TFFP's community-driven scene: A place for every artist
Everyone is dropping music and art all the time, and when someone is new, it can feel a bit overwhelming at times. But to be dreaming of breaking into the local music scene, it’s not always as bloody as it sounds. This tight-knit community of young artists gave it a shot, and although there really were hurdles in mingling with social circles in an already established scene, they still rolled with it.
The Folking Friends Productions (TFFP) is an event and gig production collective formed by like-minded and Cebu-based singer-songwriters: Aira Calina (Cali Essé), Keith Human, Jill Nuñez, Liana San Diego, Franco Miguel Dosdos (ST3R10) and Elvin Rey Dalumpines (Ala Una Elvin).
“Our goal is simple — provide a venue and a platform for every Filipino musician that has not yet debuted on stage. We shape each curation with two guide questions: ‘Where and how does this artist fit in the line-up and are they willing to perform in public?’” said Keith and Aira in an interview.
Making friends in the industry is about building a community where artists can lean into one another. This is their story of breaking the barriers alongside friendships and the shared passion of creating something beautiful. What started as a shared hardship with the usual local scene hurdles quickly transformed into a riot of colors, laughter and most importantly, love for their creation.
Entry to the scene
Every founding member passionately shared their creative visions, contributing to the beautiful composition that is now TFFP. This collective of artists is rooted in the profound belief that every individual with a love for the arts has a space within the local scene.
According to them, Cebu is a center of creativity where talents flourish left and right. While the atmosphere in the local scene is supportive, TFFP observes that an unintentional exclusivity exists, posing a challenge for newcomers seeking entry into well-established circles.
“We know this because we have gone through more or less the same experience ourselves. And just like somebody gave us a chance at some point and welcomed us into this amazing community, we, too, want to help new talents break through by overcoming that presumed barrier. It’s that same dynamic that we’re trying to replicate, but on a larger scale,” they added.
This is precisely what they are accomplishing. TFFP echoes the same experience as every artist-in-the-making, understanding that the journey towards the industry is not a solo endeavor but one of mutual support.
“For us at TFFP, it’s not so much as aiming to be the ones to ‘discover’ new talent as it is wanting to be the people that assure them that they have friends in the scene just waiting for them to unleash their creative selves. Whether they think their material is going to appeal to an audience or not, our goal is to be able to provide them with an avenue where they can express their art. Our hope is that by working on this goal — responsibly, of course — we can contribute to the growth of the already thriving Cebuano music scene,” they added.
Creating the environment
Cebu, once adorned with cultural hubs like Handuraw Gorordo, Kukuk’s/Turtle’s Nest, KOA Treehouse and The Outpost (later The Monastery), has witnessed the closure of venues like Cafe Racer. According to the group, despite this, there are still noteworthy places, such as Iamik’s Chicken & Beer, known for hardcore and rock events but also welcoming various genres; it also marked the venue for TFFP’s debut gig according to the group.
As TFFP perseveres in carving out its presence within the local scene, they do not promise great things in a snap but a friendship that sticks around and endures. The collective efforts of like-minded individuals can transcend hurdles, creating an environment where each artist can just do their thing and the creative spirit flourishes.
The journey may have its challenges, but with a strong support system like the one fostered by TFFP, the climb becomes less daunting and the view from the top all the more rewarding.