Friday, July 7, 2017

Medwin Marfil on the staying power of True Faith

At the 90s Live presser at Kuya's: Cooky Chua (Color It Red), Lei Bautista (Prettier Than Pink), Wency Cornejo (After Image), and Medwin Marfil (True Faith).

Medwin Marfil on the staying power of True Faith
by rick olivares

It’s easy to groove over a topic of mutual relevance.

It’s the post-press conference for the upcoming “The 90s Live” at Kuya’s along Mother Ignacia Street in South Triangle, Quezon City. That show features some of the iconic Filipino performers of that decade from Paco Arespacochaga (Introvoys), Wency Cornejo (After Image) to Dong Abay (Yano), Lei Bautista (Prettier Than Pink), Cooky Chua (Color It Red), Perf de Castro (Rivermaya), Medwin Marfil (True Faith), Naldy Padilla (Orient Pearl), and Jett Pangan (The Dawn).

For the presser, only Cornejo, Chua, Bautista, and Marfil are on hand and the four break out into pocket interviews with available media.

New Wave is a talking point and Marfil has a lot to talk about his youthful days where he dreamt of putting up a band, performing, and writing hit singles. He waxes eloquent about his love affair with music. The only things that bog him down are “a bad hangover and negative people,” he said with a dry laugh. “But life’s like that – you have to deal with it and with them.”

Marfil laughed. Even with all his success, he can laugh at himself and his eccentricities. “Songs you write when you’re at a period of craziness, happiness, or even states of concern or even disappointment; they are who you are at that time. I apologize for nothing I have written. I think that when you’re upset or there’s something that bothers you or there is something that you feel passionately about, that is when you write good songs.”

While True Faith may be known as a pop rock band, their origins are New Wave in nature. “We took our name from the song from New Order,” says Marfil. “And a lot of our early influences include the Railway Children, the Care, and the Lotus Eaters to name a few.”

Of the four English bands Marfil mentioned, it is the influence of the Railway Children that is the most pronounced with True Faith. For starters, Marfil sings in that rich baritone voice of the former’s Gary Newby. And like the Railway Children, as the line-up eventually changed and music trends shifted, True Faith delved into a poppier sound; one they are known for to this day.

“Change” is something that Marfil and True Faith have had to contend with for the two-plus decades they have been around.

“Back in the 1990s, you earned your spurs by constantly performing and releasing songs that you hoped would get played on television and radio,” recalled Marfil. “That’s how people learned of new songs and new bands because there were far less distractions and media portals then. So if you were signed to a contract by a recording company, that means you've earned it.”

“It’s different now – way different,” he underscores. “Because of shorter, terminable attention spans and the fact that there’s something new almost every day, the challenge is how to remain relevant after all these years. You have to use all available media – social media – to present yourself and your music. That’s how you know if you’re still good.”

Nine albums later – and with a 10th underway to follow 2010’s “The Love Parade” (another reference to the neo-Folk-New Wave duo the Dream Academy’s song from the 80s) either this August or September – the staying power of True Faith has been their songs. “It is immensely gratifying that when we perform across the country or even to Filipino audiences abroad, people know our songs. They know the hits; the challenge there is writing a new song that they will love and know by heart as well.”

It boils down to writing good pop gems. “The passion for creating music has not changed since I started out in the 1990s,” revealed Marfil. “It drives me to this day.”

Having released numerous albums, won accolades and awards, performed all over the country and to Pinoy audiences abroad, is there anything left on Marfil’s personal bucket list.

The front man doesn’t even need a second to figure it out. He knows. “There’s this show with my 90s contemporaries,” he said referring to the upcoming show at Solaire this July 22. “All of us have been friends throughout the years. We’re fans of each other’s work. To get to perform together is definitely going to be a cool experience.”

“But more than that it is releasing an album geared for an international audience,” he pointed out. “Once Star Music distributes the new album and after we’re done with all its promotions then I can turn my focus and energies into that album.”

Anyone doubt that five, ten years down the road that Marfil won’t be making music?

Now that’s true faith.

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