Kalayo speaks fully and boldly with instruments you may have never heard before, but are familiar and comfortable all at once, harmonized to the standard bass, drums and guitars. This is the balance of complexity and familiarity that Kalayo brings - music that can be heard only from our shores, and yet blurs boundaries of language and genre. Kalayo's musical career has taken them across the globe, playing for various international music festivals and connecting Filipino world music across the continents.Kalayo was born in 2008 out of world music group Pinikipikan with musical director and lead guitarist Sammy Asuncion, bassist Louie Talan, drummer Chirstian Reli De Vera, Boy Garrovillo who plays the djembe, tungatong, kubing, kartals, and shakers, Budeths Casinto on the darbuka and kulintang, and Deej Roridguez on the traditional log drums/surdo/floor tom, djembe, congas, bongos, bougarabou, chimes, effect cymbals, blocks, tambourines, African rattlers, and shakers.
The core group of Kalayo - composed of Asuncion, Garrovillo, Talan and Casinto have been playing and writing songs together for a long time. The four, along with front-woman Carol Bello, were the prime creative forces behind the group Pinikpikan, and are largely responsible for it's local and international success. Upon the complicated falling out of Pinikpikan's talents, management and benefactors, the four decided to push forward as a new unit (prioritizing the music over petty squabbling over the band name, rights, etc..). The group wanted to continue performing together, as bassist Talan, also serving as the band's technical director explains, "It was always about the music for us four. We also felt with this new "indie" set-up, with less machinery and less egos to tiptoe around, we could write with much more freedom and come up with more honest material. We intentionally wanted to explore a more aggressive side with the new Kalayo songs. More heavy pounding rhythms but at the same time, explore our rich musical heritage harmonically." Eventually de Vera and Rodriguez were recruited to complete the current Kalayo line-up.
So what is new about Kalayo? "Kalayo itself is new," Talan says, "Although you can definitely hear the Pinikpikan magic in there - probably because 80% of Pinikpikan's creative force is in Kalayo."
As pioneers of world music in the Philippines, the artists of Kalayo are constantly evolving and relentlessly growing individually and collectively, propelling Original Filipino music. While Pinikpikan has worked with almost everyone in Filipino world music, Kalayo is currently cooking up a long term collaboration with Bayang Barrios. "We always thought it would be a great fit," expresses Talan. "In fact, when Carol Bello decided to leave the group, our first instinct was to ask Bayang to come on board. However, she was busy promoting her album "Alon" during the time. So instead, we decided to push through recording an album as an all male 6 piece."
Kalayo intends to continue breaking more ground in the world music circles abroad. The group hopes to be involved in more recordings, more participation in festivals abroad and eventually make more of a dent for Filipino world music locally.