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Cosmic Highway: Travel through the Philippines with Mikail's Munting Ligaya Mix

Mikail kicks up a musical storm of Filipino treats

  • Charles Budd
  • 13 July 2020

There is so much undisclosed narrative and story-telling that goes behind a DJ set, whether it be in an after-hours club, speakeasy bar, or a conceptually concocted creation that comes from deep within. Of course, and in most cases, the story-telling comes down to the journey and formation of a set, that is experienced through vivid moments of physical presence.

We invite a selection of Asia’s finest DJs to join us for a ride on the Cosmic Highway — a sonically thought-provoking journey of inner-discovery and nuances where we lift the veil to discover their audio-influenced odyssey.

Mixmag Asia has decided to set course on a new journey-esque series of sound where we visit the inner-voice of artists across Asia. Our first stop is Manila in the Philippines, where we sit down with highly diverse, zealously forward-thinking and influentially grand DJ, promoter and man about music, Mikail.

Born in Hong Kong, spent a few youthful years in Italy and has Swiss and Filipino roots, Mikail has set a tall precedent for quality with every venture he embarks on whether it be through his own artist career that stems from warehouse parties in London, as one of the owners of Manila’s electronic dance hub XX XX or curating and organising events and festivals under the UNKNWN brand, or other type of concerts under the parent company CC:Concepts of which he is co-founder. If there’s one thing for certain, he is beyond committed to his current hometown of the Philippine archipelago.

In this new meticulously curated series, you will find out where, why and how certain artists spend their time in music, what matters to them, and how they like to or how they have presented themselves to their listeners near and far. Mikail invites Mixmag Asia to unearth and add shine to local gems, from producers and musicians from all over the Philippines, with sounds ranging from experimental and ambient to deep house to raw and organic percussion.

As Mikail puts it, “I feel this mix shows the breadth of electronic music coming out of Manila and the Philippines recently. It represents introspective sounds from lockdown, to a heavier Manila sound, and ends on tropical, happy notes… Munting Ligaya translates to ‘little happiness’ or ‘pockets of happiness’ — a Tagalog phrase I feel really fits at the moment and given the world situation.”

Hit play below while you Indulge in the track by track analysis to enter the current and positive frequencies of the Philippines, courtesy of Mikail.

Track 1: Teya Logos 'after being emo w sofia, and on the way to robmag'

Mikail: “Teya is a very young producer based in Quezon City here in Manila, I discovered her through similarobjects. Her stuff is crazy out there from ambient to tracks that go from dark techno to gabber. similarobjects is the go to and highly commended source for all things experimental and electronic from the Philippines.”

Track 2: Tarsius feat. Caliph & Malek Lopez 'From The Mountains' (Number Line Records)

Mikail: Tarsius are the duo Diego Mapa, and Jay Gapasin on live drums, and — probably one of the most established live electronic acts here! This is one of their older tracks off their first album Primate from 2011. I signed them to my label More Rice, and they have just released a new album which I play later in the mix… also Four Tet is a big fan of theirs and plays their tracks!”

Track 3: Big Hat Gang 'Music For Galleries' (Number Line Records)

Mikail:Big Hat Gang is a talented house and ambient producer who has a great, slow chugging sound when playing live, usually with lots of hardware. I particularly like his ambient stuff. He has also just released a new EP.”


Track 4: Pamcy 'Yugyog'

Mikail:Pamcy is a great up and coming producer with a very bright, happy and colourful house sound. I feel it aptly and nicely encapsulates the Philippine tropical vibe!"

Track 5: Saint Guel 'Keep It Going'

Mikail: “Another up and coming Manila producer is Saint Guel — we’re talking about disco influenced house music here! He has a few more releases in the pipeline from what I hear.”

Track 6: Lustbass & The Hernandez Bros. 'At the End of Time' (Forthcoming on More Rice)

Mikail: “This is something very exciting – Miguel and Chiko Hernandez have been household names in Manila. They are a percussion based live duo who have just recently started making tracks together with Lustbass — a soul and funk infused producer. The Hernandez Bros. signature high energy is combined with Lustbass’ production skills, bringing a track that is hypnotic but tribal at the same time.”


