No matter long it has been or how far you’ve gone, there will always songs that remind you of a specific time and place. From the very first note, it brings back a stream of memories, unknowingly defining an entire phase of your life.

For Pat Lasaten and Agnes Reoma of Ben&Ben, it’s the same. There are songs that they have long associated with each other and the life they’ve built together, both as musicians and as partners. Even as they begin new chapters and embark on new adventures, there’s a collection of tracks that they’ll always keep coming back to.

Photographed by Karen Dela Fuente

For Billboard Philippines‘ first-ever Playlist Interview, we caught up with Pat and Agnes, or fondly known as PatNes, to answer questions on life, love, and music with songs that they hold near and dear to their hearts. Housed in a little playlist they like to call ‘Afternoon Coffee,’ these tracks define the current stage of their lives and take us into how they’ve grown together as bandmates and partners.

Having been together as both bandmates and partners for the last couple of years, how would you describe this current stage of your lives and relationship? 

This is the first song on our car ride playlist. 

We’re in the stage where we want to take care of each other. We focus on our immediate family unit, meaning us and our two dogs. We also care for our extended family unit (parents and siblings). Though we’ve been living together for years, we don’t get bored of each other. We also moved to a new city and are slowly settling into a routine for the rest and work days. 

What role does music play in your lives now? How has it helped you better understand yourselves and each other? 

Music is a massive part of our lives. From being music graduates from the same school to performing musicians as a career, we’ve been musicians for as long as we can remember. During car rides, we have a playlist for winding down, having fun, long car rides, and different moods. Sometimes, when we have a project we’re working on together, we’d listen to music references at home and in the car. It’s also a blessing that we have varied and similar musical tastes, so when we create together, the outcome is a perfect balance of our ideas. The song we chose here, “Rather Be,” was the very first song we bonded over back in college.

Walk us through one of the most memorable musical moments you share together. What song was playing? 

Pat: We watched That Thing Called Tadhana in February 2015 and during the end credits, I finally asked Agnes to be my girlfriend after three months of dating. “Tadhana” by UDD was playing as part of the credits. 

If there was one song you’d dedicate to one another, what would it be and why?

Pat: When Agnes and I were in college, we used to do instrumental covers of our favorite songs, and this was one of the first ones we uploaded back then. 

Agnes: Paramore is one of our favorite bands and this song really reminds me of her. 

You both have always been unapologetic about your identities. Has it always been like that? If there was a song to encapsulate your individual journeys of self-discovery, what would it be? 

We’ve always been ourselves, but when we were younger, we had to do a lot of filtering since we weren’t out of the closet yet. Even when we weren’t out, I wouldn’t say we pretended to be someone else. There were many things we didn’t hide that it was obvious that we were together; we’d just always playfully deny when asked if we were a couple. We slowly grew more comfortable sharing who we were and our relationship because of the people we were surrounded with. We’re grateful that Liwanag, Ben&Ben’s fan community, was very accepting of us and made it easy for us to come out publicly. 

Evolving is an essential part of any relationship, and the best way to love a person is to let them be themselves in every stage of their life. 

How would you describe the experience of being queer artists in the Filipino music scene? 

We’re lucky to be in an environment where we feel welcome. Even among our bigger music circles, we always felt included and seen. This is probably different for other queer artists from various circles. We consider ourselves lucky and blessed to be surrounded by supportive friends and workmates.

With the emergence of a lot of queer artists like Nica Del Rosario, Rhodessa, [or] Leanne & Naara, we would say that it’s easier to be an out-of-the-closet artist in this day and age compared to how it was before. Sure, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’ve come a long way. We should continue caring for the safe spaces we’ve built and create new ones within the music community. Adding to the playlist the song (and music video) that helped Agnes and I come out publicly.

What song would you dedicate to fellow queer artists that are also taking up space in music in their own way? 

[Coldplay‘s ‘Biutyful,’] because love is for everyone.

Don’t be afraid to tell your own stories. Every unique story touches a unique soul, and we think that’s the purpose of music: to connect. So keep writing and performing, and keep on loving beautifully 

Listen to ‘Afternoon Coffee by PatNes’ here: