Members: Aned Samson (rhythm guitar), Dan Buenafe (bass guitar), Frankie Torres (vocalist), Jedd Ivan Manjares (drums), Jian Manjares (guitar)
Genre: Pop Rock Fusion
Hometown, home country: Manila, Philippines.
The decision who should become Artist of the Month for November 2015 generated furious discussions at the Global Rockstar headquarters… so furious that one of the founders had to put his foot down and finalize the decision for everybody.
Here are his epic words:
“Leute! Stories Told!! So eine geile Mucke!!” / (translation: “People! Stories Told!! Such cool music!”)
STORIES TOLD is a young band from Manila, Philippines, that is experiencing a quick change of wind… after the release of their first single Surprise Me they have found their unique sound and it looks like the audience is responding enthusiastically.
Their second single Elephant in the Room (Make a Move) was released before the intended date especially to participate in Global Rockstar 2015. Stories Told won the Philipino National Pre-selections and are now participating in the Global Finals.
Save the date: Stories Told will release their 4-track EP Eponymous on January 30, 2016!
They are already working on a new full album as well and are halfway done with it in terms of composing. So who knows, maybe you can listen to their debut album sooner than you think!
When and why did you start making music?
Aned: At college, I was 17 years old. To compensate for all the creativity that I couldn’t share during high school, I guess.
My music is driven by my emotions, the riffs/lyrics I come up with are in accordance with my own feelings. When I am alone and I’m doing absolutely nothing, I tend to overthink a lot – that’s how it works for me, at least. And as I think, all those feelings – happiness, sadness, anger, love… all ball up in me and then come out – shouting, softly, tough, whatever – from my guitar.
Dan: After years of un-inspiration playing the piano I decided to take up the bass. It was a mix of curiosity and constant exposure to 90s Seattle grunge, experimental pop, and funk rock.
Jedd: I started making music because I felt that I had to do it. I felt that this was for me. I tried doing sports and other stuff, but music just chose me and I became its slave.
Jian: I started playing the piano when I was in pre-school but that quickly faded away. Then, I picked up the violin when I was in elementary school and after a few years I was actually very competent. But then I got the chance to watch a live gig and I couldn’t stop staring at the guitarist! I wanted to do what he was doing! Violin was fun but very frustrating for me. I couldn’t improvise, I couldn’t do my own thing! Making music with your friends is much more fun than concentrating on sheet music and reading notes, right? I wanted to be a guitarist and play in a band after watching that gig! Many, many years later and here we are.
Frankie: My mum’s very musical, so she exposed me to a ton of music very early—the music I listened to as an infant were Beatles for Babies and stuff like that. I took voice lessons pretty young as well and did the usual stuff like choir and kiddie theater until, as a thirteen year old, I discovered the local acoustic-rock scene and fell in love with the sound and the stories. I wanted to be in a band after that, but it took seven years and dashed musical theater dreams before it actually happened. Can you imagine that I auditioned for the latest West End Miss Saigon?!
I’m glad I’ve found Stories Told, because it’s been amazing ever since.
How did Stories Told come together as a band?
Frankie: We met in university, when the school’s org, REVERB Music Productions, decided to put together a charity album of Christmas songs to fund the Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts. I was recruited by Jian to help with a pop-rock rendition of the hymn Joyful Joyful. A few days after we wrapped recording, Jian contacted me, and a few weeks later the Joyful Joyful crew – at this point still nameless – was cooped up in what we now call the LoudLab home studio listening to the eclectic mix of rock and indie that brothers Jedd and Jian had amassed over the years, working out our sound.
Dan: Yes! Then we found our chemistry and decided it was worth something sticking by and pursuing.
Jedd: … and one morning my brother Jian woke me up and said “you are our drummer”!!
Have you already earned money with your music?
Jian: Stories Told doesn’t have any paid gigs yet. Besides most of us are still at university. But I hope that changes soon!
Is it a problem?
Dan: Not really, considering how much work there still is to do.
Frankie: This probably sounds really pretentious but I didn’t actually enter music for the money. When we started as a band the first advice I got was to not quit my day job, because the pressure to produce music that sold could possibly kill my creative juices. And I think, with the sort of obsessive, perfectionist personality I have, that was good advice. So I have a job at a great company that understands music is what I consider my real career, and that (as counter-intuitive as it sounds) I work to support that career. So no, it’s not a problem. I’m just happy we get to tell stories and connect with people and have a lot of fun.
Live or studio, what suits you best?
Jian: I love both! The studio is a very controlled environment. You get to control everything about the sound so when people hear the output, it’s how you designed them to hear it. It also requires a ton of discipline. There’s not much room for improvising so you really have to know your parts. You have to be able to play the same part consistently and perfectly. Otherwise, the mistakes will definitely show!
Live, on the other hand, is very spontaneous. You feed of the energy of the crowd and when you’re in the zone, you’ll be surprised with how good your improvised lines are. You tend to play so much better because you’re enjoying the moment. Plus your mistakes won’t be as pronounced, haha.
Dan: Yeah… nothing beats the rush of playing live. Hearing my bass guitar thumping along with the drums really gets my blood going.
Frankie: I’m still a musical theater kid at heart, so there’s nothing quite like that rush of nerves and adrenalin you get when stepping on a big stage.
Jedd: On stage I just love everything. From the moment the first note or beat is played, there is a certain feeling I get which changes my attitude on stage.
Your favorite part of music production
Dan: Rehearsing is the most fun for me because its usually where we all brainstorm for improvements and take the song being played to its next phase.
Frankie: The LoudLab jam sessions (practice sessions at the home studio) that end up becoming our songs are probably the most fun. There’s a lot of laughing and eating junk food and rolling around on the floor banging my head into the foam wall trying to come up with lyrics. It’s stressful, but it’s happy stress.
Jedd: My favorite part of music production is during song composition. When someone says “guys guys guys, I have a new song”! This is when the game changes. Everyone will hear the idea – then we get hyped up during the jamming session because we know that this song needs to be heard.
Jian: Tracking! Producing a song is like a puzzle in my opinion. After composing the song, you get to know more about your own song more once you start tracking. I call it “cracking the song”; like cracking a case wide open. Like a jigsaw puzzle, you have to sit down and figure out the arrangement – what instruments work best and how those instruments work together/complement each other. Like this one song we’re producing now. It started out as an upbeat acoustic track with a beatbox. It didn’t sound quite right. Now it features a massive slowdown in tempo and a full-fledged (midi-programmed) orchestra. It sounds miles apart!
The lowest moment of your career
Aned: Once we had the most wrong gig ever – people wanted hard rock music but we didn’t know!
Dan: When I had to leave the band for a while in order to focus on my studies along with personal and family issues.
Frankie: We hit a rough patch near the one year mark of the band, a point when I think all of us weren’t satisfied with the sound we had but were sort of stubborn and trying to stick with it while not being honest about what we really enjoyed. I think that was probably the darkest time because at that point making music felt incredibly lonely and more like work than art… but then we ended up making Surprise Me and that sort of became the watershed moment for Stories Told. That song pretty much saved the band!
(Note: you can listen to Surprise Me on Stories Told Global Rockstar Artist Profile.)
Jedd: This was during grade school and high school when I never found a band to share my music with. There was a certain music org in high school that rejected me which made me feel left out and thinking what do I have to do more to improve myself?!
Jian: Stories Told is still very new so there’s not much to draw from. But the lowest moment would definitely have to go to the time when we almost disbanded. Coming from very different backgrounds, the “growing pains” almost became too much. It was very difficult to reconcile our musical differences. But we all learned from that experience and we’re all synced, musically speaking.
The highest moment of your career so far
Aned: Having released two new singles!
Dan: The release of our singles and taking part in different musical communities!
Frankie: Production for the Elephant In The Room’s music video. It’s honestly the most personal song on the EP, at least for me, and I was sort of terrified it wouldn’t connect—we got a lot of initial comments that the song had no “hook,” so to speak, but we kept working through it anyway. And on the day we shot the video, I remember one of the crew told me that she’d been listening to the song over and over because she totally understood that feeling, she’d been there. That was it for me—it felt like we’d done something that mattered.
