by Reena Mesias
Some apples don’t really fall far from the tree especially when the apples are products of patterns. Sound engineer Tats Paman and his dad, Ed Paman, who builds/recycles speakers and other audio devices grew up in music. In fact, one of them could be alive because of it. As you read the interview, you could agree with us that Tats and Ed’s story is the closest thing in real life to a father-and-son sitcom we wish we could watch on TV every weekend.
What were you guys doing before this interview or shoot?
EP: Nag-drive by ako sa San Pablo (I drove by San Pablo) for my audio friends.
TP: Sabi na nga ba eh. Sino vinisit mo dun (I knew it. Whom did you visit)? Ross Capili? National artist ba siya (Is he a national artist)?
EP: Not yet.
TP: May artist friend kasi siya who collects din (He has an artist friend who collects also).
So you guys usually hang out together?
EP: Online and offline.
What do you guys do?
EP: We play records.
TP: They have hashtags: #audioporn, #tambay70s, #walanginternet, #walangano.
TP: Me, I just got off a marathon audio session because I’m a sound engineer. We had to release commercials before election day so I finished work at 3AM.
Okay. Well, Father’s Day is fast approaching. Tats, do you have a father’s gift for Tito (uncle)?
TP: Not yet. But I know what I’m getting.
EP: …Dr. Martens.
TP: Dapat nagsuot din ako ng ganyan. Di tayo nagcoordinate (I should’ve worn the same shoes. We didn’t coordinate). (laughs, pointing at Ed’s Dr. Martens shoes)
Since he probably won’t say what it is, what was the best gift given to you by Tats, Tito?
EP: Weather Report record by Weather Report. I lost my CD of that. So I loved it.
Tell us how each of you started getting into music and recording collecting.
EP: The Beatles. 60s pop.
TP: I got into records because of my dad. My very first early memory is waking up on a very thick carpet. And I only found out like years later that the song in one of my first memories is Steely Dan. Uhm… “Do it Again.” He was playing it to test his speakers like day in day out. So one of my early memories was playing beside his speaker and falling asleep on the carpet.
What was your first conversation with Tito about music? Was there a defining moment that got you guys talking about records?
TP: Ever since I can remember, at the dining table, we’d about music, records, who did this, what played on what record. For breakfast, a normal conversation would range from Abba to Zappa. And every day before going to school, I’d have a piece of music on LSS. Because from waking to sleeping, there’s always music playing around.
Tito, can you tell us about vinyl scene when you were growing up?
EP: Records, then, well, that’s all there was. Tapes came in later. There was a record store before and that was it. Life was so simple then. There were no malls. Records stores were record stores.—a hole-in-the-wall record store.
What’s so special about vinyl records?
TP: I think it’s the sound, and it’s the whole package. I mean if you’re a music lover, it’s a ritual. It’s the thing we do about what we love. We ritualize them. From opening the package, smelling the carton, lifting the tone arm, the crackle when the needle drops. Everything you love, you kinda have a process to it. You familiarize with it, and vinyl has that. And that’s excluding the sounds that are like an ear massage. It’s warm—you can listen to records all day. It doesn’t have digital glare. It doesn’t have all the harshness which you associate with mp3s which I also had when I was growing up. And I remember like downloading a 128kbps and thinking, whoa! The universe of music in my iPod. But then you gonna listen to a ringing sound, and then when vinyl came along and we dusted off his records, we played for four hours straight. No fatigue, we had a conversation, music was there. It was spooky. It felt that the musicians were there with us. And after that when I moved out of the house, the first thing that I did, well aside from getting a bed, was to get a record set.
How do you organize your collection? Are you collections merged together? Do you keep private collections?
TP: I constantly steal his records. Quote en quote “borrow.” (laughs)
EP: For me, it’s random. I don’t file it. Before, I was so obsessed with order and system. Now, I know with my heart already where it is.
Is there any artist that you’re trying to complete? Are you still looking for any specific ones?
TP: Too many to mention. But oh, The Motels!
EP: I’m most concerned about quality production; good recording. Not the usual genre or particular artist. That’s for the young ones. I was young once. (laughs)
Tell us about the progression of your collection. Tito was saying that before it could be about the artist, but now it’s about the quality. How was the progression like for you, Tats?
TP: Well, when I was acquiring vinyls, I was trying to take a trip down memory lane. And because of all the artists that was associated with me while growing up and listening to music, I searched out those albums that meant something to me which were John Mayall & the Blues Breakers, Ledd Zeppelin, Steely Dan—you know, things that remind me of growing up. So when I was slowly building my collection, it got to a point of good sound because I was just obsessed to the fact that I could listen for hours. Right now I’m still doing that: trying to complete nostalgia at the same time, trying to experience quality. I have an Excel file of things that I have.
TP: Yeah, so that I can access it in my phone. So when i’m digging, I ask myself, “Do I have this?” And I have a larger Excel file of things that I want.
EP: I could see myself in him.
TP: He doesn’t have an excel file. Rummaging through his collection is an adventure in itself.
EP: Maybe I have an extra file or a backup file.
TP: …which ends up with me (laughs).
Let’s talk about crate digging. Where’s the unlikeliest place you found a good record apart from a record shop?
