Ebe Dancel

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Ebe Dancel is a Filipino pop rock musician and songwriter. Dancel is the former lead vocalist of the band Sugarfree, and was active from 1999 to 2011. Dancel pursued a solo career right after his departure from the band and has released two albums since then.

History

Vincent Ferdinand “Ebe” Dancel was born and raised in Ilagan, Isabela in 1976. Dancel grew up in a rural town raised by a religious family and was interested in becoming a priest at an early age. Dancel became a sacristan and passed the examinations for the seminary. During the same time, Dancel was also admitted to UP Rural High School, a full-state university high school with a science-based curriculum. Dancel eventually lost interest in becoming a priest, stating that it was not his place.

During his TED Talk in October 2017, Dancel reminisced about the day that music “found” him. It was when his older brother bought a guitar that he would play for hours on end.  “Whenever he would leave for school, I’d sneak into his room and start to learn my favorite songs,” Dancel revealed.

Sugarfree

It was during college in the University of the Philippines when Dancel started to compose his own music, putting up a few bands as he went along the way. None of the bands worked out until 1999, when he met the people who he formed Sugarfree with. It wasn’t an easy rise to the top. When they were able to put up demos and submit them to record labels, the band went through the usual rejection stage.

“Some people didn’t really believe that our album would sell or amount to anything,” said Dancel in an interview, adding that he did not lose hope.

“But I kept pushing on. So little by little we got shows, the album started selling, the songs started playing on the radio, and the shows started getting bigger.”

And bigger did the band get. Throughout their career, Sugarfree became one of the country’s most well loved bands. Dancel fronted the band for 12 years, leading Sugarfree to rock icon status. The band released 4 studio albums, gained numerous awards, composed soundtracks for both TV and film, and sold out concerts all over the country.

Sugarfree is considered one of the most influential and iconic bands in the country, with a discography that contributed substance and taste to the standard of Filipino musicianship. Using Dancel’s personal savings of P18,000, Sugarfree recorded their demos which they submitted to record labels.

In 2003, Sugarfree released Sa Wakas, the highly successful debut containing modern OPM classics such as “Mariposa,” “Telepono,” and “Unang Araw.” CNN Philippines dubbed it to be “the finest album about heartbreak and loneliness ever recorded in Pinoy rock history.”

The band released three more albums, Dramachine (2004), Tala-Arawan (2006), and Mornings and Airports (2009). In 2008, Sugarfree released a live album with the Manila Symphony Orchestra which was exclusively distributed by Dencio’s.

In 2011, Dancel announced his departure from the band, saying that the pressures of fame and fatigue caught up on him. Despite going their separate ways, Dancel assured Sugarfree fans all members are in good terms towards each other.

“This is probably one of the few breakups that the members of the band don’t end up hating each other,” said Dancel.

In 2011, Dancel announced his departure from the band, saying that the pressures of the touring lifestyle had begun to take its toll on him and the other members of the band. Just a few months later and after working behind the scenes for other musicians, Dancel released his first solo album called Dalawang Mukha Ng Pag-Ibig under Star Records.

In 2015, Dancel released his sophomore record called Bawat Daan, in which he collaborated with more mainstream musicians such as Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, KZ Tandingan, and Yeng Constantino.

On June 9, 2018, Dancel co-headlined a concert held in Kia Theater called “Iisa” with Bullet Dumas and Johnoy Danao. The concert featured The Manila String Orchestra who provided ornate arrangements for all three musicians.

In an interview, Dancel reveals that if he did not become a musician, he would probably be involved in a NGO supporting the education of unprivileged children.

Solo Career

Leaving the Sugarfree in 2011 meant Dancel left a legacy, which he prolonged when he continued to write and produce tracks for several artists in the industry. Dancel was tasked to help create the musical identity of Warner Music-backed band, General Luna, and it was during this time that he decided to make his solo album.

In 2011, Dancel released the record, Dalawang Mukha Ng Pag-Ibig, which was later released as a double CD record, with acoustic versions of the songs in the second CD. The album’s carrier single, “Muli,” showed Dancel’s familiar musicality: heartfelt and sensitive lyrics, driving guitars, and breezy drum parts.

Dancel released a second album in 2015 called Bawat Daan, and it features a more dynamic musicianship, featuring collaborations with respected local musicians. The album featured “Padayon,” Dancel’s commissioned song for Manny Pacquiao’s biopic, “Kid Kulafu.”

The musician held a listening party for Bawat Daan in his restaurant, Entablado, in November 2015. After playing the songs from a smartphone connected to the loud speakers, Dancel talked about each song and his creative process. It was also during the talk when he revealed that he suffered from laryngitis during the recording of the album.

In a post by Esquire, Dancel openly shares how music has “saved his life.”

