In the age of the internet, you get a lot of underground classics from indie acts who have released their material online. In the Filipino indie scene today, there’s a special charm to an artist’s music whose longevity spans several generations.
Enter Eggboy: the solo project of Diego Mapa who has released a compilation titled 98-05, two EPs — Dragzbanny and Spotlight Effect — and re-released the same compilation due to insistent demand from both longtime listeners and new fans alike. Mapa (also known by his nickname DMaps) has played different roles for many bands in the aughts, including the dance-punk project Pedicab, the electronic duo Tarsius, the power pop supergroup Cambio, and the cult favorite noise rock troupe Monsterbot.
While contemporaries like That Epic Reggae Set, Huh!, and Ciudad, as well as artists from dOCUMENTO Records have shared the same influences and aesthetics – lo-fi DIY recording, signature melodic pop, and slacker rock songwriting – Eggboy was singled out by many listeners for his strong appeal and charm.
More than 20 years ago, Mapa recorded a multitude of demos on a 4-track recorder gifted by his brother Jao. In the span of those decades, he added drum machines to the mix in the late ‘90s, released a compilation on burned CD-Rs in the early ‘00s, and has even been the subject of several Facebook memes in the 2010s.
With all his projects serving its purpose one release at a time, Mapa isn’t just a guy who holds a guitar and records in his bedroom. His music transcends many forms of media. You can find it anywhere; from fan-made videos of 98-05 tracks on YouTube and Facebook to Twitter 4×4 Music Chart sharing, Mapa’s project has always been present on the internet in various iterations and mentions. “Nagsasawa Ka Na Ba?”, in particular, was featured on Ramon Bautista’s online series Tales from the Friendzone in 2012, and countless Spotify playlists have included it or have been named after it. Without question, it’s an underground classic.
At The Buildings’ album launch in 123Block last October 2022, Eggboy was in the lineup of supporting acts. It was Mapa and his backing band’s first time playing live since before the pandemic. The place was flooded with college students — a younger demographic unusual to their audience — who were waiting for him to perform. A few steps away from the stage, a fan was holding up a Last.fm sign with a photo of basketball player Kai Sotto and text beneath it that said “Eggboy.” Throughout the entire set, the crowd sang along to “Spotlight Effect” and 98-05 staples like “Sana Di Mo Ako Iniiwasan”, “Lost with You”, “Can’t Let You Stay” and the viral slacker track “Nagsasawa Ka Na Ba?”.
Mapa was stunned by the fact that listeners who were the same age he was when he wrote those songs 20 years ago knew all the words — songs that were brought out of obscurity and revived by a generation yearning for music that speaks to them the most.
The story of Eggboy can be told through various friends and family in different generations of the gig circuit. The independent circuit has been home to many acts whose longevity prevails due to loyal followings, tireless physical merch exchange and general music discussions in online forums. You can hear it from the alt-rock crowd of the late ‘90s, the hipster circles of the 2000s, or even from the goth kids in the present day.
The Eggboy experience is generational. This newly written chapter centered on his new generation of fans can come across as a mix of inspirational and surreal. Fans have described Eggboy’s music as a “soundtrack for the urban yearning and city romances,” and “something (that) legitimately resonates with every wall in the city.”
The Eggboy project was inspired by Mapa’s favorite musicians at the time, such as former Beastie Boys keyboardist Money Mark and his trusty 4-track recorder. Mapa was astonished by the usefulness and accessibility of a 4-track for recording. He also cites Beck’s slacker masterpiece Odelay, Elliot Smith’s XO, and My Bloody Valentine as influences. Billboard Philippines was able to speak to Mapa about Eggboy’s resurgence, and where the project is headed in the future.
“Most of [my influences] were not lo-fi,” Mapa states, “I tried to mimic or make my own versions of these bands with a 4-track cassette recorder.”
Eggboy’s newfound popularity is special not because of nostalgia. Rather, it’s a resonating effect, a staying power that only a few artists can attain. Lo-fi indie rock has survived as a genre for so many decades and morphed into different sounds because musicians can reshape it, break the formula, or improve upon it. Nothing in Eggboy’s music screams the ‘90s. Instead, the music was ahead of its time. His discography was able to create a stage for future musicians who strive to do the same in the present day.
“I really appreciate the newfound attention, and I also enjoy reposting the memes,” Mapa says. “I wrote this stuff when I was 18 years old and I’d like to think that whatever feeling I was trying to translate then for each song is still relatable to these new listeners today.”
Today, musicians get to release music at a faster rate, without the hassle of burning CDs, printing album covers, and bringing them to shows. However, Mapa had to go through all these processes all on his own.
“I did not yet have a CD burner at that time. [Future Cambio/Pedicab bandmate] Raymund Marasigan had one and I think I made the first copy of an Eggboy CD with [it],” Mapa explains, “When CD burners [and CD-Rs] became cheaper in the market, I went crazy. I would burn ten CDs at a time and would sell and trade them at Monsterbot gigs.”
Mapa gives a message to his young listeners who want to write music in their bedrooms and record DIY-style. He also offers a challenge to everyone who wants to go beyond their tastes and venture outside of the box to achieve their own sound and style: “Keep it real. Learn recording techniques, get lost in your project, go crazy. Be original. It’s okay to be influenced by other people’s music, but do your thing. Use your own voice. Don’t follow trends.”
Indeed, Eggboy has become something of a generational indie icon. From recording DIY bedroom pop to becoming a prolific artist in a wide range of genres, Mapa has been releasing music for more than 20 years, and there will always be someone on the internet discovering his earliest work. That, in itself, is inspiring.