Jedd: During college when Stories Told went uphill. We were joining and playing in a lot of gigs and music fests.
Jian: I can’t pinpoint one highest moment because the moments I always think of have a common denominator – knowing that our songs are being appreciated by a lot of people. Being featured as Global Rockstar’s AOTW is top of that list. With the amount of good stuff on Global Rockstar, being featured as AOTW and maybe becoming AOTM is definitely a story to tell. Can I give a shout out to Alessiee? I just heard their track and it gave me more ideas! Haha!
(Note: You laugh, Jian, but we are immensely proud that artists from Moscow, Russia, influenced a band at the other end of the world through Global Rockstar!! Maybe this is our story to tell!)
I’m just really overjoyed by the fact that people enjoy listening to the stuff I, along with my band mates, create in my room – whether it’s a mix off my laptop or a guitar riff that started out on my very first guitar. The music’s come a long way and I’m very proud of that.
Where would you like to live, musically speaking?
Dan: Personally, Paris or London.
Jedd: Australia, I love their Tim Tams – it inspired a Stories Told song. Or England.
Frankie: I can’t really see myself leaving the Philippines on the long-term, but I’d like to go on tour with the band, maybe do extended stays in, like, the UK, Australia, the US… I also lived in Brazil for two months and I’d like to go back because the music of that country is so unique.
Jian: It’s a close tossup between Los Angeles and London but I’d have to give it to LA. Music is everywhere in that place. I could hang out in music stores all day and spend the night watching my idols. Just imagine: “Hey! Vinnie Colauiouta’s at the House of Blues tonight. Shall we?!”. It’s a pretty awesome scenario. I can imagine the environment being very conducive to one’s creativity. Plus, I hear that opportunities are everywhere.
Aned: Anywhere. Probably a house with my own rehearsing and recording studio.
Where would you like to play a gig?
Aned: On a stage where thousands of people are watching us and just chanting our band name as they are expecting us to go to that stage give them the best show they could possibly have!
Frankie: An international music festival! Any major music festival would do, Rock in Rio, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury…
Dan: Or the Reading Festival!
Jian: And it must be an outdoor music festival! BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, iTunes Music Festival or iHeartRadio Festival would be the dream.
Jedd: Definitely the iTunes Music Festival!! I would love to meet all the artists and playing alongside with them!
Your idea of a perfect gig
Aned: Everyone singing to our songs and just feeling it.
Dan: Open venue under the night sky with everyone just having a good time and the band playing like we’ve never played before
Frankie: Really fond of the whole outdoor, music festival, arena vibe, where the people are laughing and dancing and having fun and you get to be part of that energy.
Jedd: Sold out outdoor gig under the stars. Everyone singing, my band mates having so much fun, and a lot of food stalls so the band gets to eat after!
Jian: It’s all about having the time of your life – both for you and the crowd, no matter the size.
At a music festival and everyone is singing along to your songs. It shows that everyone appreciates your craft and are having the time of their lives because of it.
Or in a small utterly packed bar. Crowds can get crazy but, like the first one, everyone’s having a real good time.
Lastly, in a living room, playing a very intimate acoustic set. There’s a certain charm to it. It makes for a very memorable experience for everyone.
Your idea of a disastrous gig
Frankie: Getting rained out during an outdoor gig. Fun fact: it’s a true story! Pretty disastrous, but also extremely fun in a way…
Dan: Not having the heart to play with passion and deliver to the audience
Aned: …and getting kicked out of a gig mid song!!
Jedd: Or when there is little or no audience at all…
Jian: Or when people expect the band to be a jukebox! I don’t understand why people expect you to play covers, straight-up covers! They really should just play the original song over the loudspeakers!!
Your favorite outfit for a gig
Aned: Casual, as long as we wear Chucks!
Jian: Chucks! Then jeans and a button down long-sleeved shirt.
Anything other than Chucks? 😛
Frankie: A loose t-shirt/tank top, skinny jeans, and biker boots. I also keep trying to get curly hair for a gig but I always end up sweating the curls out before we go on stage!
Dan: In the past it would be plaid, but now… anything that would suit my mood!