“It’s given me a comfortable life. It’s put me in a unique position to help other people. And I mean, come, on, you get paid to do what you love and you make people happy – I don’t think it gets better than that.”

Music

If there’s one thing Ebe Dancel is known for, it’s his ability to compose emotionally charged songs that are deep-rooted into the psyche of Filipino music fans. Because of its solid musicality and appeal, the songs he writes are transcendent, pulling in fans from all genres and tastes.

Songwriting

​Mesmerized by Tagalog as a dialect, Dancel studied Creative Writing from the University of Philippines Diliman and it shows in the way he writes his songs. His songwriting style is regarded as sad-poetic and relatable, with his lyrics often displaying metaphors that show his impressive skills as a writer.

Dancel recalls a specific moment during a non-fiction writing class that inspired his writing, and that was when his professor Marra Lanot told him, “you have your whole life to write about.”

Dancel’s lyrics touch on heartaches, failure, sadness, and romantic mishaps, and it is why fans are heavily drawn to his music. In an interview published by Spot.ph, Dancel credited his style of songwriting to a Swedish band called Popsicle. He described how he was fascinated by their way of blending happy melodies with sad, “suicidal” lyrics.

Because of Dancel’s outstanding lyricism, he became a mentor in the Elements Singing and Songwriting Camp. He says that being in the program allowed him to learn “what it’s really like to be a musician of substance.” Talking to Esquire, Dancel wishes for young musicians to write more in Tagalog.

It’s not all depressive, ill-fated romantic themes for Dancel. In an interview with Rappler, the rocker admits that his style of writing lyrics changed throughout the years, more especially when he got married.

“I obviously can’t write the way I used to when I made those heartbreak songs and strung them together to come up with the [old Sugarfree albums). I feel that to this day, some fans expect me to stay that way,” said the singer.

“But just like everyone else, I’ve learned to move on. I’m in a different place now, and I like talking about that. We spin along with the world,” continued Dancel.

Ebe Dancel Album and Songlist Discography

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Dalawang Mukha Ng Pag-Ibig – (2011 Warner Music Philippines)

1. Muli
2. Isang Probinsyano sa Maynila
3. Wag Kang Mag-Alala
4. Luha
5. Maligalig
6. Paalam Kahapon
7. Hanggang Sa Dulo
8. Lapit
9. Ikaw Ang Aking Tahanan
10. Wag Na Tayong Mag-Away

Bawat Daan – (2015 Star Music)

1. Bawat Daan
2. Kasayaw
3. Prom (ft. Yeng Constantino)
4. Hanggang Wala Nang Bukas
5. Dapithapon
6. Wag Ka Nang Umiyak (ft. KZ Tandingan)
7. Lakambini
8. Padayon
9. Halik Sa Hangin
10. Ang Probinsyano (ft. Gloc-9)
11. Makita Kang Muli (ft. Regine Velasquez-Alcasid)
12. Lakambini Ko

Other Releases / Compilation Albums:

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Ebe Dancel Members

Dancel has worked with several session players and musicians throughout his career.

Past Members

Still under construction... Check back soon!

Other Related Information

Other Projects

Dancel was also a member of several bands, including Cambio, where he played alongside Raimund Marasigan (Eraserheads, Sandwich), Kris Dancel (Fatal Posporos), Diego Mapa (Monsterbot), and Buddy Zabala (Eraserheads).

Aside from actively playing guitars and providing back-up vocals from other bands, Dancel also wrote and produced tracks for SinoSikat?, Nyoy Volante, and all-female rock band, General Luna. He also composed and arranged songs for the acclaimed musical Emir, by Chito Roño.

Dancel was also involved in the creation of Rock Ed Rizal, a compilation album to celebrate the 150th birthday of country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Other musicians featured in the album were Radioactive Sago Project, Hijo, Aiza Seguerra, Peryodiko, Gloc-9, and Ely Buendia.

Elements Music Camp

Dancel is a songwriting panelist and mentor for the annual National Elements Singer-Songwriter Camp, led by premier composer, Ryan Cayabyab. The camp is a 5-day songwriting workshop paneled by OPM’s greatest acts, with the sole purpose to improve the skills of young and aspiring musicians.

Musicians who were previously members of the camp are Bullet Dumas, Clara Benin, Kat Agarrado, Kai Honasan, Ben & Ben, Moira dela Torre. Other panelists include Joey Ayala, Gary Granada, Chito Miranda, Gabby Alipe, Jim Paredes, among many others.

Sa Wakas: A Pinoy Rock Musical

Sa Wakas is an acclaimed Filipino rock musical based on and featuring the songs of Sugarfree, and was titled after the band’s debut album. Presented by Culture Shock Productions, the musical had a successful run in 2013. Because of the musical’s success, it was produced again and was presented for a final run from April to May 2017.

Sugarfree’s songs were tweaked to match the musical’s tone and storyline, and Dancel was heavily involved in the rewriting process and during the rehearsals.

