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Slow Hello: A Collective of Calm and Cool

A Parallel Planets piece by Unknown

Parallel Planets presents Slow Hello
in A Collective of Calm and Cool
Story and Interview by Erin Emocling

Mentioned: Strawberry Fields Forever, hopeless romanticism, and performing at a senior prom

* * *

Slow Hello is a band with members from another band, which isn’t a real surprise if, like me, you’re in a relationship with someone who’s pretty much connected to the same circle of people in the local music scene. It’s more of a thrill because everyone’s pretty much friends with friends, or friends of friends, as Facebook puts it.

I was already a listener of Ang Bandang Shirley, Selena Salang’s other band, even before I got the lucky chance to be introduced to her and everyone else in the group. And I tell you, to repeatedly watch their gigs live and mush in pits with our lromance-stricken friends, whilst singing along to their love songs, is really a healthy accomplishment in life.

I may not look like it, but I have a special inclination with Slow Hello. I think it’s because I look up to Selena like a bigger sister, who's ever so congenial, clever, and chill. We’re not that close, though, but whenever I see her, she always greets me (or everyone else) with a sincere smile and, yup, a warm and slow hello.

To me, she’s like a hybrid between surf rocker Bethany Cosentino and local musician Cookie Chua—the former because Selena is definitely the “most indie” singer I know in our part of the globe (plus they both play the guitar and love cats) and the latter because I know that she’ll still be doing music even if she gets older (and she’ll still be good at it). Even more so, I just can’t picture a gnarling or a grimacing Selena, or maybe I just haven’t seen her during her bad hair days. She's eternally composed and she’s someone I would like to be in another universe, especially since I don’t know how to sing.

photo by Mayee Gonzales

As a girl with inevitable, bathetic strands of DNA, I can easily relate to Slow Hello’s songs. Selena’s voice is distinct—it has its own convivial tone that is really calming to listen to. In fact, I’m writing this amidst a very rough, stormy weather, but playing their songs in the background lulls me to sanity. It’s soothing, kind of like being wrapped in a blanket until I doze off to sleep. A little cheesy, but true.

This core characteristic, layered with the entire band’s layers of sounds, always makes them the most light-hearted set of every gig, where you could just stay in place and bob your head to their catchy beats and harmless melodies.

With all of these sweet things said, it is also imperative for me to say that Slow Hello is much more than Selena’s silkiness. There’s Marc Inting’s bellowing bass combos, Erwin Hilao’s perky percussions, and Russ Davis’ slick guitar strums. Put them altogether and you get a chemical formula like no other: they're them.

I invited Selena for an interview for Parallel Planets because I thought that it’s a very timely thing to do: their first full-length album, Audio Baby, is going to launch this weekend and, well, they definitely deserve the spotlight—even in a different planet!

The way I see it, Slow Hello makes good, unpretentious music because, not only they pour their hearts out when playing or recording, they also deal with things in the “slowly but surely” manner. Cool, calm, and collected. And it works for them. As for me, I just have to keep calm until they release their new album. You, reader, got to hold on, too!

Read on to my interview with Selena, Marc, Erwin, and Russ and learn about how Slow Hello started as a solo project, how they came to be a full band set-up, what their musical influences are, and what they’d like to be in another world.

* * *

Parallel Planets: Hello, Selena! Tell us something about yourself as a musician and before you became one.

Selena: "Hi P||P! I started out as a singer for Candyaudioline, a shoegaze metal band. I was drinking with a friend and her friend (bassist Ayn Tolentino), who invited me to one of their practice sessions after finding out I liked to sing. I was terrified, but I went there, thinking I would say no anyway. I didn’t (partly out of fear) and ended up learning 11 songs on that first night. I was in Candyaudioline from 2002-2005. They were really fun years, and I learned a lot about indie music then.

After I left Candyaudioline in December 2005, Owel Alvero messaged me on Friendster because he was a fan of the band and heard I was suddenly free. He asked if I could sing on a recording he was making of his songs. I was so desperate to sing again that I said yes even if I didn’t know him. That recording turned out to be the Rizal Day Sessions, early recordings of Ang Bandang Shirley songs in Themesongs (2008) engineered by Mark Villena (Tungaw). I loved the songs so much that when I heard Owel had reformed Shirley in May 2006 and he asked me to do guest vocals at one gig for them, I joined the Shirley mailing list and begged him to make me part of the band. Shirley was the band where I would first try making my own music, starting out with the harmonies I did for our first album, and then the songs I contributed to Tama Na Ang Drama (2012). They provided me with a safe and encouraging creative environment so I could finally try writing my own songs.