Your favorite music instrument (besides yours)
Aned (who plays the guitar): The bass guitar.
Dan (who plays the bass): Rhythm guitar, as a former piano player its almost identical to the bass in my opinion.
Frankie (the singer): I actually sort of want to learn them all, but I’m not gifted in that area. Right now I’m obsessed with bass/drums, though. I feel the bass especially is extremely underrated.
Jedd (who plays the drums): It has to be the guitar since this is where I help the band in song composition.
Jian (who plays the guitar): The synthesizer.
The most musical natural sound
Aned: Birds chirping!
Dan: The sound of wind going through bamboo trees or the roaring of a waterfall!
Frankie: Cliché answer, but rain! The sort of monsoon mild downpour you get a lot in the Philippines…
Jedd: The waves on the beach while you enjoy the sunset!
Jian: The wind! When strong winds hit a particular object, it creates a very unique sound. If you pay close attention, it can be very inspiring, sparking enough creativity for a song.
One time, I was walking down the sidewalk when I heard the distinct sound of tree branches moving about in wind. After noodling with the guitar, I figured out that those trees produced a B-flat tone. Hahaha!
The perfect foreign language to sing
Dan: English, then French.
Jian: Portuguese. I’m listening to this band called D.A.M.A and their song As Vezes. It’s like the acoustic guitar was made for the Portuguese language!
Frankie: Filipino. Not because I’m biased, but because I’m fascinated by how the words really sound like what they mean, and there’s sort of an internal music in my mother tongue!
Which works are you most proud of?
Dan: Our released singles, Surprise Me and Elephant in the Room. After several months of hard work they were finally finished!
Frankie: Elephant In The Room, hands down, and a slow track that we’re working on but that I can’t say too much about yet…
Jedd: Surprise Me! This was to be the first ever song I helped compose (the intro). Anything Stories Told related is something I am very proud of.
Jina: This charity Christmas album I produced called Christmas Is. It may not be as successful in reaching a wide audience as Stories Told’s songs, but it holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first time the members of Stories Told got together. I also got hospitalized from working on it really hard. But it was well worth it.
Aned: I am proud of the works of all emerging artists in the Philippines in the indie scene. As they are the ones who made it possible with minimal help.
What is he most important skill required – besides talent – to become a successful musician?
Dan: Charisma is a must for every musician, to draw people in and get them involved in the experience. Talent alone is not enough.
Frankie: Humility. Which is a struggle because when you get up on a stage it can make you feel like a minor deity… But I went through a diva phase at university, before Stories Told, and I can tell you I was the worst singer then. The notes are what brought me back to earth and sort of helped me realize this was a gift I’d been given. And I shouldn’t let it get to my head.
Jedd: Being humble. You can be the best musician, but your attitude can be your downfall.
Jian: Having the right frame of mind. Hard work, dedication, attention to detail. The music industry is a very competitive one because there are a lot of talented people. Having the right frame of mind helps one stand out. Hard work and dedication are central to that. It takes perseverance to publicize one’s musical works – get it across a wide audience. It takes dedication to continuously do it. It takes hard work to produce a song properly and dedication to do it day in and day out. Attention to detail, for me, is important for one to continuously learn and improve. When putting a demo through its paces, or mixing a track, attention to detail is the most important asset one can have. It also comes in handy when learning songs – what makes this song catchy? How can we say this song is mixed properly?
Also, practically speaking, hard work, dedication and attention to detail applies to practicing your instrument. Musicians have to practice well, constantly to master their instrument, their craft. Otherwise, one can’t stand out. And it should always be so. Because only the crème of the crop deserve to be famous.
What keeps you up at night with regard to your music career?
Jian: Song ideas!!
Frankie: Text messages from Jian saying that he has a song idea and he wants me to work on it!
The Artist Of The Month wins an AKG WMS 420 Wireless Microphone!
The WMS420 wireless microphone system provides a highly flexible as well as easy to use solution. The ultra high frequency system is set up within seconds and is equally suitable on stage as well as in locations where a single- or multi channel solution is needed.
The entire WMS420 wireless system consists of the SR420 stationary receiver, HT420 handheld transmitter and the PT420 pocket transmitter.