MANILA -- A few days after dropping an English version music video of its latest breakup song “Langyang Pag-ibig” (Was this Love?) on YouTube, the immensely popular 9-piece folk-pop band Ben&Ben is doing yet another English version of one of their songs.
It’s part of a collaboration with Indonesian singer-songwriter Pamungkas, who kicked off his Southeast Asian tour in the Philippines.
Both Ben&Ben and Pamungkas performed at the “Gimme Shelter” outdoor gig held at 123 Block in Mandaluyong over the weekend.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Ben&Ben’s twin front men shared that they did two performance videos with Pamungkas.
“We did an English version of “Paninindigan Kita,” said Miguel Guico. “It’s called “Stand By You”.
“Paninindigan Kita” was first released by the band in April, followed by a music video in June. The video, which has so far gotten 2 million views on YouTube, stars two of the band members, who were also the inspiration behind it.
The band has hinted of the new lyrics in their official FB page.
The second part of the collaboration is a song by Pamungkas.
“The other song we did his song, which is 'I Got to Get You,'” continued Miguel. “For both we did a live performance recording.”
It’s not the first time Ben&Ben has worked with foreign artists. The band has previously teamed up with Taiwanese pop star Weibird and Young K of the K-pop band DAY6.
“To be able to work with an artist like Pamungkas na galing sa ibang bansa, grabe 'yung things that we find in common with them,” said Miguel. “Even things that we listen to, influence us as artists, our struggles, ganyan. This collaboration is very exciting. We got to exchange 'yung things that we know, things that we don't know… We like, actually, learned a lot. So, it's a whole process of working with them.”
ABS-CBN News also got to talk to Pamungkas, who shared his answer when he was first asked to do a collab with Ben&Ben.
“I listened to their stuff,” he said. “After listening to them and knowing more about them, it’s a straight yes to me.”
“They’re very talented… they have great hair,” Pamungkas shared his impression of the band. “If (the) value of an artist is color I suppose they have different type of color combined into one. Their music is good.”
Pamungkas has shared a sneak peak of their collab efforts on his Instagram.
According to Miguel, the performance videos will be released before the end of August.
Ben&Ben had a full weekend, despite missing three of their members, who were either down with COVID-19 or the flu.
Saturday night saw them and Pamungkas at the outdoor gig, “Gimme Shelter,” which was organized by GNN Entertainment. The gig also featured other local artists like Aia de Leon, Blaster, SOS, and Mayonnaise.
The smaller venue and crowd were reminiscent of the band’s gigs when they were first starting out.
“If you look at most of the people here tonight, they’ve been in the music circle years, years back.” said Miguel. “ A lot of them kasama namin when we started din. And it’s nice lang na tonight kahit na a lot of things with the pandemic, it’s like a community gathering ngayon gabi.
"And I guess that's why we're here tonight -- to celebrate that community that’s been through a lot but we’re still here.”
While Ben&Ben did start out playing gigs in bars, they’ve managed to cross the divide between indie and mainstream. The group’s huge commercial success here and abroad is not quite common for their genre of music.
Paolo credits their success to their authenticity.
“Be yourself, parang ang cliche niya but I think everyone goes through that struggle of trying to fit in. Not just with music pero like with friends, with family, with society,” he said. “We were fortunate enough to be always pulled back to this awareness, magpakatotoo ka lang sa sarili mo and people connect to your stories eh. And I think more than anything yun yung kini-credit namin.”
“At the end of the day, we can't attribute it to our own doing. Actually, sa totoo lang, every time that we had a breakthrough, we never expected it," Miguel added. “But we worked hard, we worked super, super hard, in our craft, and in writing, in recording.”
Their songs have struck an emotional chord with their listeners, reaching over 1 billion streams in Spotify in December 2021.
“We feel like it's such a huge privilege to be able to. We feel very grateful na meron kaming opportunity to be able to have that sort of impact, involvement, in a way, in people's lives,“ Miguel said. “If you feel like music connects in someone's life in a very deep way, parang I think, irreplaceable 'yung feeling na yon.”
Amid K-pop’s global rise, both Ben&Ben and Pamungkas share the same view on how independent and alternative music will continue to thrive. And their goal is just to put their music out there.
“Naniniwala rin kami na lahat ng artists may sariling calling,” Paolo said. “And it’s really just responding to that. Kami, 'yung band namin, 'yung team namin sa Ben&Ben, we just do our best to keep responding to that calling.”
“I suppose, music is music whether it's indie or major,” said Pamungkas. “I believe that good music is good music… Nowadays, social media and the internet and all that one click away type of thing, it allows musicians, bedroom musicians like me, I started in the bedroom really, it allows us to be more brave. To put out our music and hopefully a lot of musicians see it that way.”
“We’re really inspired by all these acts who are trying to really bring out their own flavor of art, music,” Paolo said. “Let's just keep that spirit alive. It’s bound to reach more and more people. And not just reach them pero somehow help them with their lives one way or another.”
With the aim of reaching more people, the group is heading to the United States and Canada in September. They will kick off their 8-city tour with a send-off concert at the CCP Open Grounds.
Miguel shared it’s their first time in the US.
So why go now, with the US seeing a resurgence of more transmissible variants of COVID-19?
“With the pandemic, what happened was a lot of growth has happened,“ Paolo explained, “Not just musically but 'yung story din namin as a community sa Ben&Ben. And for us we felt that the time was right to connect with people we haven't reached yet.”
And just like a line from a song, Paolo added, “Siguro doon kami dinadala ng alon and we just want to set sail.”