Getting to know I Belong to the Zoo

Interview footage by OC-Craft.

As one of the breakthrough artists of 2019, I belong to the Zoo (Argee Guerrero) has a lot going on in his career. He has had several collaborations, one of them being Moira dela Torre, and currently Mayonnaise. With Argee’s sad and poignant songs, one would always be curious how those creations came to life.

In August of last year, me and my fellow bloggers from the Davao Bloggers Society got to meet him in person. Upon entering the room with the media, one would strike him as a well-mannered man as he smiles at us timidly, but cordially, at the same time. He also answered our questions zealously.

Coming from the indie band, Tonight we Sleep, it was still apparent that he was little aware of how his solo songs have come to reach the top of the Philippine music charts. When asked if he’s still together with his band, he said yes, almost surprised that we know about his previous work. I wish I had the chance to ask him about his band, but for that interview, the focus was his solo effort, which is quite a far cry from the band.

Where did your name come from?
It started kasi birthday ng ex ko yun (ex ko na sya now, but gf ko pa sya nun), tapos we were singing “Happy birthday to you, you belong to the zoo” ginawang ganun, pero sabi nila is “I belong in the zoo. Okay lang, kahit na wrong grammar.

Who and what inspired you to be part of the music industry?
Eversince kasi my family is mahilig na sa music, not performance-wise, pero every time may road trip, may music, and laging naka-on yung radio sa bahay, so bata pa lang talaga ako gusto ko na yung music. Pag-apak ko ng Grade 7, nakanood ako ng rock bands tapos ginusto ko magbanda. After nun, tuloy2 nako sa banda.

Who were these rock bands?
Mga maingay: Greyhoundz, Slapshock, Quezo (Cheese), mga OPM rock bands. Pero for I Belong to the Zoo, I listen to Damien Rice a lot.

Are you still together with your band, Tonight We Sleep?
Yes.

Why did you decide to go solo, and what are its advantages and disadvantages, if any.
I went solo ‘coz the songs I wrote for I belong to the zoo are too soft for the band (Tonight we Sleep), so I wanted to release something on the softer side and then ginawa ko siyang solo na lang, at least yung advantage nya is wala akong timeline; akong bahala sa lahat. Kung may gig, I just practice at home. Ang disadvantage nun is you somehow have to do things alone, which is kinda’ sad. Wala ka’ng friends na kasama.

What’s your inspiration behind those “hugot” songs?
Lahat ng songs ko, sadly, are from personal experience talaga. Yung iba naman, kwento ng friends ko, pero nilalagyan ko ng personal kasi hirap akong kumanta ng song na hindi nangyari saken, parang fake kung ganun.

What do you enjoy the most on going solo?
With performing nowadays, gustong-gusto ko talaga ‘pag nakikikanta yung mga tao. May isang gig dati na hindi pa ako aware na marami pa lang nakikinig, tapos kinanta nila yung buong chorus. Naiyak ako kasi hindi ko talaga inexpect, so I had to stop “Wait lang hihinga lang ako.” Sobrang saya ko kapag interactive yung crowd.

If it wasn’t for your music career, what would you be doing right now?
Confident lang ako when it comes to music. Dun lang ako may alam. Average student lang ako, hindi talaga ako nag-aaral masyado. But if hindi ako siguro nagpeperform ng music, I’d probably be at the backstage, so music-related pa rin. Kung hindi man, I’d do something that has to do with art siguro, graphic design, ganun.

Art by Jim Morada

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