Wincy Aquino Ong, former bassist for Manila’s mid-2000s indie favorite Narda, eventually moved on to guitar and keyboard duties for the good music of Us-2 Evil-0 with other formerly-of’s. Now thirty and having grown weary of the scene, he has again left off for something else, this time for business school in Vancouver. Sure, he took himself away from the band, but one can’t take music away from him, hence the bedroom project PATIENCE DEAR JUGGERNAUT. Having released his horror comedy San Lazaro last year, people would also recall him as a filmmaker, heck, even as actor in Quark Henares’s Rakenrol (2011). These titles reflect the same sensitive, sometimes lost-in-thought, and wise character worth quoting for his “Wincyims.” Here, Ong talks about his current “sweater music,” Girl the Impaler, and his next compilation, a nod to the late period of Eraserheads.
[one_third]Interview by Nante Santamaria
Photo by Cj de Silva
[two_third_last]We met during your late Narda days, then you had Us-2 Evil-0 after. Why the solo project now? I mean this started when you were still here.
I think I just got sick of gigging really. Gigging in Manila is such a hassle. You waste so much gas. You wait there for three hours before you can play. Most of the people who watch you are other bands.
Before you play, you’re already drunk.
Yes, and there’s smoke everywhere. It wasn’t worth it. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. And it’s not like you’d even earn a hundred pesos from playing in a gig. You could do that while you’re still young. But I’m turning thirty this year, and it’s time to enjoy music in my own private time and place: the bedroom.
You seem to be getting into this whole settling down thing recently. Your engaged Facebook status is legit? How is it changing your creative output aside from needing to do something solo?
Yes, settling down is the theme of my life now. I am engaged to my fiancé [Cj de Silva, the artist] and planning on settling down. I guess I’m less a slave to my dreams now. Turning thirty is such a gift. In your twenties, you’re practically a slave to your dreams. You abuse your body and mind to make your dreams come true. I can say I’m happy with whatever I’ve had accomplished in my thirty years on Earth so far. So now, my priority is not fame or keeping up a teenage legacy. My priority is peace.
I guess the last hurrah to that slavery of yours was releasing San Lazaro. Filmmaking continues beside your music, right? Anything in the works—at least a new screenplay?
Yes! I am hoping to make a sequel to San Lazaro if some investors may be interested. And it will be more about an end-of-the-Philippines one-night setting. It’s less focused on an exorcism and more on stopping an apocalypse. I am also planning on shooting a short film here in Vancouver. Just a simple film with lots of character studies. No budget at all.
Glad to hear you’re very active on that area. Seems like you’re feeling at home there.
Yes, I love it here. It’s more suited to introverted tendencies, unlike Manila where everything is noisy and built for the extroverted.
In this “Wincyisms” video, you were quoted saying “I’m a Canadian man trapped in a Filipino body.” This is your chance to refute misquoted Wincyisms.
Oh no…nothing to refute at all. I love the way Canadians are simple people, really—people who hang out in parks instead of the malls on the weekends, people who just want a simple life without that whole millionaire-rockstar dream.
Are you aware that Spot.PH put you in a list of Top 10 Cutest Male Directors?
Yes, I am aware of that.
Along Laurenti Dyogi?
Yes, and with Quark Henares.
A “Beta Male” reaction would be…
“Guys, I did not expect this” or “It’s like standing on the shoulders of Brad Pitt.”
A Singaporean site mistyped your album as The Girl Impaler. That works, too, huh?
Yes. I am loving that little malapropism. Works too. From beta to alpha in a jumble, in one switcheroo.
The reviews agree on this compilation’s heart-on-a-sleeve attitude. How do you reconcile that with your “introversion”?
I think I’m pretty extroverted when it comes to art. I’m a pretty honest guy, an open book. I have no secrets, really. And yes, I think the best way of putting out the truth is through fiction. Most of the songs in Girl the Impaler are semi-autobiographical and semi-fictional, so in that way, I am protected and free to say anything, at the same time [nothing].
What were you listening to when you made this? Top of my head says Ben Folds. Who else helped into the making of this one?
Yes, Ben Folds is a personal hero of mine ever since high school, however, with this one, honestly, I scoured the bins from 70s AM radio, Todd Rundgren, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Chris Montez, Burt Bacharach, the piano man sound of the 70s, the singer-songwriter era with all those cheesy chord progressions. I sometimes call it sweater music. I can imagine a sweatered man singing these songs.
There you go. Or I call it “music for librarians.”
I heard that you have a lot more to release after this. What do we expect? And how soon?
Yes! The follow-up is coming soon. It’s an all-Filipino album this time. Think Eraserheads’s Cutterpillow era but now with more sarcasm and weirder. I mean the Eraserheads were weird. I’m gunning for Eraserheads that is almost David Lynchian in its weirdness. I love the era of the Eraserheads post-Fruitcake the most. After Fruitcake, the real fans stuck to them, while the casual listener just moved on to Wolfgang and P.O.T.
That was also the inaccessible part, the time of waning popularity, I guess, but it still had lots of gems.
I think the fact that their popularity waned was what gave them more cred. But yes, the dark era of the Eraserheads—from Sticker Happy to Carbon Stereoxide—that was such an influence on my music. I still stuck to my E-heads obsession in spite of the fact that the world had moved on to Limp Bizkit and Barbie’s Cradle.[/two_third_last]