Originating from the Latin word ‘solus’ which means alone and ‘ipse’ which means self, solipsism is a philosophy with the belief that the Self is all that exists and is true. Closely related to narcissism, this point of view can be toxic too — if not lived with grounding humility. Artists and musicians alike are too often touched by some measure of solipsism witnessed in their works of their own worlds. One might consider that the task of an artist is to be an instrument of the universe — a thing to communicate that we are all part of the same thing one way or another.
Embedded with their philosophies, the power of creators to touch the souls of people with their works is truly transcendental. Relevantly, it can be understood through the heartfelt reactions by listeners of recently transitioned artists such as SOPHIE, DMX, and Chick Corea. Through their supporters, the legacy and love that these artists have left behind continues to shine. Moreover, the power of music is not only observed through the lives of the ones creating it but clearly in their works as well. As felt in Daft Punk’s recent split, the created concepts of artists are certainly revolutionizing projects that shape one’s philosophy and sometimes, a culture as a whole.
In every corner of the world, music is felt and created by its local creators who shape the culture and love of the place. With the supposed artist’s universal task, the musicians who truly shine through are the ones who pursue this mission — these are the creators who deeply impact a scene. In the Philippine capital of Metro Manila, if you’d ask anyone who’s genuinely in the electronic scene a name of an artist who has truly made a mark, I’d bet you a vaccine that they’d answer ‘similarobjects.’ Grounded with humility, similarobjects has been Jorge Juan B Wieneke V’s musical moniker and public solipsist announcement for the past decade. Although the musical project was his sonic expression of the Self, similarobjects never boasted about his genius, drifting far away from the waters of narcissism. I’m not sure if I speak for everyone in the Manila electronic music scene, however, I am certain that through similarobjects, Jorge has inspired many creators to keep on with their universal tasks with pure love, genuineness and authenticity. After a decade of light and shadow, Jorge (as he now prefers to be called) is peacefully ending his musical journey as similarobjects.
Who is similarobjects?
“For me, I feel like I sort of created that label or title or name as a container for all of my work and my expressions that I felt were sort of sacred in nature," begins Jorge. "I felt like it was a way for me to get away from mundane things and the idea of identity as Jorge Wieneke — like me, my human self. I always look to similarobjects as a way to channel the unknown and the divine.
"I mean, it sounds all woo-woo but that is how I feel about it. It’s my escape and my way of understanding reality and existence. It’s just always been my meditation. I get into a trance and I write but the music sort of writes itself. For some reason, I just know when I write something and if it falls into a similarobjects category.
"Just to make it simple, it was just a container for everything that I did which felt like it was coming from a divine, unknown or cosmic place.”
Jorge remarks that he has this habit of having musical containers, evidently seen in his other projects like %ercentius, nouvul and Den Sy Ty. Through music, he emphasizes that the similarobjects container really allowed him to feel like he was tapping into the divine Self.
“Only you yourself can know if you’re really connected to that. A lot of people can just say it’s bullshit or a placebo effect. But for me, in that time being at the prime of it when I felt most connected to myself, I felt like I was really channelling something divine. You sit in front of your computer or your workstation and things just seem to be flowing. And I feel like no one can really tell you what’s real and what’s not because everyone has their own definition of what’s real and what’s not.”
Similar to the digital club he founded, Jorge says that his decade-long moniker borrows symbolisms from the Russian Matryoshka doll as well.
“The idea of similarobjects existing within another similar object and the concept of being cosmic — being connected to everyone, the collective unconscious,” Jorge says. “It was also inspired by the idea that everyone affects each other. We’re all sort of linked. (Basta parang) we’re all interconnected with everything.”
In the middle of our interview, we chatted about Alex Grey’s visionary art because it reminded me of our shared philosophies on music as a divine space. Due to his view that the Self is interconnected with other similar selves, it’s not hard to imagine why Jorge’s solipsism touched other lives. He showed us that everyone is valid and empowered creators to tap into the divine space through their work. With all this ardour for music and expression, I wondered what exactly began this decade-long journey. Jorge recalled his earliest memory of similarobjects inception. He said that during a psychedelic experience in 2011, he had this sort of epiphany or spiritual awakening.
“People might slam me for this saying ‘ooh spiritual awakening… he’s so woo woo.’ But that’s how it felt — like I woke up and saw these images of matryoshka dolls and even the concept of similarobjects within another.”
He likens the images he saw to the Western art concept of Mise En Abyme or the Droste effect — an inception-like philosophy concerning infinite regression like Tame Impala’s 'Innerspeaker'. Inspired by this concept, Jorge says that psychedelic vision is essentially what gave birth to similarobjects. With the psychedelic downloads from his weekend experience, he started to write music about these abstract ideas and feelings. A week after his first official release called 'black aircon sober', Pitchfork started blogging about it and this somewhat marked the beginning of his journey as similarobjects.
