Bunny Liwanag has been touring Europe since 2012 after releasing the debut solo album LIFE (Love Is For Ever) under Believe Digital Music in France. She has travelled with Simon Prouveze (lead guitars) and Gabriel Perez (percussions and harmonica), who are based in Marseille and Aix en Provence, to share their music to Filipinos and that part of the world.
We started doing the bar tours in the south of France and we planned to do a series of concerts to raise funds in France in partnership with the Virlanie Foundation and other Filipino organizations for the victims of Yolanda and also to aid the volunteers in Leyte.
The concerts in France will continue this 2014 in partnership with different Filipino organizations based in Paris, Lyon and Aix en Provence. She also came back to the Philippines to do concerts with Hemp Republic* to raise funds for the victims and also to reunite with her group.
“As much as possible when I go in every country in Europe, I book concerts so that the time is well spent sharing the music not only to the people living in that country, but also to our fellow Filipinos who are based there,” Bunny shares.
There is support in every country for every Filipino performer as there is always a Filipino fan and worker who appreciates the music that we share in this part of the world where they do not have direct access to live music performed by a fellow Filipino.
This year, the new album features new songs including the carrier single called Never Give You Up and We Gonna Be Alright, which are two of the songs that, Bunny believes, are fit for the times right now around the world. It’s a collaboration with DJ Max Landers who is based in Sofia, Bulgaria. The album also includes other songs from Hemp Republic, since these are the favorite of Filipinos everywhere in Europe like, Fireflies, Sabihin Mo, and Hey Bodyrock.
“The set list in present live shows has evolved right now as I know that everyone has been used to my repertoire of a mixture of reggae and rocksteady songs. There is more folk influences in the new songs, but reggae as my roots and main influence will always stay,” she says.
And adds: “I am also opening up to other musical genres and collaborating with other artists like DJ Max Landers, incorporating folk melodies and dance beats.”
“I believe it is important as an artist to continue and evolve and keep on trying different genres, mixing up everything, and continue creating and not be boxed up in just one musical genre alone. There can be a ceiling for reggae music in terms of musical evolution, and the possibilities are endless when we blend reggae and all other musical influences in new projects.”
“When I am not with the band, I write and record songs and I do meetings with different groups and communities of Filipinos living in France and also with other French associations like Virlanie Foundation, to make future projects to aid the community and also to promote our culture through music.”
We Gonna Be Alright will be released in 2014 and will be promoted in Europe and the US. The video will be released also and will be shot in various parts of Paris and Manila.
Bunny plans to continue doing acoustic concerts and tours in Europe in 2014 and will eventually continue tours in the US through 2015, sharing the music, at the same time, collaborating with different groups and associations who are affiliated with the Philippines.
She also dreams of having all her band mates perform with her in Europe one day. “That can be a possibility as we sort out everyone’s schedules,” she says, “Me and my fellow band mates from Hemp Republic are all supportive of each other’s careers as each one leads their owns lives and supporting our respective families.”
Originally formed at the University of the Philippines Los Baños in 2000, Hemp Republic is a Filipino reggae band, with Bunny on vocals, Tonton Hatol on lead guitar, Mags Gahol on rhythm guitar, Mabs Tolentino on bass, Al Sese on drums, Caio Cadiz on percussions, and Alfred Pagsuyuin on keyboards. Glober Calambro, Arjo Ayende and Jeck Cenidoza eventually joined the group on trumpet and trombones and also Nikolaos Dritsopolous and Eggy Mallari on bass, and Paolo Bartolome on drums.
They look forward to seeing each other every time they do reunion concerts for their fans and good friends in the Philippines. “We just want to keep the fire burning. We may release an album wherein we have all the songs that we have before which have never been heard.”
Written by: Ai Macalintal. Ai couldn’t stay in one place for too long, so she’s always walking, traveling or changing address. She’s been an editor in Singapore and has written for Aussie magazines, but penning stories about the Philippines delights her most.