EP: Usually from a friend’s old house. Usually, in the early days, it’s better to get garage sales.
TP: Well the quirky ones… can it be our own house? (laughs) When I was around 13, my dad had a factory in QC that we had to close down. We moved somewhere. So during that interim period, in the process of closing things down, I couldn’t care less because I was a kid. I was just interested in playing. But one time, when I was helping, I recall a Samsonite suitcase. I was getting it, tapos nabagsak ko yun (and I dropped it)! (talking to EP) Di ko sinabi sayo yun (I didn’t tell you that)! Expose here! It fell, and it broke! Then the lock opened. There were Steely Dan records, and… Weather Report! And a couple more CDs of Steely Dan which cases broke.
So that’s why you gave him a Weather Report record as a gift!
TP: Yes. (laughs) I broke the case!
TP: So I hid it for a couple of days kasi nasira ko, eh bata, praning pa (because I broke it, and I was a paranoid kid). Gradually, I played the CDs in my PC with my headphones at night while playing Diablo. That was one of the defining moments as a music collector because the records in that suitcase that I destroyed, those are the ones I’m looking for now. So one of my best finds was in my own house.
TP: Of course.
Any other rules in collecting records apart from the sound quality?
TP: Maybe records that mean something to me. I actually like that there’s a record collecting thing going and there’s Spotify, too because I preview things on Spotify. When I think I like it, I’ll commit to buying this, and I go for the vinyl record. For me, it’s not a separate thing. Music should mean something.
So since we’re talking about quality sound, for the first timers or first time collectors, what would you recommend?
EP: Kailangan philosophical ako diyan (I need to be philosophical here). (laughs) It’s the sole feeling for the first buyer of the record… not the genre.. whatever fancies him or her.
TP: The xx’s first album. It’s very modern, the way it was recorded. They recorded that in a garage. And they had to keep the volume so low so they were recording almost in a whisper. And in the record, you can feel that. With the 90s, Nirvana MTV Unplugged. Actually, anything MTV unplugged during the 90s, they used excellent mics and recording techniques. For 80s, anything by Bob Clearmountain, anything Roxy Music—anything by that dude. He was one of the star record producers during the 80s. For the 70s, Joni Mitchell. For older stuff, Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. I mean, if you hate jazz and everything that jazz stands for, you’ll love Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue.
Apart from music, how else did your dad influence you, Tats?
TP: An interest in design? I mean i appreciate anything well-made because my dad was a trained tailor so growing up, I was exposed to its craft that required ridiculous amount of study. I’m a sound engineer. I do commercials, and that’s the fascinating thing about sound. It’s half the picture. It completes the picture. You need to listen for details. I think I got that from him. We share the passion for well-made stuff even with records, well-made recordings, well-made clothes and there’s just an eye for details.
How about you, Tito? How does Tats influence you?
EP: (laughs) Talk to him.
TP: How do I influence you? …I always tell him to grow up and he doesn’t want to. (laughs) That’s how I influence him. Baliktad (It’s the other way around)! (laughs)
EP: He’s more disciplined. Me… I’m a free spirit.
TP: He’s more active on Facebook!
EP: I just want to remind the younger ones that the old ones used to be like this. I make my Facebook public!
I like your outfit. It’s very Japanese. It reminds me of Nigo’s style.
TP: Oh right! BAPE!
EP: But we’re way ahead of him. BAPE copied me.
What about the best record you bought from or found in Satchmi?
EP: Yung pinakamamahal kong Scott Pilgrim (My beloved Scott Pilgrim).
I got that, too!
TP: Jack White’s Lazaretto. Panalo yun (That was a winner). (talking to Ed) Your Black Keys’ El Camino! The one in your photo!
Since you also have Defacto Industry, what went first? Music or fashion?
EP: Defacto wasn’t first because the early days was in 2006, I think. Clothing and music were together before. We could see in the album how they dressed up. Nire-recreate namin (We would recreate it).
Who were the top stylish musicians that you like?
EP: Before? Spencer Davis and Prince. George Harrison… and David Bowie. Of course. Bakit ko kakalimutan sya (Why would I forget him)?
Any last words for vinyl collectors?
EP: Last word? Buy more vinyls!
TP: Well, I want to cement what he said earlier. That way before, music was all there is. That in a record, andun gusto nilang damit, yung gusto nilang gawin (the clothes they like and things they want to do are there).
EP: It was a lifestyle.
TP: Yeah. For a moment, for a great brief shining moment, it was all there is. And when they buy a record, they should think that what they hold in their hands is a universal thing of, you know… awesome things—contained in just that.
EP: During the 50s and the 60s, records were more of expressions of your lifestyle, but in the 70s, there came the philosophers or… politicians. Records were too opnionated. They told so much about the environment, the social situations, the communism, democracy, activism. It was all recorded in the vinyl. So it was our internet before.
TP: And kaya ako tao (person) because of a record. Kwento mo (Tell the story). What record was that? Chick Corea? Musicmagic? My mom was holding it. Di ko alam yung damoves mo eh (I didn’t know your moves).
EP: “You have Musicmagic, ah? That’s something. Wanna play it? I have a turntable.”
TP: He was a teenager.
EP: All I can say is that I’m aggressive.
Photographed by MV Isip
Video by MV Isip