BURIED TRACKS + INTERVIEW: MELLOW FELLOW "MY WORLD"
Now, more than ever is the best time for any artists to share their art online and let it out in the world. For indie music specifically, the internet has enabled artists from recording music in their bedroom to kickstarting their dream careers.
It's all thanks to the beautiful young culture that has grown through the internet age.
Polo Reyes of Mellow Fellow is living proof along many others that the demo tracks you're recording in your room need to be heard. In a matter of a year, most of Mellow Fellow's demos have reached hundreds of thousands of people (via Soundcloud, YouTube, Bandcamp, etc) and all have been meet with great reactions. His creamy, jazzy, tracks are hard not to love, which is why we're adding one of our favorite tracks "My World" to our Buried Tracks curation.
We also got to have a chat with the young music guru about his growth, his process, and his life in the Philippines. We're also sharing one of the tracks off his album Jazzie Robinson.
Hey Polo! How are you doing? What are you up to?
I’m doing alright, just graduated from college a few months back and it feels FUCKINNNNN good.
Right now, I’m trying to fix my body clock lmao I just woke up and it’s currently 2 am in the Philippines as I’m writing this.
How long have you been playing music? Who introduced you to it?
I started playing guitar when I was about 13. Got really inspired after watching La Bamba starring Lou Diamond Phillips. I would remember seeing that dude rock out to 50s hits playing his cheap ass green electric guitar and my dad just bought me my first guitar that Christmas and it was in green too so that got me even more hyped up lol. The last few scenes totally MESSED me up as a kid though.
I did however, start writing songs only when I was about 17 or 18 just for fun. I’m 21 now in case y’all were wondering.
I didn’t really grow up in a family of musicians or artists so I guess initially nobody really pushed me to pursue anything in music but myself.
You've been recording and sharing music via the internet for over 2 years now.
Did you expect any of the reaction you've got so far?
Definitely NOT. I totally did not expect people to appreciate my songs as they weren’t the most sparkly produced tunes ever. But it’s so nice to receive messages from people I have never even met in real life, saying they love my stuff and support whatever I do, like dude that just warms my heart every time. That’s the kind of shit that keeps people going y’know. It’s amazing because I’ve met and worked with so many great people from all over the world in the last few years or so. SO SHOUTOUT TO THE INTERNET AND MOST IMPORTANTLY SOUNDCLOUD!!! Wouldn’t have discovered or shared any good music without the clout.
I started writing songs only for fun but I guess it’s getting pretty serious right now, at least in my perspective. I still don’t consider music to be my full-on career but I guess if the right doors open in the future, it might change. If I make it with music, that’s great. If I don’t that’s totally fine. I really just do it for the love and passion. I think that’s what it’s all about.
What do you use to record? What's your songwriting process like?
FL Studio is the DAW I’ve been using for the last 5-6 years and I haven’t looked back. I record through a Zoom R16 interface. It’s a board that I can plug my guitars, keyboards and mics into. The R16 is amazing but it’s a fucking bitch to setup to be honest. I mostly use my LTD PS-1 Xtone for guitar parts. As for my keyboards/synths, I either use my new Yamaha PSR-EW400 (it’s the tightest shit ever go check it out) or I use some plugins that I will not name lmao. For drums, I use different percussive sounds and map it on FL Studio. I can’t be fucked buying a drum set because my room is too small and the neighbors around my area don’t take kindly to noise. For vocals, I use the R16’s on-board condenser mics that are seriously good or I use my buddy Nathan’s generic condenser mic taped to a guitar that has become a ridiculous makeshift mic stand.
Back then, my songs would start with just an acoustic guitar and a few chords. I would hum a melody in my head and write lyrics afterwards. But now, I’ve realized that I’m not exactly the most talented singer so the best way for me to create something interesting is to start out by molding the shell of a song I want to write. (Write guitar parts, lay down some drums, play leads. Basically, an instrumental). After doing that, I’ll feel a bit more comfortable creating melodies and harmonies for vocals. As for the lyrics, I’d just write whatever I feel during the moment.
