Photo by Steven Truong @struongyo
If you don’t already know him, Manila Killa is an artist that you have to check out. Formally known as Chris Gavino, he has accomplished more than most at the young age of 25. Gavino is a former member of Hotel Garuda as well as a co-founder of Moving Castle, an independent record label. Gavino is just getting started with 2019 headlining his own tour following the release of his debut EP. Surprisingly, Gavino worked on both of his artist projects, Hotel Garuda & Manila Killa, as well as building Moving Castle whilst still pursuing a college degree in Business Management full-time! Last year, he worked with his Moving Castle team to put together the first ever Moving Castle World, a one day festival at The Fonda in LA. As you can see, Gavino is not just your average future bass producer, he is a true music curator and a real business-man.
Gavino was born in the US, but had a father who’s job required a lot of travel. Gavino found himself moving to the Philippines and Indonesia before ending up back in the US. This diverse cultural background will always stick with him and reflect in his music and ideas. He first discovered his passion for music back in high school at a Battle of the Bands where he realized that he could create music himself from a laptop. He began teaching himself Ableton on his own and years later, he has tens of millions of streams online, received major festival billings, and prominent press coverage from Insomniac, Billboard, Ones to Watch, and more. Last year, Gavino left Hotel Garuda to focus solely on Manila Killa and Moving Castle full time. This year, he released his debut EP 1993 and is currently on his own headlining US tour accompanied by AObeats (co-founder of Moving Castle), ilo ilo, Melvv, and Covex. I had the honor of seeing his show in NYC at Brooklyn Steel this past Saturday 4/27 with 1800 of his fans and I have to say it was a show I’ll never forget.
Manila Killa stood on stage with a clear DJ booth in front of him that had a laptop, a microphone, drum pads, and an array of electronic instruments. He began to play his soothing music and the first thing that drew me in was, of course, his incredible visuals. They consisted of high quality images and videos of our very own planet. From the ocean, to the sun shining through it, to the mountains, to the beautiful glow of our cities, to the Northern Lights, and more. I almost felt like I was watching National Geographic’s Planet Earth. Check out a photo of the wave visuals below!
He mixed in those videos with beautiful glass like reflective designs of his logo as well as the name of the tour, 1993, rotating on an axis. At one point the visuals consisted of what looked like a never ending matrix of neon blocks coming towards the crowd quickly, a very futuristic vibe to go with his future bass sound. When he played ‘All2U’ Ft. Sara Skinner these neon blocks turned into a network that took the shape of a sphere and exploded into a vortex of colors coming directly at the crowd. Manila Killa played the drum pad live during the performance of this track as well to really enhance the performance. When he played ‘Skin’ Ft. outsideOUTSIDE the visuals transitioned to a video of two hands holding each other, suspended in the air, spinning, in an endless field of orange tulips. Manila Killa actually sang this song live while he performed it to take it to the next level, check out a photo below.
Throughout Manila Killa’s performance, he had white, blue, purple, pink, yellow, and green lights bouncing around in circles on the stage. The lighting was never truly directed at the crowd though, as if to draw people’s attention only to the stage. This was a unique lighting approach which I really enjoyed. The most incredible part of Manila Killa’s set was when he brought out the Day One Dance Project to perform a choreographed performance to ‘Atypical’ Ft. GiGi! Gavino himself even came out of his booth mid-performance and finished the dance with them center stage. You can see a photo of this below!
To top it all off, the merchandise for this tour was really cool. Manila Killa had a red bomber for sale with his logo across the chest in white as well as a blue jersey that really stood out to me. Lastly, those of his fans who purchased a VIP experience received a custom calimansi lychee drink made in partnership with Boba Guys which is actually only available for the three of the shows: NYC, SF, and LA. This truly gave Manila Killa’s die hard fans a unqiue piece of his culture. Check out a photo below!
If all of this wasn’t enough to impress you, go check out Manila Killa live when he comes through your city. I promise you’ll have an experience that you won’t be able to forget! Tickets here: http://manilakilla.com/#tour