For a band that was just formed in 2008, AJKA has experienced major victories compared to others. Most notable is their win in the 2010 Nescafe 3-in-1 Soundskool college band search.
Flashback when they just got together. This band garnered first place in an interschool Battle of the Bands with an original song that would also lead them to their recent milestone. Coincidence? Destiny? Whatever you call it, this proved to be a shape of things to come.
K.A. Antonio (vocals), JL delas Llagas (guitars), Aaron Caligner (bass) and Jon Pinto (drums) met in the official De La Salle University orchestra, DLSU- Pops Orchestra now known as the Surreli Pops Orchestra and have combined their first names’ initials to form their band’s name.
All members started young in picking up their first instruments and that passion for music made them click easily. After joining several Battle of the Bands, they felt it was time to take their talent to the next level. So they joined the 2010 Nescafe 3-in1 Soundskool, a nationwide band competition for college bands whose alumni include Hilera, Letter Day Story and Eevee.
“We felt that Soundskool will give us a good exposure in order for our music to be heard,” KA said.
Armed with their music that they describe as “pop with a hint of jazz, funk, and soul”, from the auditions they breezed through the semifinals and made it as one of the Top 5 finalists. Tough is one adjective they thought to describe the whole journey.
“It entailed a lot of hard work. We had to practice more than usual. It was a mix of pressure since we know that there are a lot of bands battling for the title,” KA said.
Yet, that journey provided them with learning experiences particularly on how the music industry works.
“I got to know so many things about the music industry that I didn’t know beforehand. I learned tips on how to make our songs better, performance and musically wise. Plus I got to meet new friends and made connections within the industry. The Soundskool experience also let our band think about what we really want and what direction will we take,” Aaron said.
Among the five finalists, they were eventually voted via text votes as 2010’s Nescafe 3-in1 Soundskool champion. Their victory was a lot of firsts in the competition: first time a winner was decided via SMS, a winner not leaning towards the rock and alternative side, and the first time a female-fronted band won.
“I think what made us win the competition foremost is the support of our friends, family and fans without them we won’t be in this situation. Second is the unique sound that our band has, I think it is something that is not common and is new to the ears of the public,” Aaron said.
A band that has not tried submitting demos to record labels, AJKA now belongs to one - multi-national label Sony Music, as part of the prize. “The feeling is overwhelming. This situation that we are in now was just a dream before and now I am very excited to be a part of Sony music. This chance we got is once in a lifetime so I am willing to work as hard as I can to prove that we deserve the win,” quips guitarist JL.
Likewise, they finally have a CD of their own called “Undefined,” featuring the lead single “Tanong Lang”, the original song that won them their first band competition and the Nescafe 3-in-1 Soundskool.
“The lyrics say it all. It’s a sweet flattery of questions confirming the real feelings of the person. Being the first ever single, this song began the band,” KA said.
Another track in the album “In Denial” tells a story of two people who are secretly in love with each other. Their actions show of overflowing love, but they are just both in denial that they’re truly falling for each other. The band wrote the track in 2007 and was based on real life experience.
Produced by Jonathan Ong (Gloc9, Letter Day Story) and The Youth’s Robert Javier, listeners can look forward to an album that is distinctively AJKA, one that will leave an indelible mark in the music industry. “Expect vocal excellence, groovy bass lines, warm guitar riff, and punchy drumming,” concludes Jon.