How do you make the sweet sweeter? And heartbreak even more poignant?
For the trio of Ebe Dancel, Jal Taguibao and Kaka Quisumbing—collectively known as Sugarfree—the answer is in coating their songs with orchestral accompaniment for one night only.
Celebrating their 8th year in the music industry, the Sugarfree trio team up again with the 33-piece Manila Symphony Orchestra for their first major concert of the year. Dubbed as Sugarfree Live!, this concert will take place on September 29 at the Music Museum.
The power trio's dream of performing with an orchestra started in May 2005 during a show at the Hard Rock Café in Makati. Sugarfree performed an acoustic set with a flutist, two violinists, a cellist and a pianist to complement the show's theme.
Later that year, Sugarfree was part of the rock-meets-classical music event dubbed Rockestra. The formidable trio jammed with the Manila Symphony Orchestra for the first time, fueling their desire to do a repeat of the "magical"experience.
So moving was the said show for vocalist-guitarist and chief songwriter Ebe that he shed tears of joy and disbelief while performing at the Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas, Folk Arts Theater.
LUSH AND LOUD. And so, Sugarfree fell in love with the idea of lacing their songs with an ensemble of disciplined and formally trained musicians.
The band pointed out that they face certain limitations since they are a three-piece rock outfit and mounting a major concert entails offering something fresh to make it different from their usual gigs.
"You could only do so much with our line-up. So, in doing this concert, we wanted to offer something new and present the songs in a different kind of way to make it extra special, not just for the fans but sa amin din mismo as musicians," said bassist Jal.
Was it easy to integrate orchestral music into their songs, which are known for being sentimental?
"Hindi din," replied Ebe, who was hiding behind a pair of dark shades. "Basically iba pa din s'yempre ang areglo ng orchestra kesa sa guitar-bass-drums-amp setup namin. Madami pa din talagang adjustments na kailangang gawin para ma-achieve 'yong ideal sound na magku-complement sa magkaibang style namin," explained the unassuming frontman.
"But that's what makes it even more exciting, kasi you'll wonder how a particular song would sound with a cello or a violin," Jal pitched in.
The new arrangements also gave the songs more range, not just in terms of auditory appeal but, strangely, even in their meaning.
"For some reason, the songs developed more depth and the feel broadened," said Ebe.
LEARNING EXPERIENCE. All three members are also in awe of the discipline and dedication shown by the Manila Symphony Orchestra members in learning Sugarfree tunes.
"Iba talaga," affirmed Ebe with a grin. "Kami kasi, sanay kami ng plug-and-play typical of any band who goes mostly with feel and spur of the moment happenings. Sila iba din talaga yong approach nila, which is maganda kasi we learn from them in terms of discipline and teamwork."
Is the orchestral collaboration a sign of the band's direction for the next album?
Sounding like a true artist, Ebe put into words the band's common desire: "It's possible because we're always open to experiment or change our style and sound. We don't want to repeat ourselves by sounding the same every album. Just like everyone else, we also change, brought [about] by personal experiences. And we want our music as well as our fans to grow with us."
For ticket inquiries to Sugarfree Live!, please call Music Museum at 721-0635 and Ticketworld (located in all National Bookstores branches) at 891-9999. Tickets are priced at P300 (Orchestra Center), P200 (Orchestra Side), or P100 (Balcony).