September 7, 2012

PINNED: J-Hoon Balbuena

After more than a decade of churning in-your-face rock anthems with former bandmates Kjwan and Kapatid, J-Hoon Balbuena returns with a solo project that mixes soul-banging urban music with the hazy, impressionistic production values permeating most PBRB records, from Drake’s Take Care to The Weeknd’s Echoes of Silence. But instead of indulging to all sorts of sonic pleasures that his lush, downcast music seemed to serve, J-Hoon keeps everything somber and personal, careful not to blurry the lyrical introspection with just the lure of sound collage.

Just recently, we've bumped into J-Hoon for a chit-chat regarding his newfound love for PBR&B and the creative process behind his new record Noodles.

Q: Congrats on your debut solo album, Noodles. How does it feel like doing music on your own?
Thank you! To tell you the truth, it’s been a while. I mean a good few years that I have been wanting to do an album like that. When you are too deep in a band and when your singles are all over and when you are just immersed in the limelight and highway, you tend to lose the capacity to create, but to just GIG and rock the house! So I’d say, this direction and Noodles is another little dream come true. Because being a rock personality with Kapatid and Kjwan and all the glory that came about was something I did dream or yearn about as a big kid! But now there is a novelty to create my kinda music without boundaries, and to experiment with vocals and flows, that’s very refreshing for me too. It’s sort like a homecoming. There is a song in Noodles that’s called "Go Home."

Q: Noodles sounds like nocturnal, soul-heavy hiphop music best played after a night of partying. And it also has this somber, introspective vibe that’s equal parts mood music, equal parts sexy time banger. How did you come up with such a distinct sound?
You actually got it quite SPOT ON! Belly good! It’s really a dimmed out soul hip hop sound that I wanted to craft. Before I picked those 16 tracks that went into the Noodles' roster, I had about 40 drafts made: I have enough for the 2nd and 3rd album. But I had to pick those that would fit nicely in the NOODLES box. To tell you the truth, most of the songs were made inside a house or apartment, during quality times or bad times. So I guess it kinda exuded a very strong sense of MOOD!! hahahah!

J-Hoon - U & Me (Prod. By Nights Of Rizal) from Idris Vicuña on Vimeo.

Q: Your latest single “You & Me” has that Frank Ocean/How To Dress Well/Drake feel to it. Are you heavily into the PBR&B micro-genre as well?
I dig that genre a lot. I see myself changing with times too apart from keeping my core soul / funk and hip hop landscapes, the synth sounds, airy ads, fat 7th chords over a crazy and hip verse that really appeal to me. I can’t wait to share my second album with you guys!!

4. Which one is your favorite among the tracks in your new album?
Woooooo Tough one. If I could answer that, there would only be ONE song in the album. I guess it’s a lil diary, every page counts. But I defnitely want you guys to check out songs like "Far Away," "Remember the Days," "Find You" "U & Me" for the next few days. Then explore more of the NOODLE gems as we add more tracks to the bandcamp account. It’s not entirely a SOLO album, there are some collaborations from every artist I really respect a lot, that’s why they are in the album.

Q: Do you have other plans of reconnecting with your previous bands? I mean you’ve been a part of Kjwan, Third World Project and Kapatid to name a few.
Right now, musically, no. But good thing is I have actually been seeing some of the boys more often. That to me, friendship, is more golden than glory. Musically, I will be on the mic and beats right now.

Q: It fascinates me how you’ve managed to fit into the urban/hiphop world, with your previous background as a musician leaning more into the rock/alternative side. So how did you effortlessly blend in?
Cuz it was quite effort in making Noodles. This process actually solidified the fact this direction might just be what I am gonna be doing for a long time. It was something that came honestly and naturally. Urban Hip Hop has always been my cup of tea aside of rock, if you listen to all 5 albums of Kapatid and Kjwan, you find elements of hip hop, dnb and ambient. It is that chemistry that defined the golden days of Kapatid and Kjwan. It was that excitement that our fans were always looking for. So now I am just jumping out of those boxes, and doing what I have always been doing in-- raw form.

Q. Name three records you don’t want to trade to anyone.
1. Tribe Called Quest – Anthology / 2. Roots – The Organix / 3. Sam Hui – HK Single

Q. Three years from now, how would you want to be remembered as an artist?
An artist that made a mark in drumming (Thanks to Belgium Stagg cymabls for making the first endorser in the Philippines. Nike. Nokia. Red Horse. American Blvrd. No Fear. And all the labels and telcos.), good rhymes and good songs that stay for a long, long, long time.

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