Before becoming a musician, I was a shy nerd music fan. I liked singing, but never dreamed I would be in a band someday, much less make my own music."

Parallel Planets: When/How did your inclination with music begin?

Selena: "I fell in love with music when I was about 10 years old. I would record songs I liked on tape from the radio and listen to them repeatedly.

The first song that made me feel that music was art and not just a background for life was when I heard 'Strawberry Fields Forever' when I was 11. It sounded so strange and fascinating to me back then. It’s still one of my favorite songs.

In high school, I lived in a dorm, and only had a radio for entertainment. We were also taught how to play the guitar in music class, so I kept at it because I wanted to accompany my own singing. It was then that I also started collecting lots of cassette tapes."

Marc: "I'd repeatedly watch the Sound of Music VHS tape at home as a little kid. And then I learned how to play a couple of Oasis and Eraserheads songs from an older cousin when I was mid-way through elementary."

Erwin: "I was in elementary school when I first saw upper classmen playing some E-Heads songs during a cheering practice. I was staring at the drummer and I was like 'I wanna be like him.'

I started playing when I was in high school then up until college. Lost time and interest when I started working then got back again when I met Tumblr friends. Thus, The Strangeness and Slow Hello (as a full band) were born."

Russ: "I've always loved music growing up. Although I didn't start learning guitar till I was 19. I was lucky to be able to play music on the radio and have firsthand exposure to the local music scene though, during my stint with NU107 2005-2008. Am back on radio now, with JAM88.3."

photo by Mayee Gonzales

Parallel Planets: How/When did Slow Hello start? What made you to decide to become a full band? More details on your band members, please.

Selena: "I wrote my first song in January 2008 and it was a surprise. Then I wrote another and another, experiments. I was extremely shy about these songs and would post them privately on Multiply. As friends started liking them, I slowly made them more public.

Kathy Gener gave me my first gig, on Lemonheads Night at Ride N’ Roll Diner. She encouraged me to try playing them in public. It felt like the next logical step, another experiment, to play my songs live.

Friends would come to my few gigs and say they liked my stuff and would offer to play backup for me. Since I was starting to write songs that were more complex, I liked the idea. Marc Inting was the first to offer his services, because he was my sister’s boyfriend. He’s an amazing bassist – just listen to his work in Twin Lobster. It’s cool that he has a softer side he brings out well in Slow Hello.

Erwin Hilao of The Strangeness was next. He was already sessioning for other bands in my circle, and he offered to be my full-time drummer. Erwin and I both like indie pop, so I knew it was going to work. Besides his drumming skills, his positivity and sense of humor are assets of the band.

Russ Davis was the last piece of the puzzle. He likes many different types of music, but his love for Britpop and underestimation of his great guitar playing made me think he would be perfect for us. He has great intuition for just how much he should be playing on a song, and how.

I think all of us just fit somehow, without a clear scientific explanation. I love these guys."

Erwin: "I was a fan first before Selena decided to do a full band setup. I used to listen to her Myspace and I really loved her lo-fi songs. I really thought she sounded like Rose Melberg when I first listened to her rough demos."

Russ: "Slow Hello is Selena's brainchild. What started as a solo project is now a full band. All of the members are friends/relatives of Selena. I was the last addition to the band. Before me, Selena's sister, Edwina, played guitar with them. She is also joining us for the album launch."

Parallel Planets: What influences your music? Who inspires you?

Selena: "My time with Candyaudioline and bands like Soft Pillow Kisses and Popular Days still influences my music. I also love Teenage Fanclub, Wilco, Eraserheads, Eggboy, Ciudad, Sarah McLachlan and Radio Dept., and pretty much anything I like listening to has some elements in my songs. I’m inspired by my friends and the people I love – their lives are interesting, and I sometimes write to relate. I’m also inspired by a lot of newer local indie bands who work hard and make great music, like Your Imaginary Friends, Identikit, and Ourselves The Elves."

Marc: "My bandmates are a huge influence on my music -- a lot of what I do music-wise is reactive, I think. I also look up to musicians like Zach Smith, Colin Greenwood, Diego Mapa, and Jing Gaddi."

Erwin: "I’m influenced by a lot of indie/twee/jangle pop stuff (and by ‘twee’ I mean not the twee most people know these days). I super love Sarah, Labrador, Creation, C86, and late '80s to mid '90s stuff. I’m mostly inspired by random beautiful things happening around me."

Parallel Planets: How does Slow Hello make music—from song-writing to recording?

