How Sound Architects Became Modern Builders of Filipino Post-Rock: Interview

Sound Architects
Courtesy of Sound Architects

Sound Architects

Architecture: the marriage of science and the arts, often referred to as the highest form of art by renaissance men and the romantics. When you think of the word "architecture," a massive canvas of structures and high-rise buildings come to mind. But, how does architecture translate
into sound? Sometimes, music can be traditional just like Greek and Roman structures, but could also be as fluid and innovative like the post-modern architecture that we learned to embrace today.

Filipino post-rock band Sound Architects -- a quartet comprised of Johann Mendoza on guitar, Patrick Roxas on guitar, Felix Cordova on drums and Rjay Concepcion on bass -- translate music into a different form of architecture.

They just recently released their debut album, In Time of Need, a sonic soliloquy by design, packed with ambient and ethereal melodies. They continuously define the modern day instrumental music in the local scene, the band's sound best described to be similar to international acts such as Caspian, Sigur Rós and Mogwai.

Billboard Philippines sat down with Johann Mendoza for a quick chat about the band's history and influences and where they're headed now.

Formation and Early Days
We formed around mid-2014. Rjay, Patrick, and I are course mates in UP Diliman. Around March of that year, the American post-rock band Caspian, and And So I Watch You From Afar, a post-rock band from Northern Ireland, came to the Philippines. Patrick and I watched the show and we thought of forming a band since we both liked the same music.

We got Rjay in the band after I let him listen to Mogwai during a camping trip for school in Mt. Makiling. Felix came in a bit later -- he was a year lower than me in high school back in Davao, and when I found out that he was moving here for college, I called him up and asked him if he were interested in joining the band. He was glad to join, of course.

Inspirations and Influences
Individually, we're all coming from different musical backgrounds, but as a band, aside from our favorite post-rock/instrumental bands such as This Will Destroy You, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Caspian, our influences are pretty diverse. We enjoy metal and its subgenres, especially black metal from the likes of Wolves in the Throne Room, doom metal with the likes of Electric Wizard, and sludge metal with the likes of Sumac and Isis.

We also enjoy drone music and ambient music, with bands such as Bohren & der Club of Gore, Mt. Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and Sunn O))).

With most of us studying music in college, contemporary classical music has had an impact on us too, especially those making compositions in the vein of minimalism, most notably La Monte Young. We also love large orchestral works coming from composers like Gustav Mahler, Igor Stravinsky and Charles Ives. And of course, straight up, more "palatable" rock and metal music coming from bands like Foo Fighters, Deftones and Muse.

Birthing In Time of Need
The whole process of writing and recording the album involved a lot of revisions and a lot of critiquing. Aaron Gonzales and Daniel Garcia from Point Bee Multimedia were very much helpful on that regard especially, and made sure we got the sound that fit best for the album. We also grew close working on the album, and it's very heartwarming to consider them as brothers.

Working with Raphael Pulgar of Saturnine Audio as a mastering engineer, also an outspoken individual of the community, was incredible. Aside from his amazing job at giving us the overall sound we wanted, our conversations in the studio were most insightful.

Overall, writing and recording took more than a year, primarily because we wanted to make sure we were happy with our material, and because we were trying to balance our busy schedules in school, as well as the incredibly busy schedule of the studio. All the efforts paid off, in the end.

Sound Architects' Different Sound
We're a bit more aggressive and heavier compared to other instrumental bands, locally at least. It's a different story abroad. Our music steered away from the whole stereotypical 'feels' post-rock coming from bands like Explosions in the Sky, and it definitely isn't happy like our crazier math rock counterparts.

Their Near Future
We are going out of town for a couple of shows in the following weeks, and we hope to play more out of town shows in the coming days. We're also eyeing festivals abroad like Baybeats in Singapore, or try to get ourselves in the underground touring network around Southeast Asia.

We'd like to get in touch with other communities of like-minded people. We're also trying to get our music out there more, as of this writing, I've been sending our music to blogs and record labels abroad. Hopefully, we can distribute our music in places we can't imagine we'll ever get to. We're pretty ambitious and it's obviously a long shot, but it's always worth a try.