When a band takes a break, its frontman or one of its members usually explores the solo route. That is what Urbandub vocalist/guitarist Gabby Alipe did a year after the critically acclaimed band took a hiatus.
It has been expected of him and no longer surprising since his talent as a songwriter, vocalist and guitarist has been remarkable with songs from Urbandub that shaped a generation of “Dubistas.” That talent will just go to waste if he would not consider taking the path to solo, plus the fact there is also a demand from fans.
After much anticipation, Alipe finally released his debut EP (extended play) as a solo singer entitled A New Strain on digital downloads and streaming on October 7, and soon on CDs.
Signed under MCA Music, his former band’s label, the record contains six tracks written by Alipe himself, which includes the lead single “Visions.” The single has been number one on Spotify Philippines Viral 50 only a week after its release. The album debuted at the Top 5 of iTunes Philippines album charts the day of its release.
Music Geek sat down with the former Urbandub frontman as he talked about his new EP, life after Urbandub and turning solo.
What kept you busy after Urbandub?
I’ve been busy with my family, spending more time with my son, Jacob, which I couldn’t really do while I was with Urbandub, with the schedule we had, touring and performing. I’ve been working on building Nemesis Music Agency, an artist management, and video production and events company.
What adjustments have you had to make as solo artist coming from Urbandub?
It’s definitely a huge adjustment. I’ve always been comfortable inside a “band” setting, where I can feed off my bandmates’ suggestions in terms of songwriting and arrangement. This time, all the decisions have to come from me.
How do you feel to be signed by MCA Music as a solo artist?
I’ve had a very good working relationship with MCA, even while Urbandub was still signed with their label. It’s always great to work with people who are very encouraging and give the artist free reign to express themselves and their art and treats you like family.
How would you describe your music now?
As a songwriter, I wanted to challenge myself musically. I did my best, with the help of my producer Eric Perlas, to veer away from my default songwriting patterns that I was accustomed to with Urbandub. I wanted to come up with a collection of songs that would best describe my current mindset, highlight my personal preference in music, and most important, have a message within the topics I talk about in each song. The music is a good mix of the many influences I have. My music is different now as I don’t have my bandmates’ input to help me. I also made a conscious effort to shy away from the songwriting approach I’ve had while I was with Urbandub.
Why ‘A New Strain’ as the EP title?
Because it’s something new, a lot more organic, and a simpler approach to music, as compared to what I was used to with Urbandub where everything had to be grand, loud and in your face.
How was the recording process this time with your solo EP?
The recording process was a lot scarier this time around as I was alone in my decisions like I keep saying. My producer really helped me focus my work, and everything ran smoothly and fell into place. I owe a lot to Eric. In a lot of ways he became my “bandmate” for this project.
Eric had a huge role in the creation of this EP. But we also got the chance to work on two songs, “Paalam” and “Demons” with Raimund Marasigan and Buddy Zabala, who played drums and bass respectively. Those two were part of the Eraserheads, and it’s a huge honor and privilege for me to work with my music heroes. Being a hip-hop/rap fan, I got the chance to work with Gloc-9 and Cebuano rapper Pain-In-the-Neck on a remix version for a song called “Ether.”
What is first single “Visions” all about?
“Visions” is all about having a positive mindset in life. That no matter what struggles you may face, as long as you have a clear vision of your goals, no matter the hindrance or roadblocks, everything will fall into place, all in good time.
Can you tell us more about the other tracks in your EP?
“Ether” is about being lost and trying to find your way. “Paalam” is about letting go of the past in a positive way. “Ocean” is an expression of love. “Demons” is about setting aside the negativity that has found a way into your life, learning from bad experiences, and moving on towards something positive.
What can people and your new fans expect from your new EP?
I just hope they can relate to the message I’m trying to say in the EP. Everyone will have a different interpretation of the songs and how it can apply to their lives. Whatever that is, I just hope they can take something positive away from it.