Selena: "When we formed the full band, I already had several songs written and so it was left up to the band to flesh them out. For the newer songs, I would come up with a demo, teach them the skeleton of it, and they would add their flair to claim owndership of it. I write when an idea comes up and I want to explore the communicative pathways of that idea: my reaction to it, perhaps another’s point of view, how best to say it without actually saying it. I just tinker. I would like to see songs by the others in future releases, too."

Marc: "It starts with Selena, of course, and then we build on that. It usually takes me a while to settle on my bass part for a song. On the other hand, that's what makes "You Know It's You" and "Runway Blue" kinda special for me. For those, I didn't really fuss over my lines after the first jam -- I felt like they clicked right away with what everyone else was doing."

Erwin: "Selena had most of the songs written when we got together as a full band. She introduces the songs to the band then we basically weave all parts together. We jive easily, which is cool."

Parallel Planets: This might have been asked in the past already but I’m still curious to know—why “Slow Hello”?

Selena: "Initially, I called myself “Close Quarters” because I felt like people needed to be there in order to get to know me. But I found out that some Swedish rock band was already named that. I picked the word “hello” instead because I liked it – it’s a greeting and it sounds funny, don’t you think? I matched it with “slow” to sort of counter my hopeless romanticism a little, to slow down and appreciate the journey."

Parallel Planets: Audio Baby, your first full length, is coming out soon. Tell us more about it.

Selena: "Never expected to do an album, so I released my songs a little at a time online. We eventually accumulated enough for us to consider doing an album. Nothing about it is complicated – it’s very lo-fi and straightforward. It’s an audio baby in that we worked on it over a long time, and it wasn’t  a cake walk. But the process was extremely fun. We recorded at Nick Lazaro’s La Balls Studio, and he is an amazing person with sound. He told me recently that we were the hardest project he has worked on because he had to unlearn many of his usual tricks in sound recording so he wouldn’t make us sound polished. He describes his mix of our work as 'sincere.' That’s what we wanted to be anyway. There’s nothing fake about this record: I’m not a very good guitar player, and you can hear that – you will be hearing some hiccups on the record. But you’ll also hear who we really are and how we enjoy making our music and playing it. Plus, we got the talented Niki Cabardo to play keyboards on some songs! I was starstruck."

Marc: "It was my first time to work with Nick on a non-Twin Lobster album, so the whole experience felt both familiar and new."

Russ: "The album's name is an inside joke known only to Selena, Russ, Marc, and Edwina, and their cats and dog."

Parallel Planets: How is it like working with Number Line Records?

Selena: "They’re cool cats. I’m grateful to them because they were among the first to believe in me. Outerhope asked me to play at their A Day For The Absent (2009) album launch, and when Number Line asked me to be part of the label, I was floored. They encouraged me to have an online presence, and being part of this collective of artists has been nice."

Erwin: "I’m good friends with most of the artists and that’s what I love about N/. I first started playing with Multo then Outerhope then Slow Hello and hopefully I get to play with them forever. They’re the best people in the scene, to be honest. Why? Because they all have great taste."

Parallel Planets: Your track/album covers and shirt designs are lovely. Tell us something about the artist/s who made them.

Selena: "These are all artists we admire. Besides providing a little direction or some suggestions, we let them interpret the project as they wanted to. I noticed they all latched onto the “slow” aspect, in different ways. We are infinitely grateful to them!"

by Manix Abrera

Selena: "Manix Abrera is an old friend. Before I met him, I was already a huge fan of his work, those little details, the spindly arms, and the odd but sensitive sense of humor. I just thought it would be cool if he could do a little design for Slow Hello, and it worked out perfectly. His interpretation of Slow Hello concerned time."

Marc: "Manix is super fit from years of paddling with the UP Dragonboat team."

by Justine Basa

Selena: "We met Justine under strange but cool circumstances (on a sudden beach trip). We found out that she’d done work for Camerawalls, lovely, strange illustrations, and she told us she was game to do some art for us. She submitted some studies, and they were delicate, quiet drawings. We felt that they fit the old indie pop feel of my solo work more and we needed something that reflected our new lineup better. I did feel though that her work fit the particular song 'You Know It’s You,' so I asked if we could use her work for the digital release on N/. Happily, she agreed. Her interpretation of Slow Hello is a still yet kinetic moment between a girl and a dog."