Mikail: “New on the radar, came across their music online and it’s great stuff! I have no idea who QUICKTHOT. is, but I love it, and i want more!”

Track 8: similarobjects 'Sega Santaka' (Tropikal Diskoral)

Mkiail: "similarobjects gets a special shout out as he is more than just a good friend, and he is a way I discover lots of the new artists online! Without any bias, he is a very talented (and enigmatic!) producer! He was part of Red Bull Music Academy a few years ago. I can also say that I have been obsessed with track for over two years and without fail, I play it in almost every set. It’s off a compilation that a friend’s collective called Tropical Futures Institute released a while back. Perfect vibe - absolute winner!”

Track 9: Tarsius 'Gumamela'

Mikail: “A favourite off of Tarsius' new album, Culture Cow LP."

Track 10: Like Animals 'Everything and Nothing'

Mikail: “Another talented producer – Like Animals is a drummer for various bands in Manila and has recently started making his own electronic stuff… deep, trippy and powerful.”

Track 11: Tarsius 'Agos'

Mikail: “Couldn’t resist another Tarsius track, again off their Culture Cow LP.”

Trak 12: Teya Logos 'UWA'

Mikail: Teya Logos strikes again with her hard hitting, darker sound. This reminds me of other stuff coming out of Asia right now such as Gabber Modus Operandi… seems like things are getting crazier in terms of production and tastes!”


Mikail: “Garage vibes by the secretive QUICKTHOT - shows some of the versatility of the producers here, and their influences and taste. I feel a lot get stuck in the 4/4 format so it’s really promising having a variety of styles coming out of Manila.”

Track 14: slumsies 'DISJOINT'

Mikail:slumsies is another producer I discovered through similarobjects. Her style is very varied, and she is a one-person team doing everything herself — vocals, writing, production, mixing and mastering.”

Track 15: similarobjects 'Raw Dystopian Budots 6'

Mikail: “This is the one with a special story and probably the track where people go “WTF is this?!” It’s similarobjects’ take on what is a Filipino music phenomenon called budots. One could call it our own version of reggaeton, but mixed with euro-pop and trance, with a lot of bleeps and TV show samples. It’s become quite the craze, — check out what VICE also had to say about budots here.”

Track 16: similarobjects 'analogmigraine' (forthcoming on More Rice)

Mikail: “This one I featured as it showcases similarobjects’ talent once more – 150bpm craziness, with an ethereal vibe to it, it will be coming out on our label More Rice soon.”

Track 17: Red-i feat. Ras Taro 'Moving' (OTO Records, Japan)

Mikail: “Red-i is another old school Manila producer from the dub and reggae scene — he runs and DJs at the legendary Irie Sunday party which has been an institution for Manila. He is a great producer and much respected in his scene all around the world — I've always been a big fan. This is off his last LP and features Manila MC Ras Taro.”

Track 18: Red-i 'Imperial Majesty' (OTO Records, Japan)

Mikail: “Same album, another dope track with that dub trumpet.”

Track 19: CRWN & August Wahh 'Blue Dreams'

Mikail: “Big big fan of this collab from 2019 – CRWN is originally a beats producer but delves into house music, whilst August has an amazing, soulful voice and on this collab it fits perfectly – it’s what I would listen to chilling on an island trip.”

Track 20: Joe CRuz & The Cruzettes 'Araw Araw, Gabi Gabi' (Lahat Ng Awar LP, 1976)

Mikail: “This is a very special one, probably my best and rarest vinyl find here in Manila. Joe Cruz & The Cruzettes were the bar band of the Hyatt Hotel back in the 1970s, like lots of other artists at the time they were heavily influenced by the Tropicalia sound coming from Brazil (Sergio Mendes, etc…), which made sense since we are a Pacific island nation effectively.

Lots of the music from this time is now very sought after and rare, and gave way to what was called the Manila Sound which was essentially funk infused disco when it was more influenced by the USA. This track is called ‘Araw Araw, Gabu Gabi’ which translates to ‘Everyday, Every Night’ and is probably my favourite old school Filipino record.”

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