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Mass Bass

Mass Bass 1 Photo

A few years ago, Jay Conui (drums) and Armael Malinis (keys) decided to start jamming together, to bring together their passion for politics and their love for music. Pretty soon young Ervin Lopez (guitar) joined in, then Paul Bolick (bass) and Kiwi Illafonte (lead vocals) afterwards. Tony Daquipa (percussion) started coming by not too long after that, and Tina Shauf (background vocals) eventually completed the circle. Originally called Bandung 55, the group began getting their licks in everywhere from local community events to college campuses to Bay Area music venues. Eventually they decided they had enough material to start recording an album, and after roughly two years (or perhaps closer to three), they completed their debut album Movement Movin’ and renamed themselves Mass Bass.
A term used by organizers and activists, a “mass base” is an crucial objective for anyone trying to build a movement; a unified assemblage of people who are ready and willing to fight for their liberation. Kiwi further explains: “As a fan of poetry and lyricism, ‘Mass Bass’ has multiple meanings to me. Asides from the obvious wordplay with music and activism, the word “mass” resonates with me as someone who grew up in the church. And as I got older, I actually discovered my true spirituality in being part of the movement as a cultural worker. The spiritual connection I may have lost from leaving the church was rediscovered rallying on the streets, writing in the studio, or rocking a crowd at a show.”
The members of Mass Bass all had different musical backgrounds; some seasoned, others novices, but all with a dedication to creating political art. Paul was part of One Struggle Band (with Ras K’Dee). He also played with Tony in another band, the much-endeared Diskarte Namin. And Kiwi is most known as one-third of renowned Filipino rap group Native Guns. The band’s secret weapon, however, might just be Ervin’s versatility and rawness on guitar, which drives almost all of their songs. Rounded out by Jay, Armael, and Tina, this combination creates a sound that is some parts funk, other parts soul, a sprinkle of reggae and rock here and there, with Kiwi’s lyrics adding the hip hop element. In a world of music genres and categories, there isn’t a package for Mass Bass’ sound, just a whole lot of good live energetic music, with a socio-political twist.

Band Members:
Armael Malinis - Keys
Ervin Lopez - Guitar
Jay Conui - Drums
Kiwi Illafonte - Raps
Paul Bolick - Bass
Tina Shauf - Vocals
Tony Daquipa - Percussion


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