Sugar Hiccup was among the very many bands that sprouted in the ’90s. Unlike the very many bands of the decade however, the band quickly distinguished itself from the crowd, thanks in large parts to Melody del Mundo and her wonderfully strange melodies.
She hummed us into interest and curiosity with “Five Years,” the band’s gateway song if you will, and quite possibly the most intriguing song of the decade. It starts low and slow, until it surprises listeners with a high-pitched, powerfully charged, six-worded ending, in fact the only words to the song: “But he will never be back.”
The decade turned and most of the musicians we grew up with pursued other things. Melody left the country with Sugar Hiccup performing sporadically whenever she’s in town.
At the end of January this year, she was, too. “I came here this time because of a wedding in the family, a HS reunion and my mother-in-law’s birthday. [They all] happen to fall around the same time,” she tells MB Life over email.
It was a quick two weeks that saw Melody and the rest of Sugar Hiccup perform in Cebu—”We can’t resist Cebu,” she exlains—and record an album. Yes, record an album.
Below, is the rest of our interview with Melody.
Do these visits mean you’re making your way back?
Not really. The intent back in 2015 was really to reunite the band and to do some shows to reinstate this lineup that is Sugar Hiccup. It is also sort of a caveat of an upcoming album that Czandro and I have been thinking about for years. My whole family is based in the US and I do have a job there that I really like so I don’t have any plans of settling here.
The reason I came here this time is because of a wedding in the family, a HS reunion and my mother in law’s birthday that happen to fall around the same time. With some days to spare, I told Czandro that this might be the perfect time to record my vocal & guitar tracks for our album that is long overdue. Also, I was able to connect with Sonic Pop Group for a gig in Cebu.
This is totally not part of the plan but we were able to set dates that will work within the last few days of my stay. Our first and only gig in Cebu was back in January 1999 and we had a great reception there. We would love to go back to Cebu & we were given this opportunity, so why not?
Why no Manila gig?
Czandro and I thought that since we played lots of shows in Manila the last time I was here, we thought that we should just focus on working on the album. However, we can’t resist Cebu! ☺
Your voice is really something else. Do you have or did you have special training? Like back in the day, were you trained to sing the Opera or something?
I didn’t have any special kind of training except that I loved to sing since I was three years old. When I was in 2nd grade, I joined our Parish choir that would practice every Saturday prior to Sunday’s mass. I was in the choir for almost 7 years. I believe that was the training that molded me into how I’d sing later on.
I didn’t see myself in a band when I was younger though I learned how to play the guitar when I taught myself back in 4th grade. I’d take my guitar in school during high school and sing with my classmates and friends. I’d join singing contests and competitions where I’d win first place sometimes though not always. That kind of helped build confidence to sing in front of an audience, I guess.
I know you never really stopped making music. But how much of your style has changed? Are there any new artists that you’ve been tripping on that have maybe influenced your sound/singing?
I don’t think the way I write music will ever change. I have always written music starting with the melody first and the lyrics will follow later on. I’d look back and listen to our old songs and would think of things that I’d change now if I were to rewrite it but how it came to life is the same process as how I’d write a new one.
I haven’t been listening to music from new artists lately. I can’t keep up. With Spotify and iTunes out there you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of new artists yet to be discovered worldwide. I tend to listen to older music nowadays such as The Carpenters, Mazzy Star, Lush, Belly and The Sundays lately. Ewan ko, ganon na ata talaga pag tumatanda!
What do you miss most about the ’90s Pinoy rock scene?
Passion. During our time where YouTube, Facebook and iTunes didn’t exist, we relied so much on radio & MTV, cassette tapes and song books to experience & play music. I remember having to scan radio stations all the time hoping they’d play songs that i like so I could record them on cassette tapes. That’s how I was able to listen to my favorite songs over and over again rewinding tapes hundreds of times. I’d watch MTV for music videos and that’s how I was able to see how the artists looked like.
My favorite is the Jingle songhits! Though I can figure out or “kapa” chords of a song that I’d like to play in the guitar, these song books make it so much easier! When I was already starting with the band, we didn’t even have a tuner. We would manually tune our guitar through Czandro’s keyboards relying on our ears. We didn’t have as much tools but we made the most of what we had. I think most of the bands that time would agree that things weren’t easy then. It pushed us to be more resourceful and creative not to mention dedicated in efforts that contribute to making music.
“Five years” was such a sad song. I mean, it was almost suicidal, forgive my language. May I ask: Was that what you were also feeling, back when you were already popular and the song was part of your repertoire?
This song is a curse hahaha!! It was great and bad for us. We never thought it’d be our first single, moreso a hit. It became tiring later on but I’m glad that we had songs that our followers appreciated past “Five Years.”
I read somewhere that the song was about a “past love,” as you called him/her then. Did s/he ever know the song was about him/her?
This song started really as a sound check song prior to our full sets in Club Dredd. It would help me vocalize so that I’m warmed up by the time we play. We couldn’t come up with anything for lyrics. It was our bassist then who came up with the line to put some mystery to the song. Our song Someday from the Alpha Numeric Sampler is more apt for that past love than “Five Years.” Whether or not that person knew, it didn’t really matter.
Did you ever get sick of that song?
How about “Moden De?” What was that about?
“Moden De” is a song for everybody to interpret. Masarap nga siyang kantahin. We urge our followers to just sing it the way they want to and just come up with their own lyrics for it.
Say you were gonna make a comeback. How would you like to be introduced to ~millennials~?
Sugar Hiccup! Simple as that.
Photo: Mari Arquiza
MORE AWESOME READS: