Putting the rad and badassery in R&B, Filipino-Canadian troubadours MANILA GREY drifts onto the top at full tilt, leaving proof of their loaded rhythms and pop hooks through skid marks along the highway.
Manila may be turning grey as the year nears its end, but music connoisseurs Soliven and Neeko serves as street artists in the hip-hop scene who aren’t afraid to point their spray gun up high, painting the skies with kaleidoscopic measures and candid rhymes about their hustle in the metro. With one foot planted firmly in Manila and the other stepping onto foreign ground, Manila Grey stands in perfect symmetry with a thirst to propel and break boundaries, proving that when it comes to their music doused in good vibrations, not even the sky can limit. “Since the city is a hotbed for multiculturalism, we always approach our music without fear of taking risks and an open mind,” Soliven says of their no-holds barred approach.
“We just wanted to reinvent the culture. There are so many dope aspects in our culture that we grew up with that we thought a lot of young Filipinos could resonate with. “
“Vancouver is extremely diverse. Filipinos definitely have their own distinct lifestyle but the music and arts really connect youths from different backgrounds. Our music reflects the environment we live in,” Neeko explains further. Commanders of the pit with a tight grip on the mic, the duo calls us in to step into their world through their first EP No Saints Under Palm Shade, which was released last October 13. “Metro Manila developed so much, but people here on the other side of the world don’t understand how real it is in the Philippines and the means of survival.” Touching bass with the city’s nightlife, the duo captures the reckless spirit of the youth in synthesized lines, telling stories of what happens after hours, and taking a moment in time to explore their vicissitudes and contradictions in a neo-soul narrative. “We work closely with another Vancouver artist named Azel North who also produces all of our records. The man is a real life wizard. I engineer the vocals and together, we shaped this dark tropical sound using retro synths and slick drum production with a lot of depth and texture,” explains Soliven, and Neeko cheekily quips, “We just want to set moods and make some night rider shit for the homies and some modern disco vibes for the homegirls.”
“We wanted to incorporate that with some OG Filipino imagery. We thought that would be real as fuck.”
Hitting rewind, we lose ourselves in the patterns of Soliven and Neeko’s musical blueprint, with a good mix of sensibilities for Soliven from City & Colour, Dallas Green, and the holy trio Child Rebel Soldier: Pharrell, Kanye and Lupe, and Outkast, B2K, Nelly, Chingy and Usher for Neeko. “I was naturally attracted to music that was out of the ordinary,” Soliven shares. More than just a pressing matter of synths, Manila Grey colors our screen with a heavy neo-noir aesthetic as seen in their music video, 1z. “We wanted to incorporate that with some OG Filipino imagery. We thought that would be real as fuck.”
With visual inspirations picked from films such as Akira, Blade Runner and Gundam, the duo develops their frame of mind into a sequence of technicolored truth. “We just wanted to reinvent the culture. There are so many dope aspects in our culture that we grew up with that we thought a lot of young Filipinos could resonate with. We didn’t think anybody was doing it justice in showcasing it in a modern way, so we stepped up to the plate.” When reading more into their future, Manila Grey’s forecast shows a bright one ahead.