Get to know the guy behind the name
We first found Nights of Rizal through a recommendation from a friend in the local music scene. There was an event that needed music, an upward trajectory in the appreciation for Filipino musicians. It was an opportune time to shift our lens inward, to feature and work with some of the Philippines’ own bright young things.
It’s safe to say that what we found––through one particular video of a bespectacled Nights of Rizal before an intimate audience, layering sounds and crooning the words “Change/Erase” into a microphone––was more than we hoped for. Call it a lightbulb moment or an epiphany. We had to hear more.
Meet Migi de Belen, otherwise known as electronic singer-songwriter, Nights of Rizal. He writes, he sings, he makes music out of a computer and a program called FL studio.
Migi has this amusing tongue-in-cheek approach that trickles down to what he does, from his pseudonym to how he got his start in the genre he is now years-deep in. “I thought it was all copy-paste,” he admits, which really isn’t far from what electronic music’s naysayers likely think about the genre. Perhaps the criticism and confusion are to be expected when your primary instrument is your laptop. That lack of understanding––it’s like the genre’s natural accompaniment or something.
It’s funny in hindsight, but Migi’s first sentiments toward electronic music were to be expected. The genre was worlds away from what he grew up playing; his deep-rooted history in music was rather traditional after all. He started playing classical piano as a child––despite being taught to place a heavier premium on playing by ear than reading off a sheet. He learned to play the guitar to sate the itch of teenage rebellion. He wanted to write songs and start a band.
A laptop as an instrument? Really?
These days, Migi is carving out his sound––one that is distinct as broad-spectrum as the far-ranging genres that influence it––under the name Nights of Rizal. He creates, loops beats and writes over them, revels in the complexities of composition, performs. He released a full album called summer/salt, which you should listen to if you haven’t already.
Anyway, that’s enough from us. Hear what he has to say for yourself:
Director and Videographer Ian Francisco of New Monarq Creativx
Videography Assistant Bea Magtalas
Producers Cessi Treñas and Alexandra Lara
In-video Photos Pao Manlutac and Paul Santos
Art Alexandra Lara