Though he is no stranger to the local independent music scene – having been part of it for the last two decades – singer/songwriter MARK DELA CRUZ never really had time to stand back and admire his work, nor take a breather in the proverbial spotlight: it was always on to the next song for the Laguna-bred artist. In fact, he was also writing and recording songs for other artists, namely BOYMEATSGIRL, OBLONG, DRIVEWAY TO DRIVEWAY and LIFE LESS ORDINARY, to name a few.
But when the pandemic hit, Dela Cruz found himself at his most productive, as he mustered the guts and courage to record, produce and release a 4-song EP called Muni-Muni which he released in April 2021. Though it was a home recording, Dela Cruz did enlist the help of fellow musicians: ONIICHAN bassist Jahri Adajar, MONSTER TURNED MACHINE’s Tim De Ramos on drums, SLEEPERSECOND/SASAYA cellist Jezi Matias and PEDICAB/TARSIUS/EGGBOY’s Diego Mapa and SUNDAY SPECIAL’s Dedek Mongalo who both contributed guitar parts… through the magic of the internet, the EP saw the light of day. The following year in April, the music video for the track “Maginhawa” was released, starring actor Gio Alvarez and Diego Mapa, and recently in April 2023, to celebrate the second anniversary of the EP’s release, a music video for “SLEX” was also released, starring actor/painter Jao Mapa.
PULP recently got to chat with Dela Cruz to catch-up with what the songwriter has been up to.
PULP: How did you first get into music? Your bio says you’ve been active for two decades, so it must be quite the journey.
Mark: Way before I picked up an instrument, I was already in love with music: from singing-along to my mother’s cassette tapes of the Beatles when I was seven, to memorizing lyrics of Top 40 songs on the radio when I was eleven. By the time I was twelve, I was learning how to play the guitar through Jingle Magazine.
High school and college became my training ground as a musician and songwriter, as I was playing in garages with classmates and performing in school programs.
By the year 2000, I co-found and gigged with different groups. It was the same year I juggled being a corporate slave during the day and being a struggling musician at night… it was quite a trip. Still is, up to this day.
PULP: Was the musical direction always rooted in pop/alternative?
Mark: It was never a conscious effort, but like I mentioned, it was due to the music I was listening to growing up; I dissected the music of the Beatles at an early age, and soon after discovered the Beach Boys… during the 90s, it was melodic alternative bands – everything from Oasis to Nirvana and Weezer and the Gin Blossoms.
PULP: Describe your songwriting process and how it has evolved through the years.
Mark: I first attempted writing my own songs after I heard the Eraserheads’ Ultraelectromagneticopop! when I was in the second year of high school: I loved how there was a perfect balance between simple and complex [arrangements], so it was very inspiring. So I would mimic familiar chord progressions, hum a melody over it and just come up with lyrics simultaneously.
The process never really changed – but of course, the lyrics and the music definitely evolved through time as I listened to more music.
PULP: Muni-Muni was inspired by ponderings on life, as you say. How is it different from your previous and earlier material?
Mark: I guess the songs are simply more personal and intimate – since a lot of the lyrics were written during the pandemic; a good amount of uncertainties really inspired my creativity. I basically recorded the backbone of the songs in my family’s room and asked musician friends to track theirs at home as well. And we put it together.
PULP: As you’re currently looking for new band members, what is the plan as far as playing live in the immediate future?
Mark: For the last 23 years, I’ve been playing with a lot of musicians I would meet along the way, and I was with bands… But with the four songs on Muni-Muni, I would love to really present myself as a singer/songwriter, thus the search for players who would back me up on this journey. I’ve never really played these songs live yet, so I’m pretty sure this is going to be an awesome new experience. PULP
You can follow Mark Dela Cruz via https://www.facebook.com/markdelacruzfb
and subscribe to youtube.com/@markdelacruzyt