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Funk band Flu’s ‘Tito tunes’ are here to make you dance

By Neal Corpus Published Jan 30, 2020 6:00 am

When I first heard that there existed a local band called Flu I thought, “Whaat?” But when I heard that they were a funk band, I became curious. There aren’t a lot of those on the local scene, to say the least, and definitely not a lot that describe their music as “Tito tunes.”

Flu, composed of Dieter Bautista (bass), Luigi Aganinta (guitar), John Rae Rebano (guitar), Randall Enriquez (drums) and Deus Vergel de Dios (vocals), is the first band of newly minted music label Funky Records.

The genesis of the band stems from a thesis requirement and evolved almost like a happy accident. All of the guys are music production graduates (except for Deus, who is an industrial designer), so they really have a sharp ear for what sounds good, which really shows up in their music. 

To date, the band has released three singles: Fine Day, Get Down and ’93, all of which have a fully-realized funk sound that’s perfect for a Sunday morning coffee, a breezy rooftop evening with friends, or a cruise around town late at night — either way, you’re going to find yourself shimmying a little bit while listening. 

On the other hand, their fourth single, which launches today, is a little bit slower and more emotional. Titled Is This the Love That I Need?, the track talks about modern love and relationships, and whether or not what you see in the movies is what you really want. We sat down with the band to talk about their new single, their influences, and what’s coming up for them this year.

YOUNG STAR: What’s your songwriting process like? Is it led by one member, or do you guys all chip in to complete songs? 

DIETER BAUTISTA: For the album, I wrote most of the tunes, and co-wrote some of them with the other members. I give a demo, they listen to it overnight, and then at the next rehearsal, we jump right into it. See what feels right, see what’s lacking, and then we pitch in our ideas and then it evolves into a new thing. That’s basically how it goes.

  Formed just last year, Flu (composed of John Rae Rebano, Dieter Bautista, Deus Vergel de Dios, Randall Enriquez, and Luigi Aganinta) is in for an exciting 2020.

Tell me about your new single Is This the Love That I Need? What’s the story behind the song? Did you also write it, Dieter? 

It’s not a firsthand experience for the lyrics, but it’s mostly about, I guess, what you see in movies and what you hear from friends or people complaining about the modern dating scene. It’s mostly about feeling a conflict of wanting more from someone, but realizing or accepting that that’s just as good as it gets. That’s what the song revolves around.

How would you describe the sound of Flu, and from where do you draw your references?

LUIGI AGANINTA: Siguro meron kaming magkakaparehas na mga gustong tunog, like ‘yung tunog nga namin, tinatawag naming “tito tunes,” kasi ‘yung influence ng mga pinapankinggan namin, tunog ng mga naririnig namin sa mga tatay namin, sa mga lumang records na naririnig namin. Mostly ‘yun ‘yung mga influence namin, and nai-incorporate siya sa mga tunog na ginagawa namin ngayon.

“We try to make our own song based on the emotion, the style… until we change a few things, then it becomes our own at the end of it.”

DEUS VERGEL DE DIOS: Nakuha ko yung influences ko sa tito ko. Tapos since sabay kami nung high school pa lang, sabay din kami nag-grow sa taste ng music ni Luigi. 

DIETER: Lahat naman ng parents namin, hindi musicians, so walang bias ‘yung pinarinig samin (growing up), walang “Ah, eto magaling mag-gitara, grabe ‘yung vocal range nito — ‘yung bottomline lang nung music is that it feels good. Mapapa-smile ka, or if ‘yung intention mo is umiyak, iiyak ka. It’s grounded by ‘yung emotion na nadadala nung songs. ‘Yun yung goal din namin sa lahat ng songs namin. 

Do these references directly influence the music that you make? 

DIETER: Yes, definitely, kasi a lot of the songs — well, one example is this single, but also on the album — is may mga favorite songs kami, minsan for two weeks may favorite song kami as a group, and then ija-jam namin. We’ll play it, and suddenly, mamaya parang, “Oh, it’d be nice if may sarili tayong… not version, but may song tayo na parang ganito rin.” So we try to make our own song based on the emotion, the style… until we change a few things, then it becomes our own at the end of it. 

You guys are just about to hit 100,000 streams for your first single Fine Day, and you’ll also be playing in Wanderland come March. How are you guys feeling about all of this?

  While Flu describes their sound as “tito tunes,” the band’s songs definitely aren’t snoozers — in fact, they might just get you to dance.

 LUIGI: Ako, ‘di ko in-expect. Nung nagsimula ako mag-gitara and gumawa ng music… gusto ko lang tumugtog. ‘Di ko in-expect na may mga tao na makikinig at matutuwa, or may mafi-feel at least, kung ano mang emotion ‘yun, kung malungkot or masisiyahan sila. Pero ‘yung fact na naaapektuhan, masaya ako para dun. 

DIETER: I think lahat naman tayo nag-start sa dahil mahilig lang kumanta, mag-gitara, mag-bass, mag-drums. And ‘yung magandang part is, kaya tumutuloy kasi ganun pa rin, gusto lang namin tumugtog. Nadala lang na may opportunity na pwede ring ma-sustain ‘yung living namin. Parang bonus part na lang ‘yun. Pero ‘yung main part is the fact na nakakasulat kami, nakaka-jam, and play for people live. ‘Yun yung fun part eh. 

Dieter, your full album is dropping pretty soon. What can listeners expect from it? Are there any surprises? 

I think there are a few songs there that don’t sound like the first four singles so medyo surprise attack siguro ‘yun. Pero the others, they feel just as good as the rest.

Stream Flu’s latest single Is This the Love That I Need? on Spotify, and follow them at @followflu on Instagram.

Photos by Renzo Navarro