Introducing Jett Ilagan, music producer and sound & visual artist from Laguna
“Music has the capability to bring people together across society and cultures,” shares Jett Ilagan AKA Escuri. As a music producer and sound & visual artist, he describes his work as “emphasizing cultural soundscapes through the use of field recording of urban environments.” Diverse elements make up his extensive body of work, inviting listeners to really pay attention to everyday details, heavily integrated with both nature and community.
Escuri is part of BuwanBuwan Collective, a group of young and skilled electronic musicians from the Philippines. Having been immersed in the local and international sound, art and music scene for years, this granted him opportunities to be involved in cultural projects in Germany, Japan and Vietnam, among others.
In 2018, he created Wander Studio for his Artist in Residence Program in Yokohama, Japan. He set up a mobile studio and placed it in unusual settings like the bookstore, community plaza and collaborated with locals to explore how this can affect his output.
Get to know more about Jett and his work in this exclusive Wonder one-on-one.
Wonder: How would you describe your diverse body of work to the outsider?
Jett: I strongly believe that we can find music embedded everywhere in our surroundings. As a sound artist, I explore the cultural and urban soundscapes with the use of field recordings and interaction with people and nature. I channel this idea through visuals and music to primarily reveal these unnoticed musical rhythms created by our environment.
W: How do you integrate visual art and music together?
Jett: There are many ways to marry these practices. Since I have a background in multimedia arts, I often use technology, software and basic programming to render my ideas. However, sometimes I find it necessary to just follow my instinct and simply use traditional media.
W: Can you cite specific examples of your work, which highlight the mixing of the fields?
Jett: Earlier this year, I was involved in a project titled Sound of X. It's a musical project organized by Goethe Institute wherein they invited music producers around the globe to translate the “city experience.” Here, I did a graphic notation of Manila’s soundscape while immersed in the city. I used these hand-drawn notations as a bridge to translate the temporal experience of commuting in Manila for the composition of music.
W: Please do share some details about Wander Studio!
Jett: Wander Studio is a [piece of] work I did for Koganecho Bazaar Artist Residency Program under my solo project escuri. This work was mainly inspired by psychogeography or the study of the effects of the environment on the emotions and behavior of individuals. To examine a place’s state, psychogeographers advocate the act of becoming lost in a place or “wandering.” In a nutshell, Wander Studio is a mobile music studio situated in various locations within Koganecho. This project gave birth to eight musical compositions corresponding to the eight different places the studio was set up.
W: How has being immersed in different cultures—specifically Japan—affected and inspired your work?
Jett: Being immersed in Japan made me realize three things. Firstly, music truly is a universal language. It has the capability to bring people together across society and cultures. Secondly, I realized that art has the power to create a substantial impact in transforming lives and communities. Finally, I realized that music can transport you to places (figuratively and literally).
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There's no denying that nowadays, young multi-hyphenates flourish, proving that being a jack of all trades is beneficial to creatives, especially in this ever-evolving digital landscape. We can't wait to see what else Jett AKA Escuri has up his sleeves; we're (patiently) waiting.
Photography Eli Hiller
Art Mathew Ian Fetalver