A chat with Manila-based emo-prog musician Empty the Ocean

(photo by Kiko Nuñez)

Empty the Ocean is the emo-prog solo effort of Filipino singer and multi-instrumentalist Gino Tambuatco. With this project, his main goal is to make sense of his feelings and translate that to people, in hopes of making them feel less alone.

When he’s not working on his solo project, his other ventures include working on his YouTube channel and playing guitar for indie band Turn Me on Holly.

Having just released his debut album on tape, we decided to sit down for a quick chat with the artist.

Tell us more about Empty the Ocean.

“I wanted to try making a solo project. I had no band at the time, and in the middle of it all, a bunch of personal stuff happened with me and some friends. I guess that ended up making things last longer.

In the end, I came up with a lot of emo-influenced stuff. I wanted to make music without compromise because when you’re in a band, you have to write with everyone else in mind. I wanted to try doing things by myself and see what happens. It was more difficult than I expected.”

What is the inspiration behind this project?

“If we’re talking about musical inspiration, I listen to bands like Deerhunter and Everything Everything, and math bands like Fall of Troy, Tera Melos, and Toe. But I never really set out to make a specific genre of music. I just went with what I felt, and I guess I’m also influenced by my experiences—heartbreak, sadness, and all that shit. These songs are me venting my excess feelings into music.”

As a musician who has always played in bands, what are some ups and downs in working solo?

“Learning to sing, mix, and use a DAW properly were super hard. In the end, I had my friend mix and master for me. It was also difficult getting album art—I ended up asking my sister if I could take a picture of her painting, which I wrote my name on top of.

It’s fun seeing everything come together, but I had to learn a lot of things along the way. Like, there’s this riff in ‘Rendezvous’ I couldn’t nail, and I ended up breaking so much strings just trying to play it right.

The biggest challenge was also finding an audience, which I thought would be the easy part, because writing, recording, and producing were already so difficult. But then, whoops, turns out this is the most difficult part. I just hope people like the album.”

What are the stories behind your decision with the album art and the name of your solo project?

“The name Empty the Ocean comes from a story told when I was in Catholic school. It was an analogy about how trying to understand God is like trying to empty the ocean with a bucket, or something like that. It just sounded epic, and the name wasn’t taken yet. Plus, it’s perfect because I’m expressing my feelings and trying to understand my emotions, so in this way, I’m trying ‘to empty the ocean.’ That’s also why the album is self-titled.

For the album art, the usage of the heart was a coincidence. It was one of my sister’s paintings, and I couldn’t find anyone to make me art. In the end, it turned out looking good!”

As a seasoned artist, what advice would you give up-and-coming artists?

“Learn stuff! Don’t be afraid to try new things. If other people can do it, then so can you.”

Lastly, can you give a short spiel for those just coming to know about you?

“Hi, I’m Gino. I play guitar. I was part of some bands like Manila Under Fire, which saw a bit of success (it won at a Red Horse Muziklaban), but I had to leave for personal reasons. I’m currently part of this indie pop band called Turn Me on Holly and, now, my solo project called Empty the Ocean.”


// Purchase “Empty the Ocean” tapes here
// Follow Empty the Ocean on Facebook

~Words by joe-chu

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