Brisom chops down their process in producing songs and diving to doing digital content

Sound in music changed forever thanks to modular synthesizers. It created reverberations that became popular, particularly in the ’80s genre called “Synthwave.” Fast forward to the 2010s, its revival gave birth to a band who toned it with Filipino verses called Brisom

Brisom is a Filipino band that oscillated its sound in the busy district of Quezon City back in 2013. It is currently composed of Brian Sombero (vocals and guitar), Timothy Abbot (synths and samples), LJ Panganiban (bass), Gynne Castro (lead guitars), and Jeff Castro (drums).

Brisom’s name was from the first three letters of the front man’s first and last name, Brian Sombero. 

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As Brisom reaches its first decade as band, FreebieMNL spoke to them about their progressions and fluctuating reverberations in sound that has progressed over the years. 

Early days of Brisom

Brian Sombero wasn’t new to OPM rock scene. Back in the 2000s, he fronted a band called Menaya. A group who, at their generation, was in line with uprising NU 107.5 bands like Kiko Machine, Up Dharma Down, Daydream Cycle, and Valley of Chrome. However, his band stopped playing. Sombero afterwards called Jeff Castro. This became a new outlet for their talent that later progressed in the waves as Brisom.

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Kinukulit ko din siya noon na kunin niya akong drummer. [Sabi ko,] ‘Hindi ka magsisisi sa akin,’” Castro narrates how Brisom was formed.

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“We have always wanted to play synth in our band,” stresses Sombero, a reason how their synth player and producer, Timothy Abbott, followed. After a few band changes, LJ Panganiban replaced their former bassist.

“Fast forward, LJ [followed] because our former bassist wasn’t present. Busy siya with the other band niya before,” adds Sombero.

Sound, Songwriting, and Constraints

Brisom’s sound is called “synthpop.” Castro mentions that they used to call their sound “synthwave.” Despite its relative similarities, Sombero mentioned that synthwave is the main genre, and as its sub is popwave. Furthermore, Sombero also adds that synthwave is a sound that emerged in the ’80s that would refer as something that is instrumental. Nevertheless, pop wave is different. It refers to adding pop vocals and lyrics to the latter genre. 

Live music production from Brisom's synth player Timothy Abbott | Photo by Aram Lascano
Live music production from Brisom’s synth player Timothy Abbott | Photo by Aram Lascano

“We are proud to say na kami lang ang band na popwave ditona nagta-Tagalog,” Sombero adds. He also adds that while other members are busy, the band can still play with only Abbott and him playing on stage. Even though for him, the experience would still be better if the members are complete. 

Brisom’s first Tagalog song was “Balewala” with their former bassist, Jason Rondero. Writing in his native language isn’t much of a challenge according to Sombero. He adds that the secret in creating an effective song is in syllabicating Tagalog lyrics like how popwave bands sing it.  

Kailangan lang ibahin mo on how you sing it kapag Tagalog talaga. Nasa pagsi-syllabicate siya ng Tagalog talaga. Thankfully, bumagay naman siya,” Sombero adds.

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In terms of writing their songs, they would usually start noodling melodies. Next, they would arrange the track. Lastly, the members fill in lyrics to the notes that they have composed after. 

In terms of conflicts, Panganiban emphasizes their tight bond. Yet for him, in terms of songwriting, he usually goes by learning the shapes and patterns of the songs that they are writing. 

For Sombero, the real constraint in songwriting lies in the present. He also adds that it can be difficult for them to write English-based songs than those in Filipino. “If you come to think of it, lahat ng hits ngayon, Tagalog. Noong early days, puro heartbreaking-centric [lyrics pa].”

Ironically, Sombero admits that writing a song is hard when happiness is all you can think of in life. That being said, Brisom usually writes lyrics based on other people’s situation or movies these days. 

“At our age, hindi na namin kayang gumawa ng issue sa mga sarili namin [para] sa pagsusulat lang. So, it’s really hard to write a song when you are happy,” Sombero adds.

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Brisom is known to produce “synthesizer-esque” songs. It is a prominent feature that brought them to be a staple at the genre that they subscribe to. Their latest release called “Hardin” brought lesser of the sound they are known for – a hard mixture of saw synths and acid basses in their music. The song suggests lesser of their popwave sound and more of guitar based lines.

Of this, Sombero simply says, “Direction namin is mas umangat yung sound ng banda pero evident pa rin yung sound ng synthbass sa chorus. Doon kami bumawi.”

Brisom wrote “Hardin” in collaboration with Rain Sta. Ana. The song is a combination of their synth flavors and alternative music.

According to Sombero, “Hardin” is about a couple who cares for a certain garden. It narrates a story of someone left wondering, of either the partner died while in a journey or have departed for another lover.

He adds, “Ang challenge with the song was kung itutuloy niya ang hardin or he’ll wait for someone else to continue the hardin for her. It’s about kung itutuloy ko pa ba ‘tong bagay na ‘to? Not just with a relationship, pero sa ibang bagay naman.”

Brisom live at 70's Bistro | Photo by Aram Lascano
Brisom live at 70’s Bistro | Photo by Aram Lascano

Diving To Digital

Brisom now creates short social media video content. These days, they recreate popwave versions of OPM songs in platforms like TikTok. As of the moment, they have covered Mayonnaise’s “Jopay” and December Avenue’s “Sa Ngalan Ng Pag-ibig.”

Parang ngayon, ang focus lang muna for the next couple of months, creation muna ng short contents,” he says.

Photos Aram Lascano 
Special Thanks Carrie Barrientos 
Banner Image Paulo Correa

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