During the resurgence of Filipino music in the mid-2010s, the growing interest in the local gig scene was a significant factor in the genre’s renewed popularity with younger generations. Production houses like Red Ninja and Raccoon Productions were at the top of their game during this period, often hosting events at least twice a week at beloved spaces like Route 196, Saguijo, and Mow’s.
Despite having differing day jobs by day, dozens (if not hundreds) of local musicians made the gig scene a significant part of their livelihoods at night. It was a labor of art, passion, and commitment, signifying the importance music played in their lives. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, the state of the local music scene was changed in several ways.
Yet, as history has foretold, a new cycle rises from the rubble of every disaster. Enter SYQL (pronounced sai · kl) Productions — a unique and fresh-faced name in the Philippine production scene. Conceived from the minds of Ninna Layug, Renzo Lumanog, and Sofia Abrogar (all members of the indie alt-pop group Any Name’s Okay), the origins of SYQL came from a shared understanding of how much the local music industry has drastically changed.
Conceptualizing A New Show For A Changed Scene
“Nowadays, genres and show types have been segmented wherein most pop-focused bands only go together, rock and punk scenes only play at certain venues where their audiences can mosh around, unlike before where you can discover all artists from all genres played at a single venue,” says Lumanog.
To the SYQL team, this new norm hindered attendees from experiencing the joys of discovering new music. As much as these shows catered to what the fans were expecting, Lumanog, Abrogar, and Layug wanted to find ways to bridge the dissonance between adhering to fan demand and introducing new artists to audiences. Layug adds, “At some point, it was frustrating seeing as if artists were restricted to being around the same people. There was no one who could bridge the gap between genres, so we felt the need to launch a series of shows unrelated to a specific band or scene.”
Rekindling that sense of discovery became the core of how the team curates their shows. It was the culmination of everything they’d loved and learned from the previous shows they’d experienced — both as performers and attendees — over six years in the scene.
As expected, highlighting a varied set of artists from different sides of the industry in a single lineup was a challenge. This led the team to adopt a mini-festival format that also integrated a roster of merchants and illustrators in line with the creative vision they have for their productions. In their own unique way, SYQL is expanding what fans can expect from your friendly neighborhood gig.
Their first event earlier this January, appropriately titled New Year, New Scene, was a massive success that garnered praises from industry insiders, musicians, artists, and audiences alike. Despite some initial and internal worries, the team pulled it off, solidifying an excellent start for their production company.
“We have always enjoyed producing our shows for our band, Any Name’s Okay, but receiving all this great feedback after our first show, it cemented in our heads that we wanted to take the production to a higher level,” says Abrogar.
For The Love Of Music and Its Fans
Across 2023 so far, SYQL has already produced eight full-blown productions. As their presence grows, every announcement is met with eagerness and excitement from fans, artists, illustrators, and businesses. “So much has happened over the past nine months; it’s kind of crazy. It’s overwhelming to see how supportive the audience is and fulfilling that we get to elevate the gig experience for everyone,” Layug mentions.
In less than a year, SYQL have already made good on their promise to provide a multi-layered experience that not only caters to a wide range of music fans and creatives but also guarantees an incredible time.
“We did not expect SYQL to garner this tight-knit community this quickly within the industry,” says Lumanog. “People who perform or come to a SYQL gig come from all backgrounds — you can even see it in how they dress and express themselves. And sometimes, we notice familiar faces from our first show up ’til now.”
Of course, doing what Ninna, Renzo, and Sofia have with SYQL Productions is no easy feat; but to them, it’s a challenge definitely worth taking on. “If you are true to a goal and you can present something unique, which we try to do at SYQL, people will show up and back you in a way you may have never thought,” says Abrogar.
For The Future of OPM and Its Gig Scene
With everything SYQL has achieved in such a short time, it offers a promising glimpse of the future state of the gig scene and Filipino music industry at large. In Lumanog’s words, “The Philippine gig scene has had its share of blows, but when you look across the show and digital landscape, it is still alive and well — I would argue even more in the past year.”
Though the pandemic has changed several things over the past years, not all change was for the worse. “Doing SYQL shows and productions is extremely fun and fulfilling for all parties involved, but in the bigger picture, we hope we are changing the industry for the better,” says the SYQL team.