The Local Outsider #16: Kiana Valenciano, Elmo Magalona and Over October

This is a weird time to write this column. The past couple of days have been particularly distressing. But they will all say the show must go on, and it must, for these things we take for granted do more to bring us together than that cycle of panic and counter-panic or whatever that is that unfolded. So, on this month’s Local Outsider, we continue playing catch-up with local acts. I guess we can all unite under the fact that I am still terrible with local acts. Anyway, this month we find ourselves looking at the pop side (and doing an accidental theme, again) if only because of a magazine cover…


That magazine is Rogue, and the person in question is Kiana Valenciano. Gary‘s daughter, yes. Listening to some of her stuff is making me feel old and out of touch. I mean, this is today’s pop music: minimal, catchy, and creeps under you. I am pretty sure I heard “Does She Know” on the radio somewhere – perhaps one of those times when my brother has control of the radio (which means he’s tuned in to Play FM) – and there’s nothing to tell you that this one’s local. Remember when some would say that’s a bad thing, that this is merely copying pop trends abroad? This time around, I’m thinking this is a sign that local acts can do pop music – and importantly, pop music that can fit into radio stations that wouldn’t usually touch local acts unless they’re “cool”. And this is one that, I imagine, would have crossover appeal, too. My other, more important point is how Kiana is paving her own way.


It’s a slightly different case for Elmo Magalona. Francis‘ son, yes, of course. It’s been years since he passed away, and now Elmo’s the one continuing his father’s legacy (although, of course, he’s not the only Magalona doing music). Okay, a part of me can’t quite see him as a teen heartthrob. I remember him as a little boy, on television with his father; unfortunately it’s an image my nostalgic head can’t scratch off. (And I’m not that old.) All that came into play when I heard he was covering one of his father’s more iconic tracks, “Cold Summer Nights”, and while it’s something you have to try hard to get wrong, there’s a bit of a fairy tale moment going on here. This, years later, is definitely the passing of the baton. And it doesn’t hurt that Elmo’s singing voice is, ehrm, sexier than his dad’s.


Finally, I have been reading a fair bit about Over October, a band whose online presence, while typical, was surprisingly hard to pin down. Maybe it’s just me and how woozy the past couple of days have been. They’ve been around since 2014 and released an EP, Free, last year. They haven’t quite gotten big big, and I’m not sure if there’s new material since then, but every time I check my feeds there’s a steady, consistent stream of buzz surrounding this four-piece. On one level, the band feels comfortable: their sound brings me back. At the same time, in a time where musicians push the boundaries – which is a good thing, I must add – it’s nice to hear good old alternative (and affecting) rock. So, we ended this month’s installment with a sort of tonic for these uncertain times. Or perhaps a sip of water before we set out to battle our demons once again. [NB]

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