Three boys, one IV of Spades. How do Blaster Silonga, Badjao de Castro and Zild Benitez keep balance in the chaos?
Despite their being bandmates and friends, it wasn’t the easiest for us to schedule a cover shoot with the boys of IV of Spades. Right dab in the middle of their Sweet Shadow Tour, we met them as they trickled into our studio just 12 hours after a plane brought them back from Singapore to Manila.
In a different country and playing to a different audience, Blaster Silonga (19), Badjao de Castro (25) and Zild Benitez (22) performed in Marina Bay Sands for Open Stage, a live music festival featuring talents from different parts of Southeast Asia. Watching these three perform as IV of Spades live on stage is an experience we’ve yet to tick off our own bucket lists, but we did have the privilege of seeing them collaborate, of getting an inside look at what keeps them balanced as individuals and as a band—pretty perfect for the month of August (AKA ghost month AKA mercury retrograde), don’t you think?
But before we get to the big picture, let’s look at all the parts that make up IV of Spades.
The youngest of the three, Blaster was always behind the computer that hooked up to the speakers whenever there was downtime. His musical taste is—let’s just say it—somewhat eclectic, with genres that the rest of us wouldn’t dare play out loud; but no one in the room seemed to mind. It was his space, his domain and we let him freely explore the library that Spotify had to offer.
But who else is he, other than the designated DJ?
Among the many (self-proclaimed) titles he holds, Blaster is the “band clown” with his cheeky, high-spirited demeanor. “Pati sa mga lakad, ako ‘yung mahilig mamili (Even when we go out, I choose where to go). [I’m the] ‘food determinator,’” he quips. Zild adds, “Siya minsan nag-coconfirm ng ideas namin kapag nag-ooverthink na kami (He confirms our ideas when we start to overthink).” But for everyone else, he is, in fact, the “heartthrob”—an inside joke that Badjao and Zild seem to hang on to quite often. But truth be told, anyone would appreciate the title.
“Being a musician is now my real ilfe.”
Even early into our conversation, it was clear that these boys don’t fake the chemistry they present to the world. When it comes down to it, they’re friends who just so happen to have been tied together by their love for music and performing. As Blaster says, “Being a musician is now my real life” and everyone needs a little help from their friends.
Badjao de Castro
Badjao, on the other hand, is the group’s mediator of sorts. And while he refuses to be called kuya, the age gap presumably puts him in the position of their leader. And as we go through our interview questions, waiting for each boy to offer up his own answer, it’s Badjao that Blaster and Zild insist to speak first.
“Siguro, ako ‘yung older one kasi tumanda na ako. Mas gusto ko na mas maayos ang mga bagay tapos ‘yung balanced [lahat], hindi lang ‘yung music (Maybe I am the older one because I’m all grown-up. I prefer things to be orderly and balanced, not just in terms of the music),” he explains
Zild, the middle child of the group, is the one that particularly goes to Badjao for advice. And at this point in the conversation, Blaster just watches the other two reaffirm each other—dare we say that there’s some freedom and relaxation that comes with being the bunso?
“Ang maganda sa individuality, para [kayong] Voltes V—kaniya-kaniya kayong role—[pero] ang importante, maging buong robot.”
Jokes aside, Badjao offers up his own signature wisdom, which he drops at the most opportune times. We talk about individuality and how one has to strike a balance between staying true to oneself and giving in to what’s best for the band, their image and their careers. And, of course, in true Badjao fashion, he says: “Ang maganda sa individuality, para [kayong] Voltes V—kaniya-kaniya kayong role—[pero] ang importante, maging buong robot (The great thing about individuality is that you’re like Voltes V—you each have your own role—but the important thing is that you form the whole robot).”
And last—quite literally, since he was the most tardy—but not least is Zild, who Badjao admits is the actual leader when it comes to musical direction.
“Hindi ko alam, eh. Ako lang siguro ‘yung advanced mag-isip, pero pwedeng masyadong praning lang (I don’t know. I’m probably just advanced in how I think, or maybe I’m just cautious),” he says unsurely. We’re left to guess that Zild either second-guesses himself often or is quite the perfectionist. Regardless, it benefits IV of Spades in ways we might never truly be able to grasp.
“[Kapag nasa] bahay ako, ayokong IV of Spades ako.”
And while Blaster and Badjao like to spend time together even when they’re off the road and out of the studio—the two like to get on their bikes and ride around their hometown—Zild likes staying at home. It’s a place he cherishes for one simple thing: He isn’t Zild Benitez, a member of one of OPM’s most followed bands.
He shares, “Ako, [importante ang] family. Kasi inuutusan ka so nakakaremind na you’re still a son. ‘Yun nasa bahay lang kasi doon, walang IV of Spades, IV of Spades. ‘Yun ‘yung pinakasinabi ko sa kanila: [kapag nasa] bahay ako, ayokong IV of Spades ako dito.”
(Family is important to me. When I’m asked to do things [at home], I’m reminded that I’m still a son. When I’m home, IV of Spades doesn’t exist. That’s what I asked from them.)
As we see and listen to them now, it’s hard to imagine a time when these three weren’t making music, cracking jokes and being friends—but they recall their first impressions of each other quite clearly, despite the years that have passed since then and the infinite memories and millions of moments that have passed since.
Zild on Badjao: Si Badjao, nakita ko display picture niya [on Facebook]: troll face. Mahilig ako sa 9GAG [so] approve! Excited na ako.
(I saw Badjao’s display picture on Facebook: troll face! I’m a fan of 9GAG so I approved it; I was excited).”
Blaster on Zild: Kay Zild, akala ko artista [siya kase] inabot ko kasi siya [na] extra sa isang teleserye kasama si Daniel Padilla. Eh, idol ko si Daniel Padilla nung panahon na ‘yun kaya excited ako maging kabanda siya. Sabi ko, “Naku makikita ko na si Daniel Padilla.”
(With Zild, I thought he was an actor because he was playing an extra in a drama show with Daniel Padilla. Daniel Padilla was my idol then, so I was excited to be Zild’s bandmate. I said, “Wow, I’m finally going to meet Daniel Padilla.”)
And despite the six years between them, Badjao on Blaster: Nag-abot kami sa school (We reached each other in school).
On Badjao: Eye-hole long-sleeved shirt, COMME DES GARÇONS, distressed suit jacket and shorts, COMME DES GARÇONS HOMME PLUS. On Zild: Red button-down shirt, graphic printed t-shirt and monogram shorts, BALENCIAGA, color-blocked suit, ANNA RAYMUNDO . On Blaster: Monogram knitted sweater, BALENCIAGA, oversized jacket and trousers, OFF-WHITE
Blaster Silonga. Badjao de Castro. Zild Benitez. Three men that make up IV of Spades. Each one has his own personality, his own quirks and his own persona, but they form quite an unstoppable force. They didn’t meet each other and instantly click; the balance they share is something each member has had to learn how to carry.
There is no secret to their equation; it’s a simple understanding and respect for who they are as individuals and what they’re capable of when they put their minds—and instruments—together. It’s a love for their craft, their unique creative chaos and the worlds that they have and are yet to create.
And we’re just here, saying our thanks and observing just how great a trio they make.
Photography Ed Enclona
Art and Art Direction Alexandra Lara
Interview and Cover Story Adie Pieraz and Elisa Aquino
Fashion Direction Nicole Blanco Ramos
Beauty Direction Cessi Treñas
Hair JA Feliciano
Location Creativx Studio