Undoubtedly the main man responsible for Pinoy rock’s mainstream evolution, Ely Buendia found a venture to somewhat show the Filipino public his gratitude for the way he is revered. That is, by spearheading an independent record label to directly guide select artists in their artistic journey and help them get paid as they deserve.
The label, which started two years ago, is called Offshore Music wherein he currently sits atop as chairman. Sort of he’s gone full circle as he was once a label manager for BMG Records before the same outfit signed Eraserheads to eternity.
Offshore already signed a few acts and Ely himself usually serves as executive producer and mixing engineer rolled into one when signees would record at his home studio down South of Manila christened The Bunker.
“Who in their right mind will start a record company at the height of the music apocalypse? Giant labels with enough cash to feed a small country have already folded,” the great singer-songwriter opined.
But then Ely has proven himself to be a doer of things unconventional. He argued, “We will go where the sound takes us. We will listen and use our ears and follow our instincts.”
At last week’s presscon held in El Calle, Resorts World Manila, Ely happily noted that his active band Apartel’s second album Full Flood debuted at number 1 on iTunes “on the very first day of release.” That’s something to say about Offshore’s flagship act, plus the fact it is the first OPM band with an album available on hi-resolution audio format and whose “Inner Play” debut is released on high-quality, double 45 rpm on vinyl, pressed in Japan.
Yet, it’s him vouching for other Offshore talents that makes his business move more about opening up opportunities for those who have it but lack significant backing. One of them, The Late Isabel, he described as “one of the coolest, most faithful and artful bands out there right now.”
Others in the stable are guitar master Jun Lopito, the promising One Click Straight, Eyedress, and Ely’s well-liked collaboration with Itchyworms dubbed EB X IW. A partnership with indie folk band The Ransom Collective led to the band’s debut album release “Traces.”
On how he and his team choose artists, he implied, “We pick the ones we believe in and whose music we like. We don’t sign anyone we know we can’t support as we have limited resources and have a small budget to work with.”
As he helps other artists in ways applicable today, Ely pointed out that money from streams and sales should keep Offshore going and afloat. “You can track that because of the digital downloads,” he declared, “Then there are the charts. That’s how you gauge an artist’s success.”
The mere presence of Ely is already a big boost in Offshore artists’ morale, especially those still eyeing recognition and reward. That they have the privilege of speaking right next to Ely when, say, inside The Bunker, must have felt like walking together a la “footprints in the sand.”
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