ALAMAT Takes On Colonialism And Anti-Asian Hate in Their Latest Comeback kasmala

For their first comeback, ALAMAT delves into the country's colonial past.

ALAMAT’s modern-meets-traditional take on P-Pop continues with kasmala as they continue to show why they are one of the rising P-Pop groups to watch out for.

Related: Things That OPM Made Even Cooler: Filipino Prints

Ever since their official debut on February 14, 2021, ALAMAT has stood out of the crowd for their heavy emphasis on Pinoy culture in their music. Composed of eight members from different parts of the country: Taneo from Kalinga, Mo from Zambales, Jao from Pampanga, R-Ji from Eastern Samar, Valfer from Negros Occidental, Gami from Bohol, Tomas from Albay, and Alas from Davao City, the group is meant as a representation of the different cultures of the country. Because of this, they also sing in seven local languages: Tagalog, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Bicolano, and Waray-Waray.

ALAMAT is proudly Pinoy and they aren’t afraid to reference both the good and bad of Philippine culture. That was on full display in their first comeback, kasmala. In a press conference for their first comeback, ALAMAT talked about their latest single, the story behind the song, and what they hope to achieve in the future.

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THE MUSIC VIDEO

A play on the word malakas, kasmala sees the boys present a harder and slightly edgier image and sound from kybe. The music video mainly revolves around the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, a real event in April 1904 where fair organizers brought Filipino natives and other tribespeople from different countries to the fair in America and displayed them as if they were animals in a zoo.

The first part of the music video sees the boys wearing traditional prints with modern designs (all made by Victor Baguilat Jr./Kandama Collective). They are being prepared by men in white suits to be shown off in the fair such as being cleaned or being taught how to speak English. Some of the members said that the costumes in this part were their favorite because it made them feel powerful. Next, the members are dressed in farmer’s attire (designed by Mark Dela Pena), which they said they had a say in the design of their outfits. The final scene has the members wear another set of traditional prints in a modern style as they dance while a group of men in white suits bang on doors while holding disparaging signs about Filipinos as if to say that ALAMAT is finally free of their control.

TACKLING FILIPINO HATE

If you watched the music video and got the anti-Asian and Filipino hate theme, that’s because that was what the members were going for. They said that they wanted the music video to revolve around Filipino and Asian hate, the ignorance that foreigners have towards Asians, and even the attraction some Filipinos have towards colonizers. As much as kybe showed off the more lighthearted side of Filipino culture, kasmala isn’t afraid to touch on a dark part of our history, one that some people may not even know of.

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They stressed though that they didn’t come into the project not knowing what they were doing. With the help of the video’s director, Jason Paul Laxamana, the members educated themselves on that specific moment in the country’s history. They don’t do things just because it’s trending. They actively try to get the story behind what they are doing and know the history behind it. The members emphasized that they want to understand the things they feature in their work.

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KASMALA

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In terms of the song itself, ALAMAT describes kasmala as more warrior-like and upbeat. They said that for their first comeback, they wanted to present a more aggressive and intense sound. The song was actually produced by The Kennel AB, the Swedish powerhouse music production company that has worked with artists like BTS, Red Velvet, and Girls Generation.

When the boys got the arrangement, they, together with Thyro Alfaro, all worked on the song to add their own spin as well as respective languages to the lyrics. The group also revealed that kasmala was actually meant to be their debut single. Kbye was originally meant to be a pre-debut single, but their company felt that kybe was better than just a pre-debut single. It became the debut, and kasmala was pushed to be their first comeback.

FROM THE PHILIPPINES TO THE WORLD

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At less than six months old, ALAMAT is still very much a rookie group, but that is not stopping them from dreaming big. When asked what they hoped to achieve in the future, they said that they want their sound and OPM to be mainstream all over the world, in the same way K-Pop is popular around the world. They also are open to singing in more languages and are currently learning new ones. Aside from this, they are also continuously experimenting on their sound, trying to find that perfect balance of modern-meets-traditional P-Pop.

It’s safe to say that ALAMAT proudly wears Filipino pride on their proverbial sleeves. From the name of the group to the use of local languages in their lyrics, their local aesthetics, and the use of traditional instruments, ALAMAT offers a unique Pinoy sound that pays homage to the past, but modernizes it for today’s age and a global audience. Rarely do you find an act that pushes and promotes Pinoy culture as much as ALAMAT does. The fact that they are the second P-Pop group to appear on the Billboard Next Big Sound Chart and just re-entered the chart recently shows that this boyband is one to watch out for.

Continue Reading: Things That P-Pop Made Even Cooler: The Barong

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