August 1, 2012

PINNED: Patience Dear Juggernaut (Wincy Ong)

Nerds and socially awkward intellectuals are major mainstays in popular culture, usually ridiculed as the peer-challenged, eyeglass-wearing characters bumbling around the school corridors with their backpacks and stiff personas on. But at the turn of the millenium, there’s been countless of attempts to transform the nerd and the geek into the hegemony of the new cool, their roles switched from a social and sexual failure to becoming the new face of cultic hipsterdom.

Wincy Ong, the man behind the bedroom pop project, Patience Dear Juggernaut casts the geeks and the comic book-worshipping introverts in a different light, writing whip-smart songs about girls, heartbreaks, and the awesomeness of being the unpopular kid at school.

His debut album Girl The Impaler champions this generation’s embracing of the hip, geek persona—but one that walks away from the media-represented notions of it. We got the chance to interview him online, and guess what? He’s game enough to answer all the questions that we’ve thrown at him. Wincy has this chatty, articulate persona that isn’t afraid to tell you what’s on his mind. It’s rare to find someone who knows what he’s talking about and yet stands incredibly truthful to every word he’s saying. Well, maybe behind Gary Wallace and JD Salinger, there’s a real person in him unconcerned with the modern world’s expectations and double standards. And that’s something you need to find out in this interview.

1. Your debut album Girl The Impaler sounds like Napoleon Dynamite or some geeky male character in Wes Anderson movies trying his hand at writing about confessional tales on the women in his life. So is the album just a conceptual record paying tribute to the opposite sex or is it more of a diarist thing that you’ve been dying to share?
One day, it just hit me: I really suck at women. I’m completely retarded when it comes to their kinds of social mechanics. Women have so many games, and smoke and mirrors, that a once-prude like me can never be good at. Yeah, you can surely say that I’m no Miggy Chavez or Mong Alcaraz. I’m the kind of guy who would leave a party early and read X-Men comics with my best friend. It’s just the way I’m built. The songs are all- fictional, but are a heady mix of all my past experiences. Sorry, I can never be completely diarist in my writing. I lack the courage of an exhibitionist.

2. The songwriting style in Girl The Impaler reminds me of Ben Folds and a bit of Belle & Sebastian—that whip-smart lyrics combined with self-deprecating humor and introverted wit. How do you deal with your songwriting process?
I realized that most songwriters nowadays write in a cryptic style. You read the lyrics and they’re all just words from a hat; they just sound cool but really don’t mean anything. Blame it all on hipsterism. Nobody wants to be vulnerable in their songs anymore. Most songs are about meeting girls in a party and dancing and being cool. I wanted to write songs that were embarrassing. If you feel embarrassed, it means you’re telling the truth, it means you’ve made a genuine connection with a listener.

3. Early this year, you told me that you’re planning to record an all-Filipino album ala Sugarfree’s Dramachine. How are things going now for the follow-up to Girl The Impaler?
I am really excited about that. It’s called Himpapanaut. Cosmonauts are Russian. Taikonauts are Chinese. Himpapanauts are Filipino, if we ever had a space program. It’s shaping up strangely, now that I culled a lot of influences from the Seattle grunge sound, after an inspiring trip to Kurt Cobain’s hometown on my 30th birthday. I am mixing and mastering it now, and it should come out this year.

4. Tell us something about your new song "Para Kay CJ." Is it going to be part of the new album you're planning to release late this year? 
Thanks for asking. No, the Cj song is one of the mini-songs that I am making as part of "The Road to Himpapanaut." But anyhow, I will be releasing a 5-song EP this week called The Divine Autopilot EP (B-sides). Himpapanaut will be launched on November.

5. Tell us something about your previous single, Joan. It’s giving me Lolita vibes.
“Joan” is my favorite song in the album. Yes, it’s the Lolita song, the token May-December affair song. It’s entirely fictional, of course. The whistles in the outro is something I keep on listening to on repeat. It’s my ode to Gilbert O’ Sullivan.

6. Admit it or not, you’re one of the perennial forces in the local music scene, having fronted relevant indie bands such as Narda and Us-2 Evil-0. How does it feel like surviving 10 years of DIY and no label support?
Thank you very much for that , but honestly, until now I don’t feel like a legitimate musician. My breaks were just okay breaks, they were not Itchyworms- or Sponge Cola-sized breaks. I’d always needed a day job so I could buy guitar strings and Graham Coxon t-shirts.

But having a day job is something I'm not ashamed of. Working in an office made me a humble person. On the other hand, working in an office has also given me a spare tire, which often pokes out of my shirt when I sit.

7. You’re also a filmmaker and your work on San Lazaro proves how versatile you are as an artist. Are you planning to direct more movies? How about a music-themed movie ala Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous or Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People?
Right now, in all honesty, I’m thinking of whether or not to take a sabbatical from filmmaking. Filmmaking is bad for the health. It’s also bad for your ATM account. And as I grow more gray hairs on my head everyday, I am more and more inclined to embrace my old soul self, and get into graphic novels full-time, do my Grant Morrison dreams a service.

Making a music-themed movie set in the Philippines is now futile. Quark Henares and Diego Castillo are the perfect filmmakers for that, and future films can never hold a candle to the awesome Rakenrol.

8. Any artists/musicians/filmmakers you want to collaborate with in the near future?
I’m not too big on collaborations when it comes to music, because I think music is best when it’s done by one person rather than a committee. But as for film, I would definitely want to collaborate with music video director King Palisoc, who is such a great storyteller, in my humble opinion.

9. What makes Patience Dear Juggernaut different from Wincy Ong?
It’s funny you asked that. I think Patience Dear Juggernaut is the internationalist side of me. Wincy Ong is very Pinoy. He speaks in Tagalog and he’s just in his pambahay and tsinelas all day in his room, reading books and drawing superheroes on his sketch pad. PDJ is the Canadian indie musician inside my Filipino body. ‘Juggernaut’ itself is a work that reeks of the Unpinoy.

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