United by their years-long friendship and a common love for music, Jordan Alexander and Sakina Garcia are turning MND3GMA into an exciting musical project.
On the outside, Jordan Alexander and Sakina Garcia look like they don’t have much in common. Jordan made a name for herself as Julien Calloway in the HBO Max reboot of Gossip Girl. Sakina, meanwhile, has songwriter, producer, DJ, and model outlining their resume. Yet, these differences are what make the two creatives the perfect puzzle pieces for each other as they take their artistry and unique point-of-view to the music industry as electro-pop duo MND3GMA (pronounced mandirigma). Together, the two make up an act who do what they love all while operating on the power of authenticity.
While Jordan may be known for their acting, music was always their first love. “I got a guitar for my 12th birthday, and I got into playing covers and writing my music and just getting very into and falling in love with music,” they share. Fittingly enough, Sakina also started playing guitar when they were 12 years old, which they bought themselves. “I just fell in love with it. And I was dancing before then, so I was always just surrounded by music.”
While the Toronto-based duo (Sakina is a first-generation Filipino-Canadian born and raised in the Philippines) went on their separate ways with their careers, life eventually brought them together, with the pandemic having a little help with that. “Sakina and I had been friends, on and off, for a long time. And we’d always talked about doing music together,” Jordan shares on MND3GMA’s origins.
“We did creative things like go out and dance and listen to music. We even did photoshoots together just for fun and to make art and have a creative outlet. But it wasn’t until 2020 that we actually sat down and wrote a song together. And the first song that we ever wrote was called Warrior. And somehow, that turned into the band being called MND3GMA, which means warrior in Tagalog.”
Jordan and Sakina coming together to form MND3GMA was a no-brainer, to say the least. And while working with your best friends might seem like a no-go to some, especially in the creative space, that couldn’t be farther for the two. As Jordan says, “I think we’ve had maybe two or three disagreements about the band early on. And since then, we’ve been pretty in sync about what we want for the band.”
In as much as they gel together, they also are their own person. And it’s in this individuality that they believe makes a big part of MND3GMA. “I think Sakina brings something to the table. And then I bring something to the table, and it’s very complimentary. We’re very different people. And so when we work well together, we fit like a puzzle piece. But it takes being open to the fact that someone sees things really differently than you.”
And while the duo get to do what they love, there’s also the wrinkle of Jordan and Sakina, both of whom are public figures in their own right, sharing their art for the world to love and criticize. Admittedly, it can lead to a pressure that could affect their dynamic. But as they see it, they choose to focus their energies on other priorities.
“We try not to let things like that get to us. We just have to focus and do what we want to do,” states Sakina. Adds Jordan, “People’s opinions online are a thing. But that’s not our top priority. Our top priority is making art that we love and having fun with other creatives. We know how to prioritize what is important and not get too worried about what public perception is of us.”
With a clear vision in mind, MND3GMA introduced themselves to the world earlier this year with their magnetic debut single Tayong Dalawa. The tune rooted in Filipino culture focuses on a love that transcends all barriers, as visualized by the music video, which was shot in the Philippines. Directed by Elena Virata, the MV stars the duo as two space creatures seeking love in the world. Opening with the words “mahal kita”, Tayong Dalawa is a hypnotizing homage to love through the Filipino lens.
“For Tayong Dalawa we were just writing the song on guitar. And of course, Sakina had to come up with all the lyrics because I don’t actually speak Tagalog, but I’m learning and I learned how to say the words,” recalls Jordan. For their second single, Fist Fight, the duo flexed their versatility and pulled a 180 with a punchier and hard-hitting electronic smash that feels tailor-made for the rave. “Sakina had made that production [for Fist Fight] and then we came together and wrote the song,” adds Jordan.
With Sakina on production and Jordan leaning more towards songwriting, the two complement each other well. And it is through their fortes that they find the fun and joy of music-making. “Making the beats, there’s just such a wide range of possibilities., different senses. I’m able to explore what sound I like and what’s new to me,” expresses Sakina.
As for Jordan, nothing beats playing a demo on a ride with your bestie and realizing it’s a bop. “When we have enough of the song done, we drive around in Sakina’s car and scream the lyrics and dance.” They further, “A demo is not necessarily polished, finished, and perfect. But it is just the purest part of the creation where you took something from absolutely nothing.”
FREE TO BE
With just two singles under their belt, MND3GMA has a lot more in store as they share their creative vision with the world, such as more tracks, more Tagalog, and even a potential performance in the Philippines soon. “We’re so lucky to be surrounded by an incredible Filipino community here in Toronto that is very supportive of us. And then a creative space in general that I think is helping us be able to have our creative vision. Ultimately, we want that to be just as much in the Philippines as it is here and bridge that gap in terms of connecting with other creatives who are in the Philippines and not just in Toronto,” muses Jordan.
What you see from MND3GMA is what you get. Jordan and Sakina are independent artists who do most of their work on their own or with the help of their friends in the creative space. As Sakina puts it, “We lot do have lots of materials that we want to share. But because we are independent, we’re being challenged in a lot of different ways. But Filipinos are resilient, so we’re gonna find a way.”
At the end of the day, staking their claim in a musical project that feels like an extension of them is what matters the most. “It’s so important to have control over [MND3GMA] and to only include somebody that we would really trust with our lives. It’s so precious to us and we’re driven by the passion and the purity of what we have to offer and what we want to share with the world. And we want to make sure that we never compromise,” confidently states Jordan.
MND3GMA is Jordan and Sakina’s expression of what they love, and, more importantly, are doing it their way. Two queer women of color are doing their thing without warping themselves into what some think a female pop star should look like. They bring something different to the table and are an example of diverse representation that is breaking away from society’s pressure to be and act a certain way.
MND3GMA acts as themselves, there’s no pretending here, and that is what they hope their music brings about in people. “I just want people to enjoy the track and get inspired by it,” conveys Sakina. Adds Jordan, ”I would love for people to feel like they can be their true authentic selves. We want to do it our way and I would love to inspire people to do things their own way.”
Creative Direction KENNETH DIMAANO
Photography CHRISTINE DO
Light Tech and Photo Assistant SABRINA SISCO