“I never would’ve imagined that the first song I’ll be writing for Narda is a song about kids—my kids, nieces, and nephews, to be exact,” says Tani Santos, guitarist for studio-based indie-pop band Narda. “And all along, I thought I would be writing a rock song.”
Slated for release on all streaming platforms on Friday, November 19, in time for International Children’s Day, ‘Milya’ is the band’s third single under Island Records Philippines.
This time around, with Tani Santos on writing duties, the band experimented with yet another musical idiom—toytronica, a form of electronica composed using toy instruments, found sounds, and improvised percussion tools.
Popularized by British band PSAPP in the early Aughts, toytronica is a style that has been unknowingly explored by many OPM artists such as Ryan Cayabyab, The Eraserheads (on their “Prologue” and “Tapsilogue” tracks of their Sticker Happy LP), The Itchyworms, Pedicab, Ciudad, and The Ransom Collective.
Ryan Villena, drummer and leader of the band, says, “We produced this song at the height of the pandemic when most music stores were still closed. Being that most of us in the band are parents to toddlers, there were a lot of toys and kid’s instruments lying around in our living rooms. And with that, the idea for a toytronica song lent itself.”
And true enough, Villena, a seasoned drummer and percussionist who has done session work for the likes of Brownman Revival, Ely Buendia, and Rico Blanco, made use with what was available in their household: salt and pepper shakers, poker chips, frog guiros, finger cymbals, and ice cream buckets.
Guitarist Nico Africa, himself a doting father to two children, Isla and Ezra, (the latter who was born in the midst of the nationwide lockdown), says, “When we heard the demo that Tani made and read through his lyrics, we all thought that it was all just random wordplay, as the lyrics could come off as weird to the casual listener. It turns out that he was channeling his inner two-year-old soul, while inspired by his own kids.”
As for the peculiar song title, Santos says, “’Milya’ is a play on the word pamilya, a sort of abbreviation. I wanted the title to be playful. Ayaw ko na sa title pa lang ay gets na agad ng listeners tungkol saan ‘yung kanta.”
The song is a psychedelic nursery rhyme that borrows ideas from The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine albums, as well as songs from the ‘80s children’s show Batibot—the 2010 revival of which had Ryan Villena himself as a principal cast member.
In making the song, Santos says, “Since it’s my first time to write a song for the band, I wanted it to be something that I could dedicate to my family. The melody came first. Then I placed the lyrics, making sure the names of my kids and their cousins were all there.”
Katwo Puertollano, vocalist and frontwoman, who’s expecting her first child in just a few weeks’ time, says, “We’re excited about this new single, mainly because it’s all about the joys of being a parent.”
Narda’s ‘Milya’ is out now on Spotify, Apple Music, and all streaming platforms under Island Records Philippines. Follow @nardabanda and @islandrecordsph on Facebook and Instagram.