Up, up, down, down, left right, left right, MICH CERVANTES got the cheats right to deal a double combo as an artist and bedroom beat-maker on the rise.
Press play and already you’re in for a live-action of Ready, Player One. Seamlessly tied together with bedroom beats and comic strips, her art is lined with unnerving undertones of reality. Acting like Frankenstein’s daughter of ‘80s and ‘90s influences, Mich Cervantes embeds Easter eggs in between the layers of her art and drum samples. With a mission to crack her code, all we can do is move forward till we can get out of this tutorial level and move on to the heart of the game.
Losing oneself in her virtual reality, we get our first hint through her early encounters with television, anime, cartoons and a lot of crayons. “When I was old enough to play and understand them, video games became the main driving force behind all my little creative experiments. My dad has always been obsessed with electronics, so we’d always have a gaming console or a PC in the house growing up. My mom was also a painter and played a few instruments. I remember always wanting to be like her when I grew up.” Like a Dungeons & Dragons set smack in the middle of Metro Manila, she’s living the life of your favorite role-playing indie hits and uses her childhood favorites as something more than just an NPC of her past, but as cartoon heroes reimagined in fine lines and DIY synths.
“I wanted to write something for high school girls who struggled with the same feelings trying to reclaim their identities.”
Paying homage to pop culture, the artist take all these things to adulthood and is nearing 100 for creativity already. With both her music and art stemming from an 8-bit inspired blueprint, she’s got a head start on the game. “Video games and anime raised me. They’re inseparable and permanent parts of my personality. Video games felt like magic — the idea of immersive and interactive storytelling blew my younger self’s mind and continues to do so today. With a medium that introduces an integral interactivity to narrative, art and music, there are so many ways to tell a story,” she says of how she incorporates her favorite games into a perfectly accessible narrative. Playing dress-up with her childhood favorites, her backbone is built on her love for Earthbound (1994) and The Tatami Galaxy (2010).
Like a long lost ‘90s console title, somewhere between The Legend of Zelda and Earthbound, Mich creates her own avatar to represent her in the urban music scene. With a passion so big it takes up all the space in her bed, it only makes sense to conclude that it’s an alien that crashed in her home and now currently lives in her closet. “He’s Bedspacer, and he’s stranded on earth. He communicates solely in sound bits reminiscent of drum samples and synthesizers. I take all these sounds and try to make music out of them, forming the full tracks you hear on my SoundCloud. I think he makes all these noises in an attempt to send signals to his home planet. I’m not crazy, this is legit, I swear,” she quips, with a track that phones close to home.
But before Bedspacer came into the picture, there was an itch she needed to scratch. Taking cues from your coming-of-age films about Catholic girls exploring a blooming love story between them and their vagina, Mich traced the bare necessities of growing up, shaded with all the right dimensions with her first comic release, “Itch.” “I spent 14 years of my life in an all-girls Catholic school, so I was that 13-year-old girl once. We were told how to do many things — how to dress, how to behave, how to become “proper” cookie-cutter Christian ladies. I always found myself having a difficult time trying to adhere to all of these expectations, so I felt awful and isolated. I wanted to write something for high school girls who struggled with the same feelings trying to reclaim their identities,” she continues, “Sexuality was something we were all expected to be able to suppress and discard with grace, which is honestly impossible for any teenage girl deprived of interaction with the opposite sex. I don’t know how the people behind these same-sex private schools didn’t expect this education model to backfire, man. I’ve been masturbating since I was maybe ten,” she shares as she draws a provocative portrait of the inhibited girl behind closed doors.
“Those nice instances where I really see my different creative circles mix always challenge me to imagine all the possible ways I can bring these art forms together.”
But how can you tell if a person is really good at what they’re playing? For Mich, she was thrown into an online multiplayer pit that challenged her to step up her game. After all, playing with other people is an ever-evolving behemoth that births new titles everyday. “I’ve always found it so great that Manila’s creative scenes are all bound to intertwine at some point. I’m an illustrator by profession, but the musician friends I’ve made through years of going to the gigs I drew posters for influenced me to dip my toes outside my creative comfort zone and start producing my own music. One scene is a sure gateway to another, and another, and another, and so on. It’s always such a great feeling to see gig friends at komik conventions, or komik artists in the crowd at gigs. Those nice instances where I really see my different creative circles mix always challenge me to imagine all the possible ways I can bring these art forms together.” While they’re all rooted at one console, Mich goes beyond and levels up with them – this time, for real.