15 Minutes with DAMA: Johnoy Danao, Ebe Dancel, and Bullet Dumas
Here's why their concert is the perfect post-Valentine's Day gig.
(SPOT.ph) On paper, dama is a fun play on words, a witty portmanteau combining the surnames of three local artists: Johnoy Danao, Ebe Dancel, and Bullet Dumas. Beyond the wordplay, dama is often associated with love, but it essentially refers to an intense, wholehearted feeling about something—whether it be positive or negative. It's a feeling that this musical trio hopes to capture (or maybe even elicit) in their upcoming concert to celebrate their first anniversary together.
If you're familiar with the local music scene, chances are you've seen at least one of them playing live and onstage. Ebe, for instance, is best known as the vocalist of the now-defunct band, Sugarfree. Meanwhile, Johnoy is a regular at Quezon City hangouts like Conspiracy Garden Cafe or '70s Bistro. Bullet, on the other hand, is relatively younger in terms of experience but has steadily gained fans for his distinct folk sound.
The trio gamely chatted with the press about their concert, the story behind their collaboration, and the biggest lesson they've learned from working with each other for an entire year.
Photos by Majoy Siason
On their concert name, "DAMA"
Ebe Dancel: Si Bullet [Dumas] 'yong nakapag-isip noon...
Bullet Dumas: I think 'yong una naming naisip is 'iparamdam.' Tapos nag-agree kami na mas matunog 'yong dama. Mahirap kasi pwede mong sabihin na dah-ma, kaya nilagyan namin ng accent. At least we're educating people also [laughs].
On how their concert came to be
Johnoy Danao: Isang taon na kaming tumutugtog and then, the lovely guys from Gabi Na Naman productions sent us a Facebook message asking for a meeting. They asked us if we wanted to do a big show kasi marami na rin kaming mga shows sa bars...
Dumas: Nag-Singapore na rin kami.
Danao: Naka-ilang shows na rin kami, so the next big challenge was to mount a bigger show here in Metro Manila.
On what fans can expect from their show
Danao: Everything, actually. Kasi ayaw namin mag-present ng parehong show lang na napapanood niyo na sa bars. So we got the Manila String Machine, kumuha rin kami ng grand piano...there will be different arrangements for our songs. May solo spots, may collaborations...'yon nga 'yong exciting, 'e. Hindi pa namin nabubuo kung paano tatakbo 'yong show.
On their concert being the post-Valentine's Day gig
Dancel: Well, a lot of my songs are love songs.
Dumas: Pwede rin 'yong mga ayaw mag-celebrate ng Valentine's, doon sila. Mga sawi.
On how their collaborations came to be
Danao: Si Ebe, [I've known] since the days of mIRC so... [crowd laughs] Kayo na lang mag-compute kung gaano katagal na 'yon. Si Bullet, siguro mga four years na.
Dumas: Kasi ako, baguhan ako. Nakilala ko si Ebe sa Elements Music Camp [in 2010]. After that, parang naging trigger 'yon ng career ko. Nag-open ako for artists, so doon ko na-meet si Johnoy. I was asked to open for him, so doon na nag-start, with the help of Isi Laureano [Bullet's former agent]. She introduced us [so we could] work together tapos sumali na si Ebe. Medyo fanboy pa ako noon, so pa-cool pa ako sa kanya dati.
On whether they will keep up the collaborations
Danao: Mahirap basahin, isang taon lang nakalipas so marami pang pwedeng magbago. Pwede pa ako magalit sa kanilang dalawa. [laughs] Pero obviously, kanya-kanya kaming estilo 'e. Ang pagkakatulad lang talaga namin 'yong gitara...
Dumas: At 'yong importante talaga para sa akin is mataas 'yong respeto namin sa isa't-isa.
Dancel: I think for any relationship to succeed, kailangan talaga may friendship. We're really good friends. Pwede niyo kaming iwan sa isang kwarto ng tatlong oras, hindi kami mauubusan ng pagtatawanan. Mostly, sa isa't-isa.
On their dream gigs after the concert
Danao: Pangarap ko makatugtog kami kung saan maraming Pilipino, katulad ng Middle East, para mapuntahan namin sila. Sa probinsya, gusto talaga namin umikot. Davao siguro, kasi 'di pa kami nakakatugtog doon.
Dumas: Ako sa hometown ko sa Leyte, tsaka sa Sagada.
Dancel: Gusto sana namin sa Los Baños. Nakatugtog na kami doon dati pero sa maliit na maliit na lugar lang. So gusto namin bumalik, there was this really nice amphitheater there. And I really like Davao. Meron talagang nagtatanong kung kailan kami pupunta doon.
On the biggest lesson they learned from one year of playing together
Danao: There's always room for improvement. Kasi 'pag naririnig ko silang tumutugtog—hindi naman sa nakikipag-compete ako sa kanila—pero mapapaisip ka. Natsa-challenge ka kapag napapalibutan ka ng mga magagaling.
Dancel: Masaya 'yong pakiramdam. Para lang ako ulit nasa kwarto ko, kinakantahan ko 'yong sarili ko. I've always played with bands and I was always surrounded by that, so it's very refreshing to just pause and sing by yourself.
Dumas: Marami akong natutunan sa dalawang 'to. Paano maglakad sa industriya, ano 'yong advice nila sa akin...sila 'yong unang-una na tinatanungan ko. Isa 'yon sa mga perks of working with these two, na kahit hindi ko naman tinatanong, nagbibigay sila ng advice. Para silang mga kuya ko sa industriya.
On how they would describe "DAMA" in one word to audiences who haven't heard their music
Dumas: Sapat na 'yong word na dama, kasi parang mysterious na siya. It means feelings...your emotions. So sa show namin, paglalaruan namin 'yong emotions ng audience.
Dancel: Maraming pumupunta sa mga shows namin tapos napapansin ko sila, madalas nakapikit. It's that kind of show kasi. That's what makes the show a little different.
3D: DAMA (Danao, Dancel, Dumas) First Anniversary Concert is happening on February 19, 7:30 p.m. at the Music Museum. Ticket prices are as follows: P2,500; P1,500; and P800. Tickets are available at TicketWorld or contact Milley Habito at 0917-548-0402.