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Barbie Almalbis celebrates 25 years in music


SHE started learning the guitar, writing songs, and singing at the age of 11. Alternative rock singer-songwriter Barbie Almalbis’ love for music has led to 25 years in the local music industry. Next month, she will celebrate the milestone with a concert, Firewoman: 25 Years of Barbie Almalbis which will be held at 123 Block in Mandala Park on March 11.

Ms. Almalbis began her career in 1996 as the lead vocalist of the bands Hungry Young Poets and Barbie’s Cradle. Their song “Tabing Ilog” was used as a theme for an ABS-CBN afternoon TV series of the same title. In 2005, she pursued a solo career and has since released four studio albums.

Growing up in Roxas City, Capiz, Ms. Almalbis was never exposed to the idea of making a career out of music.

“What happened to me musically speaking — l being here, and 25 years later having all these songs — is a surprise to me,” Ms. Almalbis said at a press conference on Feb. 22 at the Empty Stomach Café and Lounge Bar in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. “All I knew was I love music. I play the guitar every day since [I was] 11 years old, and hindi ko siya plinano na magiging ganito (I did not plan for it to become the way it is).”

The concert will reunite her two bands — Hungry Young Poets and Barbie’s Cradle. She will be performing some of the most notable hits of her career in three separate sets.

“I’m just so excited to play alongside some of my old friends, who also happen to be some of my favorite musicians,” Ms. Almalbis in a statement. “We have so many great memories, making music, touring, and growing up together. They’ve taught me so much over the years. I’m just so grateful for this opportunity to jam with all of them on the show. I’m also looking forward to sharing the stage with many other artists I admire.”

“When you enter the music industry, suddenly may pressure na kailangan may maabot ka na success or dapat ma-sustain mo (there is suddenly the pressure to achieve a level of success or maintain it),” she said. “Not every song that you put out will be received the same way. So, I guess what helped me was that original reason why I started writing music — it was just for the joy of it.”

The concert will also feature performances by Sandwich, Gab Alipe of Urbandub, Clara Benin, I Belong To The Zoo, Kai del Rio, and Bird, and is presented by GNN Entertainment Productions, in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, Backspacer Records, JB Music, Nova Wellness Store, and 123 Block.

A NEW ALBUMAlongside the upcoming anniversary concert, the singer will release a new album, Barbie Almalbis: Tower Sessions Live.

The idea for the album came about after listening to a recording from a Tower Sessions online show where Ms. Almalbis’ band played. The show was hosted by the music production studio Tower of Doom.

“We were just supposed to do a gig with them… so we just made the setlist for the show,” she said. “But after the event, we were having dinner and listening to the playback and natuwa kami (we were happy) [about] how it was recorded and how it sounded,” she said.

The album was recorded in 2021. It includes the track “Kumpas” — a song she co-wrote with her husband, Martin Honasan — which takes its inspiration from the Bible verse Matthew 6:33. In the track, Ms. Almalbis also plays the kudlong, a boat-shaped two-stringed lute played among Southern Mindanao groups.

In terms of songwriting, Ms. Almalbis noted incorporating simple and complex chords and techniques.

“I have also gotten to the point where hindi naman porket nagawa mo na iyon ay kailangan mo nang itapon (Having done something does not mean it has to be disregarded),” She described the process as “swimming forward and then swimming back” and “finding out what works.”

“Enjoy the ride. Sometimes [when] you get caught up in the pressure, sometimes you don’t appreciate where you are,” she said.

Ms. Almalbis will also be releasing a collaborative single titled “Catch Me” with Sugar Hiccup’s Melody del Mundo on March 1.

The 45-year-old singer considers the collaboration as a wonderful opportunity to finally work with her favorite musician after missing her at a college fair concert.

“Over the years, I finally got to meet her in the States [where Ms. Del Mundo is now based] and we got to play in the same venue,” Ms. Almalbis said, adding that they talked online and she was invited to write and record a song.

With 25 years and counting in the local music scene, Ms. Almalbis maintains her original goal from when she started.

“Music is a gift. Music can be enjoyed in many ways. You can be a professional musician, you can be a musician at home. Being able to play, being able to listen, being able to write is a really a great source of joy…I think, I think that should first and foremost – that you’re really enjoying,” she said. “And then at the same time, have a great team. We can’t do it on our own. Get out there and collaborate with people.”

Tickets to Firewoman: 25 Years of Barbie Almalbis are available for purchase via TicketMelon. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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