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Ten Years of Autotelic: From Obscurity to Ubiquity

Celebrated pop rock quintet Autotelic—singer-guitarist Josh Villena, guitarist Neil Tin, bassist Timothy “Pabs” Vargas, synth player EJ Edralin, and drummer Gep Macadaeg—marks their decade-old tenure through a show dubbed Isang Dekadang Autotelic, happening November 26, 2022, at 123 Block in Mandala Park, Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City. 

Formed in 2012 initially as a “side project” of sorts to the bands they were then in, the group soon found themselves—after a rigorous workshop of their intended sound, target milestones, and ballpark aesthetic—drawn to the union at hand.

More than spirited meeting-of-minds or spontaneous jam, those initial get-togethers became a problem-solving exercise: “How do we stand apart?” they asked. In Villena they certainly had a hook-churning pop machine, but it was up to the rest of them to fashion a sound largely (if not entirely) theirs. The answer lay in their shared love for OPM, sure, but also in their common adoration for dance pop, electronic music, and Japanese ephemera. This was evident in their debut eponymous EP (released in 2014), which boasted of a heady mix of danceable guitar pop and future-forward indie rock, but with narratives that veered from typical lovelorn fare but remained nevertheless accessible. “We wanted to make a dent, even just for a little bit,” Gep confessed. That dent became a burrow, and that ripple morphed into waves. Autotelic played bars like they were arenas; they projected on TV the way they would in a small café.

Armed with infectious tunes and bob-worthy arrangements, unsuspecting slices-of-life like “Dahilan,” “Laro,” “Languyin,” “Gising,” and “Takipsilim” became more than songs; it’s not so much that they became anthems either, but, rather, like choice pieces of furniture in an endearing, endeared, and well-appointed home. Both critics and fans agree. In their decade-long career, Autotelic have snagged accolades from Jam 88.3, Jack Daniel’s, Vandals on the Wall, Myx Awards, and, most notably, Awit Awards, where they won Best Performance Bya New Group Recording Artist for “Laro” in 2017.

“We weren’t gunning for these things, but we always appreciated it,” Neil sheepishly shared, stressing that more than the approval of suits, the band has always chased the approval of warm bodies, measuring themselves not by citations but the immediacy of the live show. Their forthcoming anniversary show on November 26 seeks to celebrate all of this and more. With fellow self-made stars in the marquee—the somehow-always-viral December Avenue, and DIY royalty Ang Bandang Shirley—the show is sure to give fans a worthwhile weekend to look forward to. Isang Dekadang Autotelic is being presented by Otelik and H2, with sponsors The Havas Ortega Group, Linya Linya, Jack Daniel’s, and Goto Believe, with the help of media partners JAM 88.3, 99.5 PLAY FM, and 91.5 Win Radio. 

To learn more about the group, by visiting their Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/autotelicmusic/.

What do you think?

Written by Gabriel

Introvert, wanderer, blogger, foodie, a hip-hop music writer, and one of the co-founders of a tech start-up company called GigsManila.

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