by Ekong Caruncho

Selena: "I met Ekong during Buzz Night days – he was in a band called Sunset Drive – and he did some posters for the production. He had a dark, slightly sick style that scared me a bit, but I was hooked. His illustrations were comic-book style and I liked how he did human forms. His work combines a polished innocence with an adult, slightly sexual, slightly perverse perspective. I just know he’s going to laugh when he reads this! Anyway, I’ve always been impressed by his work and got the chance to recommend him for Ang Bandang Shirley’s Scary Debut poster in 2008. He, of course, did a great job on that. Then I recommended him to do a poster for’s Eat Your Beats event in 2011. Finally, I got a solid chance to have him illustrate for me for the album art for Audio Baby. Because our band had a masculine aspect to it now with the three new male musicians, I thought Ekong might be a good choice to do our art, since he also loves drawing females – I thought it balanced out. First, he submitted a shirt design, interpreting the 'slow' aspect in 'the early bird gets the slow worm' terms. Then, he made several studies for the album art, which we gave our comments on until it tied in with the shirt design. Much later on, we asked him to do the album launch poster and he did it in a style that diverted from his illustration work, and it also tied in with the 'bird' concept. He’s awesome.

Ekong is a generous and talented artist. He diligently sketches several studies to give us a choice, and then quickly works on the drafts – a discipline he probably learned at his ad agency job. It was hard to choose final  designs because he did such great work. He even did an alternative poster for the launch, which he just sent to us because he was excited to explore that design. He also thanks us profusely each time we talk about him. This guy is humble, hardworking, and extremely talented, and we want people to know about him so they can hire him and appreciate his talent."

Parallel Planets: Sweet! An Eggboy cover. Any special reason for picking “Details”?

Selena: "Owel approached me for Slow Hello to do an Eggboy cover for a compilation he’s planning to put out. Initially, I chose another song, but he recommended 'Details' to me and I wholeheartedly agreed because it was one of my favorite Egbboy songs. I love the line 'Suddenly I got you, never thought I’d have you.' I also could relate to it at the time we recorded it. Watch out for that compilation, by the way. Heard some songs, and they were really good."

Parallel Planets: Best gig so far?

Selena: "After bumbling through our first few gigs as a full band, we hit our stride, and now I like all our gigs! Playing with these guys is a joy each time. But one gig that will forever be etched in my heart is the Punchdrunk Panda Skimmers Launch at Cubao X on March 31, 2012. It was also my birthday, and PdP had decorated their stage with lights and streamers, and it was such a festive vibe, and I was surrounded by my best friends."

Marc: "That 'long set' night at Route 196. (A Word of Mouth production with Steady Machine)"

Erwin: "It’s always great playing in front of friends but I like it when we play outside our usual comfort venues. Best gig for me was when we played at Cubao X for Punchdrunk Panda. I missed Cubao X so, yeah. That was fun."

Parallel Planets: Dream gig?

Marc: "To unleash 'You Know It's You' at a senior prom."

Selena: "Marc’s answer is awesome. I would also like to play in Singapore, maybe at the Esplanade Outdoor Theater. Anywhere out of the country would be great."

Erwin: "Walang Tulugan with Mastershowman."

Parallel Planets: Secret band weapon?

Selena: "Being in it for the ride."

Marc: "Our height."

Erwin: "Heart."

Russ: "Niki Cabardo."

Parallel Planets: Aside from Audio Baby, what other project(s) are you currently working on? Anything we should watch out for soon?

Selena: "I’m also in a band called Ang Bandang Shirley. Check it out."

Marc: "This probably isn't something that'll be out anytime soon, but I'd love to finish that Don't Bogart The Can... Man album."

photo by Mayee Gonzales

Parallel Planets: In this planet that we're thriving in—

What is your power animal?

Selena: "A cat. They’re super cool yet affectionate. I would love to be more like one."

Marc: "The horse. Because horsepower. And focus. Kaba-kabayo lang yan, guys."

Erwin: "Bear."

Who is your alternate ego?

Marc: "Marc Inting, Rookie Husband. By the time this is published, I'll have been married for about a week."

Selena: "Slick Selena. She always knows what to say and can make cool spiels on stage."

Parallel Planets: In an alternate universe where music does not exist—

What would your name be?

Selena: "Lisa. It’s so ordinary, like my life if I had to live without music."

Marc: "Still the same. I don't think music influenced my parents' choice of name for me."

Erwin: "Roughy McRoughy."

What would you be doing instead?

Selena: "I would probably have become an engineer because the Philippine government wanted me to."

Marc: "Designing tabletop games. I enjoy rolling dice."

Erwin: "Food fight because that’s a fun kind of fighting."

More from Slow Hello


  1. Salamat dito sa panayam. Lubhang nakapagpaligaya ng damdamin!


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