Paranoid City
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Paranoid City

Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Electronic Indie




"Paranoid City: City That Never Sleeps"

What makes beat engineer Eric Strange of indie synth dance band Paranoid City paranoid? “When the rest of the band isn’t showing up yet,” Eric says. It’s funny because it did take a while for vocalist Dax Balmeo, synth operators 8-Bit and 4-Track to find the venue for our interview and shoot. Well, maybe these guys are just too nice to know their way in Makati City’s red light district. Or maybe not?
Let’s put it this way: Paranoid City, compared to other bands that write very deep songs, we just party.”
Describe yourselves in one word.
Dax Balmeo: Blue.
Eric Strange: Strange.
4-Track: Cliché.
8-Bit: Control. Or Rebound.

Outside Paranoid City, what do you do?
Dax: I’m a writer for an internet company and an avid actor.
Eric: I am an account manager for a public relations company and, as a part-time job, I am a professor in an all-girls school in Recto.
4-Track: I’m an artist by day. I do animations. I do trainings. As a part-time job, I teach at an all-girls school.
8-Bit: I am a licensed entrepreneur by day and a wedding videographer during the weekends—and I hope my mom is proud because I now have work.

So what’s the story behind Paranoid City? How did you guys come together?
Dax: I’ve known Eric for quite some time since we were in college. I’ve known 8-Bit for seven years. Our band, Valet Parking, went on a hiatus and then I still wanted to play gigs so I called Eric if he wanted to do something. If you ever need a rebound relationship, always call Eric. Anyway, so what we did is the three of us went into the studio. 8-Bit didn’t want to play bass then. I was listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at that time, and I told him, “You know what? Don’t play the bass, play the synthesizer.” And that was it. About after a few months we were “gig-ing” around the metro and then we met 4-Track so we invited him to play his back-up synthesizer. On the first gig, we noticed that the energy was really high, the chemistry was good. Basically after a few months after the recording of our album, we invited him to play full time. Excuse my husky voice.
4-Track: That’s an enormous manhood proof.

Do you guys still play with your former bands Valet Parking, Idenitkit, Pumping Pluto…?
8-Bit: No, we killed them.
4-Track: I came from a sexy male band called Faultline. And our guitarist was pirated by the band Slapshock.
Eric: We’re more focused on us now.
8-Bit: We’re focused on earning real money.

How did you come up with the decision to play the type of genre you play?
Dax: Oh actually, up to now we’re still undecided.
8-Bit: Special thanks to me.
Dax: That’s true. A big part of our sound comes from the two synthesizers. But we write songs without that in mind. Especially for Viewfinder Dreams, mostly we only had snippets of songs, and 8-Bit would do something beautiful and then we’d be like, “Oh, it works!” Whatever works. We actually had a hard time with the last two songs [in Viewfinder Dreams], but everything else just flowed out.

So there really is no musical vision?
4-Track: Let’s put it this way: Paranoid City, compared to other bands that write very deep songs, we just party.
Eric: When we’re asked what our musical influences are, we just say that we listen to art.
Dax: It was a conscious effort to stray away from the really deep lyrics.
Eric: My old band (Pumping Pluto) was too pop, Dax’s band was also pop. When we did Paranoid City, we just wanted to try something different.
4-Track: That’s so we can play in classy venues. [laughs]
Eric: I think everything is just about having fun. No pressure. There’s no expectation if they’re going to like our songs.

8-Bit: I was influenced by freedom.
4-Track: For me, it’s very different. Deftones, Glass Jaw, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, new wave. Anything in between.
Eric: Mine’s pretty normal. Very pop. Local bands: Eraserheads, Sugarfree, Techy Romantics, Parokya ni
Edgar, Pedicab, Taken by Cars. Foreign: The Killers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Ting Tings, Take That, and Linkin Park.
Dax: Take That.
8-Bit: OMD, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, 80s bands. New wave.

What’s next for Paranoid City? Are you working on anything right now?
Dax: We went on a songwriting hiatus when the album came out.
Eric: Actually, we’re planning on writing songs this year. Due to very busy schedules with work, we might release our second album next year.
Dax: We’re listening to different stuff right now.

How are you when you’re paranoid?
Dax: I look at stars. I like stars, because I grew up in Bulacan.
8-Bit: When I’m paranoid—especially in a relationship or a potential one—I curl up. I run away when a cute girl wants to be rebounding me. I walk away. - Status Magazine

"Indie Showcase: Paranoid City"

It is high time the spotlight be focused also on our indie bands and acts. They form a deep well of diverse and amazing talents in the local scene. I will be showcasing once in a while an indie band or act that to my mind deserves a look and more attention. So below, let’s get to know Paranoid City:

INQ: What is the origin of your band ? Please give a brief history on how you came together to form your band.

