for their upcoming album and we’ll definitely be looking forward to it.

You can listen to Munimuni’s EP Simula through Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud. For updates about their upcoming gigs, you can visit their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @munitheband.

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