Unbeknownst to most in the western world, the capital of the Philippines has an increasingly thriving music scene. Thanks to platforms such as Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and Twitter, more and more artists from the Philippines have been able to get their music heard. One of the most exciting Filipino artists is No Rome, who initially gained traction with his eye-catching "shoegaze R&B" genre tag on SoundCloud.

Building upon the tag after gaining the attention of Ryan Hemsworth's Secret Songs, No Rome has continued to evolve and improve his dreamy sound. Expanding the concept while maintaining what attracted listeners to his music in the first place, No Rome has found his voice by stripping everything else away. The reverb and effects have been dialed back, and his music is all the better for it, placing a larger emphasis on his vocals.

Despite keeping busy with college papers, No Rome found the time to talk with us about his ambitions for 2017.

Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I'm Rome and I'm from Manila.

How long have you been making music?

It's been three or four years as No Rome. I used to go under a different alias when I was younger, but that's an old secret of mine. It's still on the internet I think.

Did you approach Lontalius before sampling him for "Flowers On My Neck"?

Yes! I DMed him on Twitter like a week before I released the track. I was actually super shy about it and had to ask if he was mad at me, but he said it was alright. I'm very honored he let me sample his track.

A lot of your older songs have the tag "shoegaze R&B" attached to them. Would you say that you've moved away from that self-described label into something a bit more immediate since?

It's two things that inspire me a lot, but I guess I don't use that tag anymore. I still try to emulate the concept behind it though.

There's a lot of openness when it comes to your lyrics, whether it's through expressing your emotions or leaving words to interpretation. Is this a conscious effort or do you think it's a byproduct of how you write?

I feel like being more open makes the world feel a lot more. There's actually more to it than how [it's] projected, but I guess like art it'll always be on your understanding. Whatever it is you think the song means is what it means. Most of the things I write are about personal experiences and perspectives, hoping the world understands the way I feel and hope they feel the same. I want to run away from feeling alone.

Do you see yourself as part of your local scene or someone a little more connected with the rest of the world?

I've always dreamed of going around the world and making it. I want to be connected with the rest of the world!

Are you working on a large body of work this year?

I'm trying to make an album and maybe make it bigger, get a record deal, move to USA or Europe or something. I have dreams.

No Rome.
Photo by Gabriel Gomez & Lea Barbasa

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