5 career lessons from Kamikazee

“Susubukan naming ibalik sa aming mga sarili kung ano ‘yung 15 years na pinaghirapan namin," shared vocalist Jay Contreras of the Filipino rock group, Kamikazee, when asked by Rappler, in a pre-concert interview, about his thoughts on their “Huling Sayaw” concert. (IN PHOTOS: Kamikazee says goodbye with 'Huling Sayaw' concert for fans

(We will try to look back on the hard work that we’ve exerted for 15 years) 

And indeed, on December 10, the band made another mark on the Filipino music industry, as they took Smart Araneta Coliseum by storm. Through the set list of more than 15 songs, the concert was a musical flashback of their 15 passionate years in the business. 

Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

It's been quite a journey. So what has the band learned about the Pinoy rock scene all these years? Kamikazee talked about their career with Rappler, sharing a few career lessons and dedicating each of them to every aspiring Filipino musician out there. In general, it's also wonderful advice for anyone seeking to make his way in the world. 

It's not only about fame. So what is at the heart of your story?

“Huwag maging inspirasyon ‘yung gusto mong sumikat. Gusto mong mag-banda kasi gusto mong tumugtog ng kanta mo,” stressed vocalist Jay Contreras.

(Don’t get inspiration just from fame. You must want to be in a band because you want to play your own music.)

He said that if the band just wanted money and popularity, they would have never lasted for 15 years. 

The band has enjoyed numerous awards; they were Artist of the Year at the 13th NU Rock Awards, and the following year, during the 20th Awit Awards, they bagged Album of the Year for their second LP, Maharot. Just last March 2015, they got the MYX award for Favorite Rock Video for the song “Kislap.” Despite the accolades, they just want to make great music, putting it out there for all to enjoy.  

Hard work and discipline.

Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

Kung wala kang disiplina sa music mo… hindi mo mapapakita ‘yung passion mo sa mga tao,” emphasized lead guitarist Jomal Linao.

(If you don’t have discipline towards your music, you won’t be able to show your passion to the people.)

He further discussed that the kind of work and effort invested in each piece would eventually be reflected in the final outcome of the song. “Maririnig at maririnig, ‘yun e,” added drummer Allan Burdeos. (It will eventually be heard) 

Business side 

“Aside from working on your craft, kailangan mag-research ka (you need to research) about the music business,” accentuated Burdeos. He further discussed that lack of understanding that music was also an industry may lead to neophyte bands being misled by some talent agencies.  

Maraming manager na fan talaga ng music (There are a lot of managers who are truly music fans),” expounded rhythm guitarist Led Tuyay. But he also said that there were some who were just aiming for financial success. Because of this, Burdeos pointed out that know-how on music business management would really teach newcomers how to work their ways up the career ladder.

15 YEARS. Kamikazee at their interview with media. Photo by Sheen Seeckts

15 YEARS. Kamikazee at their interview with media.

Photo by Sheen Seeckts

It's still a job, despite the perks

Walang rock star sa Pilipinas, working musician meron (There are no rock stars in the Philippines, only working musicians),” said Burdeos. “Trabaho pa rin siya. Kailangan mo pa rin kumayod (It is still a job. You still need to work hard for it.),” explained bassist Jason “Puto” Astete.

“Hindi siya puro sarap (It’s not all about the fortune),” Astete added. 

But Kamikazee’s sure taken this to heart and exerted all the effort they could on their craft, and it's seen in their albums. The first one was self-titled, launched in 2002, including the breakthrough remake of the Britney Spears hit, “Lucky.” The next one was Maharot, which gave the band a lot of awards and recognition. In 2009, they produced Long Time Noisy, containing the political hit “Wala,” which was nominated both in Awit and MYX Awards. Three years after, they released their LP, “Romantico,” featuring the hit collaboration with singer Kyla, entitled “Huling Sayaw.” 

Recognize the opportunities as they come

At the end of the day, it was all about realizing your band’s worth, seeing the opportunities as they come and taking it with grace. “Hindi lahat ng banda nabibigyan ng ganitong klaseng opportunity (Not all bands are given this kind opportunity),” said Burdeos. And this was something that needed to be kept and worked on, so their passion would not be extinguished, according to the band’s drummer. 

Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

And all their efforts to replenish that passion brought them to foreign concert promoters, Spicy Lemon. The group was actually the one responsible for the Filipino concert held in Dubai on November 7, 2014, featuring Kamikazee, Rivermaya and Gloc-9. 

“Ibang lahi sila pero mas naniniwala sila sa amin kaysa kami naniniwala sa sarili namin,” emphasized Contreras during their final show. (WATCH: What's next for Kamikazee's Jay Contreras after emotional #HulingSayaw?

(They are foreigners but they believe in us more than we believe ourselves.)

He also added that they really could not believe that they were able to fill up the arena and were greatly thankful to all the fans that supported them.   

The “Huling Sayaw” show was truly a fitting ending to the band’s 15 years. The concert did not just close a chapter in the band’s life and the Filipino music industry but it also opened a new door to young and fresh talents waiting to be discovered.

Whether you are an up-and-coming musician or someone just starting out in whatever field you've chosen, hang in there. Heart, hard work, passion, and street smarts will grow and develop even more over time. Good luck! – Rappler.com 

Sheen Irerick Seeckts is a freelance writer who is currently exploring the media industry and the world. You can check her blog here.