Dax: In 2009 8bit and I (Dax) were of a new wave band that went on hiatus, not wanting to stop playing gigs I called up Eric Strange and proposed we do a side project. I knew that we needed a bassist and I called up 8-bit but he declined saying he didn’t want to play bass because it would be too familiar. I was listening to Yeah Yeah Yeah’s album “It’s Blitz” and proposed that he play the Synthesizer instead. The 3 of us went into the studio and managed to write 3 songs and cover Bloc Party’s “Sunday” over the course of a month or so. I got the name “Paranoid City” from a Seinfeld episode and it stuck. We eventually got a string of gigs and got a gig with Sandwich where in Raimund Marasigan inspired us to write more songs and take the band seriously. While performing gigs and writing songs we met 4-Track and invited him to session for us as a back up synth player. As time progressed we came up with our debut album “Viewfinder Dreams” and 4-Track became a permanent member.
INQ: What is the band’s musical influences ?
Dax: Our collective influences are mostly from the 80s New Wave era and the 90s OPM bands but it’s not limited to only that. We also listen to current music from pop, math rock, indie, hip hop to classical and the like. Individually we try not to limit ourselves to any specific genre when listening to music.

INQ: Can you describe your style of music to the unfamiliar?

Dax: Paranoid City in my opinion is divided into two dimensions. We have our music and we have our shows. From a music standpoint, we try to create music that is artistic but not too alienating. Most of our songs go through a complex writing process wherein every one gets a say. We basically write about anything and try really hard to not go overboard and stick to what’s right for a song. Our shows however are a whole different animal. We basically play our hearts out and just party.
INQ: What do you think of the current local scene ?
Dax: I believe that we are undergoing a transition with the all the new things happening with the music industry when it comes to technology and how to make money off it. The old formula of selling music is on the decline and with this transition a new formula will be discovered but as of now we are still in the “middle” of it. With the emergence and convenience of the internet, music is easily accessible and with that getting your music out there is easy too. The downside however is–with how easy it is to get music–people are valuing music a little less than before. I can name 10 great local indie acts that deserve a lot of attention and support but aren’t getting it because Mainstream Labels aren’t willing to invest and take risks anymore. - Inquirer Philippines

"Paranoid City goes on mini regional tour"

Manila synth dance rock band, Paranoid City is embarking on a mini regional tour next month, with stops in Singapore and Malaysia. This will be the group's live debut in KL and their second appearance in Singapore, following their stint at 2015's Rockin' the Region with Brisom and Birdforms.

We speak to Japo Araneta (keyboard and synths) about preparing for their upcoming overseas shows, including surprises for their fellow synthizens away from home.

How are your tour preparations coming along?

Japo: Our band is so excited right now about our mini-regional tour this June. We've been preparing for it by writing new songs and rehearsing our setlist. We wanna try to give our first-time audience a fun synthpop experience. We try as we can to try and show everyone that Paranoid City's not just a band, it's a shared experience for both the band and the audience. We'll also finish things with a fun covers set in SG that the Titos and Titas will love.

Do you guys have anything special planned for your fans in the cities you'll be visiting?

Japo: We're currently making something special for those who would care to support us (AKA: "SYNTHizens"). It's gonna be an exclusive treat for our friends outside of the Philippines. I don't know if it's still early to say this but, aside from our special exclusive surprise, we also did a collaboration with some of our friends in Malaysia. We'll just let them announce it first. - Bandwagon Singapore


Still working on that hot first release.



Formed June 2009, this Synthpop band from Manila, Philippines consists of DAX on Lead Vocals, Guitars, and Synth; 4TRACK on Vocals, Synthesizers, and Electric Piano; 8-BIT on Vocals, Bass and Lead Synthesizers; and ERIC STRANGE on Drums.

They have independently released a full-length album called "Viewfinder Dreams" in 2011, as well as a limited Southeast Asian exclusive release EP called "Transitions" in June 2016.

They have already released 3 Music Videos namely “Here We Are Here We Go,” directed by Robert Lyren in 2012; "Cold Hearts (in December)" directed by Jiggy Gregorio in 2015; and the soon-to-be-released (as of writing) "Just Like The Movies" directed by Gio Franco Alpuente.

Their song "Two Minutes to Paranoid City" was used in an online viral ad by popular local clothing brand Bayo bannered by popular TV and movie actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith.

The band has played in various countries around the region such as the Popscene Stage of the Culture One Outdoor Dance Music Festival 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand along with The Young Knives from the UK, The Standards from the UK/Thailand, Brett Newski & The Corruption from the US & other bands from Malaysia and Thailand.
Has played at Bazooka Rocks 3 Music Festival along with Echosmith, The Used, etc held last August 2014;
Performed for 3 straight nights at the coveted Esplanade Outdoor Theatre in Singapore for "Rocking The Region" last March 2015;
Went on a Southeast Asian Invasion Tour last June 22-25: Played at The Laundry in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia for Asian Connection, then culminated their mini-regional tour at Blowfish Bar in Singapore for Requiem Rising.
Recently held a mini-regional tour in Malaysia and Singapore named "The Southeast Asian Invasion" tour last June 22-25 started at Laundry Bar in Malaysia, and concluded at Blowfish Bar in Singapore
They were also Brand Ambassadors of Converse Philippines’ Jack Purcell sneaker line.

Band Members