Diggers Directory: Local Sun

Local Sun has been making movements in Manila’s underground music scene for several years now. With his fingers in many pies, he’s become known for his keen ear and refined selections, which have helped shape his work as a DJ, radio host, producer, sound director and promoter.

As well as being the mind behind Evening Breeze, a night that recontextualises the role of the club as a space for listening, he is also part of the Transit Records crew, as a resident DJ and sound director. These musical pursuits have helped to cement his far-reaching tastes; while he’s known for playing jazz, dub, Bossa and sun-soaked sounds, he’s just as comfortable blending techno, house and off-kilter finds.

Inspired by the fiestas thrown in his province as a youngster, Local Sun channels that energy into his vinyl mix, but with a twist. Piecing together tropical sounds rife with rich instrumentation, he approaches it from the perspective of a Jazz bar owner curating one of these celebratory parties. This sits alongside an interview about his musical education, relationship with records and the happenings in Manila.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud Select. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download the mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about why we’ve joined Select.

DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?

My family never really had a record collection when we were growing up. The closest thing we had to that were CDs for listening in the car. Queen’s Greatest Hits album might probably be my earliest memory of music. My dad always sang The Eagles, James Taylor, and Led Zeppelin in the car. We’d get sick of it hahaha. It wasn’t until recently that I found out my mom loves disco and jazz. She’s a big Earl Klugh fan.

80s to 90s OPM (Original Pinoy Music) — Eraserheads, Razorback, Queso, Rivermaya, and Wolfgang had a huge impact on me in my teens as I was learning guitar and these were familiar, fun songs to just jam to with friends. From there I also got into metal, particularly Pantera and Death (Chuck Schuldiner’s Death). The visceral attitude of rock and metal is something I realised was very important with what music I play and how I play it these days.

People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?

The first few years of buying was to really just have a physical copy of songs I loved. I didn’t even have a turntable or a proper setup yet. It was also a great way to fill up my shelves at home. More recently with the lockdown, the lack of gigs and shows made me assess why I play and the answer to that was that I really loved digging — finding music, old and new, and to put them together in some unique contexts I could think of.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

They are currently just in crates and outside the crates but I’m having some shelves built on the way. Right now it’s a mess but everything is catalogued regularly and I plan to organise alphabetically by artist.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

In Manila, I always leave having spent too much in every record shop, but the more unique digs come from Cubao Expo, Futur:st, Treskuleros, Thisispop!, and Play Record Stop. Your usual record shop would have a lot of jazz, rock, and pop. These places mentioned earlier have a lot of soul, exotica, opm, latin, j-jazz, house, and techno. Local online record shops on Instagram have been a hit too. Ohm Discos brings in a lot of Numero and Mr. Bongo records. Rosano records is also a great online shop with great prices.

Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?

I haven’t traveled enough to meet people in, or from, other record stores but I have to say David Sorrenti aka Bruder has been instrumental in diversifying my taste in music. He and his girlfriend Julia would ride with me to the city, the deal being he’d play music on the way there. From there I’d hear exotica, dub, and beat (I was only listening and playing house, techno, and disco at the time). He also had a night called “Sophisticated Shake” at Limbo in Poblacion, Makati – one of the many locations that unfortunately closed in Manila due to Covid-19.

Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be elusive over the years?

P.O.T.’s 2014 remaster and repress of their self-titled album is something I’ve been looking for. “Ulitin” and “Panaginip” from that album are beautiful examples of OPM that fall in the small era of funk-rock in the 90s.

Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together?

Both can be enjoyable, but I do prefer going alone. It’s so personal that I’d prefer it be just me zoned in, looking for something I want and not worrying whether someone else might want it or if someone I’m with needs to leave already.

Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?

I just had this conversation with a friend about digging processes and how they’ve changed for us recently. Instead of checking if a track is rare or sounded avant-garde, we mentioned that digging has become more objectively about the music. If it’s good and I like it, I’ll get it and figure out how to make it work later. It also helps if the record shop is organised already. Jazz, Funk, Soul, Reggae, and Disco are my go-to’s and usually I’m happy from there. Nowadays, I usually check for three things: if I know the artist, if some of the musicians playing in the album are familiar names, or if the album art is interesting. From there I pick and narrow it down.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

It’s huge. For jazz and funk in particular, I’d say artwork can dictate a lot on how the album might sound. Wayne Shorter’s Nature Dancer is an album that sounds a lot like how the artwork looks. On the other hand, you’ll also miss out on a lot of records thinking this way. So it’s really important to look at the labels and listen to them. Though most of the time I don’t have the patience for that.

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

I have some memories of fiestas in different provinces growing up, usually to celebrate the feast of the Patron Saint for that town. I take that feeling and memory and switch it up. What if the music in those fiestas were curated by owners of jazz bars?

It all feels like very tropical music but with rich instrumentation. Hope you all enjoy it!

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

“Ikaw / Hindi Kita Malimot” and “Duyan Ng Pagmamahal” are my favourites on this mix. The first track mentioned being a beautiful mix of latin instrumentation but with Filipino (particularly Kundiman) chord progressions and lyrics. On the first break, the lyrics (written by Ric Manrique Jr.) say: “Ikaw ang aking panaginip, ikaw ang tibok ng dibdib.” Literally translating to “You are my dreams, you are my heart’s beat.” That’s beautiful!

Kundiman standards in the Philippines seem to work a lot like Jazz standards in bars. There are many versions or renditions of the same songs. The second track is significant because Celeste Legaspi pivoted from the slow, romantic style of Kundiman and mixed in different musical styles. There are many other tracks like this but I think “Duyan ng Pagmamahal” perfectly blends the romance of Kundiman, the dancey-ness of Disco, and the rich instrumentation of Jazz.

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

Mr. Scruff, Floating Points, and Theo Parrish are definitely some of the most important DJs and collectors to me because they really show that if you prepare enough and have knowledge of the records you have, you can make any kind of music fit and bring your audiences on journeys they’ve never been to.

Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

My neighbour Gaby (who goes by the name Greta) lent me one of the records for this mix. She’s someone just getting used to the technicalities of playing, but her taste is unique as she already has an idea of what her style is. It’s a lot of disco but it’s highly individual to her.

TJ Reyes is also a selector who’s been finding his style recently. Growing up, he played lots of drums and now you can really hear that signature coming out in his sets. His mixes are filled with percussion and are addictively danceable.

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?

With Transit Records, we’re building a big stereo sound system for when things are safer again. That’s when we’ll start having our Evening Breeze parties back again.

Hank Crawford – Wildflower
Yusef Laten – Buddy and Lou
Nerio – (An Evening In) Luzon
Maranao Woman – Lullaby
Wayne Shorter – Ponte De Areia
Pilita Corrales – Kapantay Ay Langit
Eddie Munji – Bahay Kubo
Grover Washington Jr. – Bright Moments
Terumasa Hino – City Connection
Ruben Blades / Fania All Stars – Juan Pachanga
Massada – Nena
Grover Washington Jr. – The Answer In Your Eyes
Joe Cruz and The Cruzettes – Ikaw / Hindi Kita Malimot
Robson Jorge and Lincoln Olivetti – Eva
Celeste Legaspi – Duyan Ng Pagmamahal
Kalinga Group – Group Singing with Gongs
Santana – Soul Sacrifice
Sabu Martinez – My Christina
Tadao Hayashi – Dahil Sa Isang Bulaklak
Boyfriends – Oras-Oras

Photos by: Sonny Thakur.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud Select. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download the mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about why we’ve joined Select.

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