Elements’ musical mission

DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda - The Philippine Star

It was “natural and organic, not forced,” the way that the six-year-old Elements Music Camp came together and realized its mission. It wasn’t just to provide musicians — especially songwriters — a venue to come together and learn from each other. More specifically, it was to move beyond the camp and create music communities that will one day benefit the music industry as a whole.

These “communities” are composed of camp alumni who make it their mission to “pay it forward” by sharing their learnings with other aspiring musicians and by producing new material to keep the OPM industry alive. Jun Sy, chief executive officer (CEO) of 7101 Music Nation (which is the organization behind the camp and his brainchild together with Twinky Lagdameo and Ryan Cayabyab) says they didn’t deliberately set out with this in mind as a goal when they organized Elements Music Camp six years ago.

“This just happened naturally and organically without intention. Because of the networking and the camaraderie that happens during camp, the graduates organize themselves to do shows together, they collaborate on songwriting projects,” says Sy. “Furthermore, they organize reunions amongst themselves. It has created a large community of Elements music artists who have a shared passion to make Philippine music flourish.”

But all this would not be possible, says Sy, without the level of commitment provided by their camp mentors. Every year, veteran singers and songwriters — including the likes of Gary Valenciano, Aiza Seguerra, Chito Miranda, Nyoy Volante, Ogie Alcasid, Louie Ocampo, Noel Cabangon, Jim Paredes, Raimund Marasigan, Jay Durias, Gabby Alipe and Trina Belamide, Jungee Marcelo, Jimmy Antiporda, Jonathan Manalo and (not to forget, the biggest mentor of them all, 7101 artistic director Ryan “The Maestro” Cayabyab) — make time to be part of the Elements Music Camp to share their knowledge and experience with the participants.

“Without them, there would be no camp,” says the 7101 Music Nation CEO. “They block off from their busy schedules the dates to be available for camp. Many of our mentors have been part of camp since the beginning.”

But the best thing about the set-up is that even after the camp is done, these mentors go on to champion the cause of the campers in their own ways by recording their songs, producing their albums, or simply getting them for performances. This is one way by which the “community” works. For example, Gloc-9 recently had a Music Museum series, and guested camper Reese Lansangan in every show. Gary V guested Bullet Dumas and Lara Maigue in his Resorts World shows. Ogie and Trina manage the careers of campers as well. Jungee, Jimmy and Jonathan — all multi-awarded musicians, composers and album producers — get campers to work with them on their songs.

It therefore becomes a cycle, a building of talent upon talent in a circle that just keeps being added to, and keeps growing every year. “We really are building a music nation,” observes Twinky Lagdameo, COO of 7101 Music Nation.

Sy is proud not just of the mentors for their commitment, but also of the new artists who are becoming recognized for their music. “Many are graduates from camp,” he says.  “A lot of winners of various music competitions are likewise our campers.”

Most of all, Sy — who is also a businessman besides being a music-lover and passionate about the cause to which he has committed himself — is proud of how far the Elements Music Camp has come since they set it up six years ago. “The reputation of camp gets stronger each year,” he reflects. “We are now getting applicants who are even established names with budding careers. The Elements Music Camp has established a reputation as “The program to graduate (from) to be considered a serious music artist.”

But this won’t be the end, says Sy. The Elements Music Camp will go on to produce more successful artists, more committed campers and mentors who will all work together to keep this community alive.

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