The musical follows the story of 3 individuals involved in situations where love is at its final, most painful stages, and at the same time, when it is just about to begin. The musical garnered positive reviews from all major media outlets, citing it to be a “marvel.”

Sa Wakas the musical proved to be a predestined opportunity for Dancel. In an interview with GMA News, Dancel revealed that Sugarfree’s last album was meant for onstage production. Dancel says that the musical was a “dream come true” for him.

TED Talk

In 2015, Dancel delivered a TED Talk entitled “How Music Saved Me,” held in the University of the Philippines Auditorium. In the talk, Dancel opened by quoting himself in one of his songs, and then shared his main mantra in life, “walang galing sa wala.”

He stresses that this mindset helped him find who he his and how music saved his life in many instances.

Atin Ang Gabi Digital Concert

On May 13, 2018, Dancel performed his first digital concert that was streamed digitally through the website, OneMusic.ph. Special guests include Barbie Almalbis, Ben & Ben, and Manila String Machine.

Entablado in Los Banos

Dancel owns a restaurant in Los Baños, Laguna called “Entablado.” Entablado offers coffee and simple comfort food. The restaurant is also the setting of comedy nights, open mics, and occasional sets from Dancel and his peers in the industry. Acts who have played in Entablado include Pedicab, Ian Penn, Bullet Dumas, and Johnoy Danao.

Ebe Dancel Music Videos and Other Media

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Live Performance Videos (Playlist)

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Official Music Videos (Playlist)

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Official Lyric Videos & Other Content (Playlist)

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Ebe Dancel Awards And Recognition

Awit Awards

Won: Song of the Year – Bawat Daan (2016)
Won: Best Inspirational/ Religious Song – Bawat Daan (2016)
Won: Best World Music Recording – Kasayaw (2016)
Won: Best Song Written for Movie/ TV/ Stage Play – Ang Probinsyano (2016)
Won: Music Video of the Year –Sirena (2013
Won: Best Alternative Recording – Burnout (2004)

Star Awards for Movies

Nominated: Movie Original Theme Song of the Year – Ang Panday for “Ang Panday” (2018)
Nominated: Movie Original Theme Song of the Year – Hanggang Wala Nang Bukas for “Heneral Luna” (2015)
Nominated: Movie Original Theme Song of the Year – Huwag Ka Nang Umiyak ft. KZ Tandingan for “The Trial” (2014)
Nominated: Digital Movie Original Theme Song of the Year – Ang Puso Kong Musmos ft. Carina Evangelista for “Pisay” (2007)

Golden Screen Award

Won: Best Original Song – Ang Puso Kong Musmos ft. Carina Evangelista for “Pisay” (2008)

FAMAS Awards

​Nominated: Best Original Theme Song – Wag Ka Nang Umiyak ft. KZ Tandingan for “The Trial”

References:

https://www.esquiremag.ph/long-reads/what-ive-learned/what-ive-learned-ebe-dancel-a00203-20180608-lfrm
http://ssp.ph/youngster/index.php/youngster-columns/inspire-hub/item/a-roadtrip-with-ebe-dancel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYhVcHoX74s
http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/lifestyle/content/234238/ebe-dancel-launches-debut-solo-album/story/
https://www.spot.ph/entertainment/entertainment-peopleparties/49067/on-the-spot-ebe-dancel
http://adobomagazine.com/ebe-dancels-solo-debut-out-now-2-cd-limited-edition-album
https://www.pep.ph/guide/music/7469/ebe-dancel-puts-sugarfree-behind-focuses-on-solo-career
https://www.philstar.com/entertainment/2014/11/10/1390164/natl-music-camp-tells-musicians-find-your-place-history
https://www.pep.ph/guide/music/9034/ebe-dancel-launches-his-solo-album-dalawang-mukha-ng-pag-ibig
https://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/arts-and-culture/199880-sa-wakas-musical-review
http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/lifestyle/content/305754/ebe-dancel-takes-us-behind-the-music-the-curtains-of-sa-wakas/story/
http://www.sawakasmusical.com/about-the-show/
http://themanilareview.com/issues/view/uncovering-beginnings-in-sa-wakas
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugarfree_(Filipino_band)
https://www.rappler.com/entertainment/music/116351-look-back-elements-singing-songwriting-camp-2015
https://www.rappler.com/entertainment/1734-of-love-songs-and-love-stories
https://www.lionheartv.net/2016/01/ebe-dancel-bawat-daan/
http://primer.com.ph/event/2018/04/09/johnoy-danao-ebe-dancel-and-bullet-dumas-to-stage-big-concert-at-kia-theatre/
https://www.facebook.com/entabladololb/
http://cnnphilippines.com/life/entertainment/music/2018/01/04/sa-wakas-15-years.html

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