Domino, Part Deux
SENSES WORKING OVERTIME - Luis Katigbak () - April 8, 2011 - 12:00am

My brother Ely taught me how to play the guitar when I was in the fifth grade. Sadly, I don’t really have the passion for it. So, I know how to play, I know enough to help me write songs, but I will never play live. I guess I’m really not a musician. I’m a singer.”

That’s Ely as in Ely Buendia, formerly of the Eraserheads and currently of Pupil, pretty much a local rock legend. The person speaking is no less remarkable, however: Lally Buendia, a.k.a. Domino, created one of the best (though sadly overlooked) albums of the early 2000s, and is, aside from a singer and songwriter, a “child, mother, goofball” and aspiring vigilante.

Lally was in an all-girl cover band called “Fresh Milk” when she was in high school (“I was the vocalist, naturally, hahaha!”). A little bit of nepotism meant that they opened for the Eraserheads, and later, After Image, True Faith, and more. That was when Lally began to realize that “I absolutely loved performing. It gave me such a high every single time. It was almost as glorious as being with my daughter or falling in love. I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.” Not long after, “My brother Ely, out of the blue, proposed that I record an album. Got no anecdote for you, that’s just how it happened.”

The resulting solo debut, “Fair Tales,” spanned across genres, encompassing straight-up rock numbers and delicate dreamy electronica, and laying her young heart bare. Spikily unique and fresh, it was never promoted properly, and soon sank amidst a sea of alt-rock soundalikes.

“I was very unhappy with my record label. They didn’t get me, and it was obvious that they didn’t know what to do with me. And I really just dove into this headfirst. I was immature, unprepared, and unwilling to make any sort of compromise. I went into a deep funk, became very disillusioned about the whole thing. It pained me that something that made me so happy was now making me miserable. I had to step away from it completely. I tried to convince myself that I would be much better off doing something else. I believed it too, for a looooong time. But then a funny little thought crossed my mind. If someone with the gift of foresight told me ‘You’ll never sing again, Lally,’ I would be destroyed. Totally destroyed. This is what I love to do. This is what I’m good at. I can’t let this go. I’m quite fortunate that my brother felt the same way. He proposed that I record again.”

So now here we are, looking forward to her second album, due out this year and much anticipated. “The second album has 10 tracks. Seven were written by me, two were collaborations between me and Japs Sergio, and one was written by Aldus Santos.” Some of the songs she’s previewed at gigs are: I Love You, But I’m Driving; Veil; Eight Days; I Die Each Time; and Dites-moi. “There is nothing in the album that didn’t come from me or I didn’t approve of. This album is me. So if it sucks, you know who to blame.”

Domino sings: “This is what I love to do. This is what I’m good at. I can’t let this go.”

Lally doesn’t hesitate to give her opinion of music today. “I think music right now is rather soulless. I can’t stand all the bleeps and bloops and f***ing Autotune. I wish pop music would go back to being organic. Wow, that is probably the most pretentious thing I’ve ever said!” She laughs before adding, “And I wanna hear real singers again. Please, God.”

“Now, why am I babbling about pop music? I think some people will be shocked — a few may be horrified — to learn that I love pop. I mean, honestly, I can listen to almost anything. I know a lot of people say that, but I really mean it. From Aaliyah to ZZ Top. I’m more of a song person than a genre person, you know? But I would much rather listen to Top 40, bubblegum pop, boy bands, dance music, and especially love songs. As in “lab” songs, or “senti.” I actually enjoy listening to the radio more than I do my iPod. And I always tune in to the lite-rock, easy listening stations, never the rock/indie ones. I don’t seek out independent music as fervently as some people do. Okay, I don’t. At all. I find most of it intolerable, actually. And yes, I am aware that I am an independent artist at the moment, hahaha.”

Watching her live performances bears this self-declared love of pop out — the new songs are definitely catchy, though never cheesy, and they have the hallmark of all the best pop, which is that they make you want to listen to them again, right away if possible. In other words, that sophomore release can’t get here fast enough.

And now that she’s wrapping it up, Lally a.k.a. Domino has other ambitions on her plate: to take dance classes (“I’ve always been a frustrated/frustrating dancer”), watch the remaining episodes of The Walking Dead, have more “long and loopy conversations” with her super-smart and talented daughter Caitlin, be a masked avenger, and of course — insert sigh of anticipation slash appreciation here — write more songs.

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