Text by: Kimmy Baraoidan
Photos by: Chris Quintana and Kimmy Baraoidan
DreadKnot Used was another band that caught my fancy during the Nalu Music Fest last May 1 to 3, 2015 in Baler, Aurora. Members include Ram Yparraguirre on vocals, VJay “Krayzie-V” Dano on rhythm guitar and additional vocals, Earl Canilias on lead guitar, Leal Nanca on keyboards and additional vocals, Teejay Cesario on bass, AJ Cosca on drums, and Alvin Del Rosario on percussion. According to their Facebook page, the Manila-based group was formed in early 2006 and has been playing since in surfing competitions, and ska and reggae festivals; and has been active in the Manila reggae scene. They have also gotten some radio airplay on a couple of local radio stations in the metro. They recently released their self-titled EP, which contains original and cover songs.
Little did I know that the guy sitting in front of me, with a toddler sleeping soundly beside him, on the bus going to Baler was vocalist Ram. DreadKnot Used was easily one of my favorite reggae acts during the music fest, mainly because they incorporated hip-hop into their music, with VJay rapping in some of their songs. That’s extra swagger points for me. I have this fixation with fusing hip-hop with other genres, and for me it adds to a song’s overall impact. Reggae is not exactly my forte, but I do know a good song when I hear one. The band’s hypnotic bass lines, syncopated drum beats, and crunchy guitar riffs produce an edgy sound, not exactly your happy-high, laid-back kind of reggae, more like a cool, rude-boy kind of reggae. The fine aural details from the keyboards and percussion further enhance their flavor.
Every band needs a frontman who can carry himself or herself on stage like a boss, and that’s exactly what vocalist Ram does. His long dreadlocks, which are down to his thighs, swayed as he moved on stage. They are light and fast whips, and you better not be standing in his way the moment he turns around and those locks gain momentum. His stage presence was good enough to engage the crowd, and later on he was joined by VJay and then by reggae artist Kokoi Baldo. I already lost it at that point. I didn’t want their set to end. In one of their songs, he even let his son share the stage and mic with him, with the little toddler dancing and hollering like the boss that his dad is. Good job, man. Start them young.
During the bus ride from Baler to Manila, Ram was again sitting in front of me, with his son and the mother of his child beside him. What a cool family they were going to become, I thought. Meanwhile, his other bandmates were somewhere at the back of the bus, joking around or sound tripping. I wonder when and where they were playing next, and I made a mental note to check out their Facebook page and and gig schedule. If time and resources permit, I would definitely watch them again. DreadKnot Used is set to play at Irie Sunday on May 30 at B-Side The Collective, Makati City.