If you're from Manila, Philippines, chances are you've already seen Janlor Encarnacion (aka JLE Music) stage-front at a local indie gig, wielding his camera and shooting the moments that you were too shy to take. Self-taught from the get-go, his breadth of work echoes his commitment to promoting, not just his unique take on music, but the bands themselves; something that is very rare in this day and age of self-promotion. This is as close as you can get to the bands that you've never heard of but probably should have.
Hello. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the work that you do?
I’m a banker by day - mostly looking at sales data and observing how the salespeople are doing. At night, I document gigs via photographs and videos. The photographs are for the moments. The videos are for a better representation of what an act can deliver. The official website launched at the start of the year, so I’m still in the process of learning how to write reviews about the gigs I go to. These all aim to give acts marketing material they could use to promote themselves.
How did you get into photography?
From being a failed singer/songwriter haha. I still wanted to do my share in promoting bands and prods so documentation was the next choice. I had to learn everything from scratch, though. Youtube and my uncle - who is an event photographer - were my resources early on.
How do you balance keeping a day job and documenting gigs that usually run late?
Scheduling as much as possible. If there’s an important meeting at work, I usually won’t go to a gig the night before. Early on, I’d be looking at gig schedules and going to one even in the middle of the week. Now, I prioritize Friday and Saturday gigs but I really miss the weekday ones - the great bands play under-attended weekday gigs just as well as packed weekend ones.
What inspired you to create JLE Music?
After my dad passed away and I’ve had time to grieve, I looked back on his life and the effect he’s had on the many people he’s helped. Work wasn’t great back then so I decided to play the guitar again - something I liked doing when I was still studying. Playing the guitar didn’t turn out well but with documentation, I could learn and I thought was the best way to help other people out.
How many gigs have you attended so far? Which one is the most memorable?
The commitment to myself was to attend at least 1 gig a week to get the practice in and when I was starting out, it was more than that haha. 52 weeks in a year times 3 years. That’s at least 156 gigs. I’m pretty sure I went to more haha. The most memorable one would probably be The Fete de la Musique Dream Pop/Shoegaze Stage 2018. It was my first time to cover an event that big and that long. It was also the first time I worked with a team on documentation - Grois Enayo took photos while I took video. I learned that I needed more people for bigger events haha.
What do you like about the local music scene and what do you think needs to be improved?
I like that the local music scene has a lot of talent waiting to be discovered - people just need to take the risk to go out and watch or listen to the first 30 seconds of a new song. The local scene needs improvement on accessibility. Earlier ending times would help weekday gigs. Cheaper entrance fees could also bring more people but at the risk of paying the performers less and the prod struggling to meet the bar guarantee and other expenses.
Show us a photo that best represents JLE Music.
What's the most challenging part of maintaining JLE Music?
The fatigue - it gets harder to recover every passing year.
... and what do you most enjoy about it?
Meeting new friends and discovering new music. I’ve met so many of my really good friends because of JLE Music. It’s also a great stress reliever from the workweek.