"I just try to make sure the quality is as good as I want it to be. I’m your indie Kanye."
Idris Vicuña – the Filipino hip-hop artist better known as Eyedress – has a slow, syrupy voice, thick and sweet. Speaking to him is like listening to someone talk through treacle. He is spaced out during our conversation, languorous and palpably exhausted, so it isn’t a huge surprise when he tells me that he is on a massive mushroom comedown and feeling a bit out of it having arrived in a rain-drenched Paris after an all-nighter in Amsterdam where he and his band performed the night before.
“We took magic truffles last night so we’re like zombies now. I don’t even know how I’m still awake.”
“How were the mushrooms?”
“It was scary at one point, but fun though. We were in our hotel room tripping out. We wanted to have the whole Amsterdam experience.” He pauses for a long time, as if he has dropped the thread of his thoughts. “We played a show there. The show was cool. I think some people bought some records, so that’s good enough for me.”
Eyedress is touring his album – the brilliant but terribly titled ‘Manila Ice’ – a celebration of the Manila music scene, made in collaboration with friends and peers from his home city. It was written after he returned from a stint in the UK in 2015, where he was signed to XL Recordings.
“[XL] had me collaborating with people who they found suitable. It made me miss my friends back home and everything we were doing back there. So when I got home I decided to make an album with my friends.” There is another long, vacant silence. “So yeah. I moved back and I wanted to make this album with friends because I missed all the things we were doing before I left – so when I got back that was my goal, to work with all the most passionate, serious artists in my town.”
He tells me that the title is a reference to a joke made by Josh from Jungle (the London-based soul band), but that the intention of the album is serious: to showcase Manila’s talent, to use only Manila-based artists.
“Well,” Eyedress clarifies, “except Prefuse 73 – he’s also signed to Lex [Eyedress’ new label]. He got me signed so that doesn’t count. He’s the only one who’s not Filipino. I just thought all my friends are really good at what they do. I know most of them through the Internet and what they’ve posted online. How can we put two and two together and come up with something bigger than all of them, I guess? Because everyone working together, it’s always more grand. Everyone’s going out of his or her way to make time, to make something worthwhile. I just wanted to show that so people would stop asking me what the music scene is like and I could just give them an album and show them – from my point of view at least.”