MANILA -- In the pre-summer heat, Kat Agarrado is radiant in sunglasses, a black tank top, and drawstring pants with an ethnic design print while browsing the stalls of the Legazpi Sunday Market.
It’s hard to tell if this is the same singer who exudes sensuousness when performing with Sinosikat, Bras Pas Pas Pas Pas, Stick Figgas, or her own blues band, who is walking rather unobtrusively around this upscale weekend market. Yet, to paraphrase a classic song, "there’s something in the way she moves."
She brushes her hair back and laughs while revealing those pearly whites. “People do say that I am different off the stage and on the stage. Like it’s not me.” She laughs some more and exclaims, “Hindi pa ako sumasayaw niyan.”
Lest you think that Agarrado is merely a pretty face, you have another thing coming.
This Film major has made music her life. Except for a year or so where she was convalescing from burnout and motherhood, Agarrado has been involved in music in more ways than one.
Aside from writing songs – and this is incredible because she cannot read notes – Agarrado also designs her band’s albums and liner notes. She manages and gets involved in the making of videos. She performs, tours, and well, lives and breathes music.
“The music I make is like my baby,” she coos. “You do everything you have to do to raise it… properly. Or the way you envision it.”
Unfortunately, putting on too many hats can sometimes be draining.
“When I formed Sinosikat, I did a lot; maybe too much,” Kat relates.
She pauses to measure her words. The memory of that time makes her wince. “For years, we toured and performed almost non-stop. And after a while of doing that, everyone began to have their own concerns. When the band started drifting apart and after years of working in those roles, I got burned out and slowed down. I just stopped texting back and shut myself down. Now, music has been my bread and butter. I have never had a day job and I wondered what to do.”
Leave it to music to reel you back in. “Ang pumasok na gigs ay as ‘Kat Agarrado’ and I said to myself, ‘Puwede pala ako mag-solo.’ Then Mandarin (Oriental Manila) hotel was in need of a blues band and I put up one with Wally Gonzalez and Louie Talan to name a few. Every Wednesday was packed.
“And one time, the Philippine Blues Society organized this challenge where a band would be selected to represent the Philippines in a festival in Memphis, Tennessee. We won! And we got to perform there.
“It was a great and an eye opener. I met a lot of people who were saying, ‘We didn’t know you had a scene there. You guys should perform even more.’ That led to the Java Jazz Festival, Malasimbo, and others.”
“I started performing with Bras Pas Pas Pas Pas which is a really great band. Then I also started recording my solo stuff but collaborating with different musicians like Noli Aurillo. And I joined (hip hop rock crew) Stick Figgas and in fact, we’re launching our album this Thursday, March 15, at Eastwood.”
As for her solo album, she is looking at a late year release pending a couple of more songs she needs to record.
Isn’t there too much on her plate that could lead to another period of burnout?
“Knock on wood,” and she does just that pausing from sampling some vegetarian paella at the Sunday market. “You simply have to learn from what happened before. You also have to give yourself time to relax. I also must have time to raise my son, Isa Kyrie, and give him the love and attention he needs. But going to Memphis and Java, you see how you can spread your horizons and that inspires you. You want to spread Filipino music abroad as well.”
And the different bands? Performing with four different bands or even solo allows her to live a different facet of her passion.
Nine lives for this Kat?
She laughs and flashes a dazzling smile.
“You can just say, ‘my ever changing moods’ or I just have too much passion. I don’t know – goals? Inspiration?” she postulates. “It is safe to say though that music… music is my life.”