What's your take on listeners always comparing music to other music? For instance, I always hear the "another Mac DeMarco copy" remark very often.
For audiences, I would have to say it’s normal for them to compare music that way. Regular listeners need a basis for a certain artist’s music. It can’t be helped to compare one kind of music to another because that’s just how the listeners perceive the song in a relatable way, if that made any sense. For example, if a person who has been listening to a lot of Mac DeMarco listens to a song that contains a lot of chorusy, arpeggiated guitar leads panned left and right, they would automatically compare the artist to DeMarco, even if the playing and the song arrangement itself doesn’t sound anything like Mac.
As a musician, I’ve received my fair share of “Oh your music is just another Mac DeMarco/Julian Casablancas/Good Morning copy”. At first, I found it incredibly annoying and downright discouraging. I was questioning myself If I should even continue because that’s how much it affected me years ago. But then I realized that you must go through a phase wherein the artists you listen to the most will end up floating in your sound one way or another until you mature and find your own sound. One of my friends Michelle said something before that stuck with me ever since. She said, “Everything is an appropriation of something”. I don’t know if she made that up herself or if it came from somewhere, but after that I kind of just stopped giving a rat’s ass about everything and told myself that I’ll just make music that sounds good to my ears lmao.
If you were planet earth tomorrow and you could only grab 5 albums with you, what would it be?
Little Joy – Little Joy
10,000 hours of Lil Yachty – Peek a Boo ft. Migos
The Carpenters - The Very Best of The Carpenters
Migos – Culture / Led Zeppelin - II
Infinite repeat on Playboi Carti - Magnolia
Describe a day in the Philippines with Mellow Fellow.
Wake up. Drop top. Play ball in the court, get my shot blocked. Money.
How would you describe the music scene out there to someone who's never seen it?
I’m not familiar with the scene outside of Manila so I can only speak through my experience in Manila’s music scene. It’s a small world out here. Everyone knows everyone. It’s essentially a good thing but it does have its repercussions. Sonically, I think the scene is growing. You’ll come across a lot of interesting sounds and music. A lot of experimental acts as well. You still have your run-of-the-mill pop acts here and there but they’re rapidly becoming irrelevant in my eyes. The shows here can get real crazy too. Watching gigs around Manila is definitely an experience. I’ve witnessed some insane things happen in one night. I’m quite sure the music scene in each differing country would have its bright and dim spots both musically and socially speaking. I’ve met some pretty interesting people here, but I’ve also met a couple of dicks along the way. Inevitable.
It’s not easy to talk freely about the local music scene. I consider myself as a newcomer and I don’t feel like I have the right to speak about the scene to be completely honest. Chances are, someone from the scene is already criticizing me while reading this (hahaha jokes on you little bitch!!! You probably have nothing better to do. Kidding.)
Can you suggest some music from the Philippines? Only band that comes to mind right now is Bee Eyes, they're great.
I’m going to be as biased as possible.
Ruru, The Benchwarmers, The Fly Trap Habits, Eazyhead, The Fractures, The Gory Orgies, Memory Drawers, Ourselves the elves
But don’t waste your time just search the gory orgies it’s the only band worth listening to on this list to be honest.
You're moving to California soon, what motivated this decision? Will you be going alone?
I’d like to pursue my business studies in the states. Bring back what I’ve learned there and apply it in our family business here in the Philippines. But other than that, it’s always been a dream of mine to live there. Maybe even test my luck with music. I’m not sure if that’ll be easy but a boy can try, can he?
What's coming up next for Mellow Fellow, any label hunting? new releases? anything of the sorts?
I’m working on a plethora of collaborations with different artists. Very very talented bunch. A new album is in the works so I guess that’s something to look forward to. I’ll also be reissuing my album ‘Jazzie Robinson’ on cassette with the guys from Palm Tapes from Detroit, MI. Lastly, I think I’ll be performing live as mellow fellow soon, I don't even know. Hopefully it works out.
Check out more Mellow Fellow's music here.