Not only a creator but also a teacher, Jorge has been involved with music even before the inception of similarobjects. He recalls being in a few bands spanning different genres of soul, reggae, and punk. While these experiences concerned others, these have led him to create his own path. The authenticity of Jorge resulted in the genius and originality of similarobjects. Aptly so, his defined experiences led him to be a respected musician in the local and international scene. With such a genuine legacy left behind, I started to wonder who influenced similarobjects.
“I sort of oscillate between the idea of ‘nothing original exists’ and the idea of not thinking too much about who influences you. Musically, I think you can always pinpoint to the musicians I often go back to – Flying Lotus, Aphex Twin, Telefon Tel Aviv.”
But influences as a person? (Parang) it’s mishmash eh.”
Jorge is hugely inspired by Bill Evans’ musical philosophy and even Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. Training under the way of the intercepting fist, he was influenced by the way Lee combined different martial arts and applied this to his music. Aptly similarobjects, he notes other icons from the top of his head who have inspired him one way or another — David Lynch, Carlos Castaneda, Michelle Gondry, Bjork, Thom Yorke, Trent Reznor, Terence McKenna, etc.
Despite his many influences, he emphasizes that he tries not to overthink his creative process and also mentions that he was also deeply inspired by his friends, especially his old ‘main core barkada’ which includes Philippine contemporaries such as LUSTBASS and ((( O ))).
“Aside from the people we idolize who are distant from us, they (friends) were one of my main inspirations for a lot of things. I feel like it’s such an underrated thing to be inspired by your friends. Sometimes, even non-musical friends are the ones who inspire me the most. I feel so lucky to exist in the same timeline and place as these people.”
Furthermore, meditation and spirituality are definitely great influences in the work of similarobjects. And this inspiration is felt as observed in his reputation as a ‘music guru’. Learning under Jorge in Cosmic Sonic Arts (CoSA), Javier Pimentel or lui. attributes similarobjects as a sort of musical Yoda. Since I was his student as well, I have no restraint when I say that he has taught me much music wisdom. Akin to Yoda, he has taught many people to unlock their inner Self through music and authentic expression. I find it great that I share the same memorable musical lesson with other students which goes along the lines of “as long there’s one person in the room vibing to the music, then you’ve done your job.”
When I told Jorge about his ‘guru’ status, he said that he honestly felt weirded out that people would call him great. Due to impostor syndrome, a complex he only started to know about in recent years, Jorge felt like he was never gonna be enough and he is still not used to being perceived as this local music ‘legend’.
“I’m not used to it still – being perceived as something. When people tell me I’m doing great, I’ve just learnt to say thank you. But internally, I still don’t know what to do with that. I guess I’m okay with people calling me a teacher because it actually became a formal job. But at the end of the day, since I’m someone who doesn’t really believe in labels, I feel like people are just attaching me to the things that we (CoSA, BuwanBuwan Collective, MCR) do.
"I’m just a guy who has a passion for sharing what I do and making people understand what they can do. What I’ve achieved is sort of just me trying to push the idea that people can do the same. I don’t like to complicate it more than that.”
The conversation took a lighter turn when he started to remark that he is now learning how to give himself more credit with me telling him the impostor syndrome story of Neil Gaiman. Despite this crippling inferiority complex, Jorge says that he still carries some sort of confidence because he truly loves what he is doing. Without a bit of superiority, he wants his work to be an example for others.
“You can do this if you put enough focus and attention in your mind to doing it. I enjoy being a teacher. I enjoy seeing people learn. It comes from a place of not having a mentor.” Overcoming this lack, Jorge guided his students with the truth that everyone is worthy. “I want people to know that. It comes from that actually.”
“The truth is I planned nothing. It’s more of like similarobjects and other projects were so long that I forgot to just be a human being. For a while, I’ve become a human doing. It’s like you’re doing so much that you forget to just be yourself.
"That’s what I’m trying to rediscover. If I wanna pick up the piano or guitar tomorrow, I wanna do that without the idea that you’re going to release something or that it’s gonna become a project. I feel like we’ve lost that side of ourselves because in society now, it’s like we’re being pitted up against each other in this sort of social hierarchy where everyone’s just comparing themselves.
"Everything’s so release-based that artists forget to just express themselves. I feel like I want to zone into that (expression/being) again.”
Missing the essential joy and lightness of music, Jorge is at peace with ending the similarobjects journey after 10 years of work and past selves. Thinking about what life was before this social media madness, he reminisced about simpler times where he could just create music just for the sake of it — without branding and planning.
“That’s just my opinion. You’re creating something and you’re already catering the idea to something. It can’t fully grow into itself when it’s already being made for someone else. I feel like that’s also one of the reasons why I think I’m ending this (similarobjects) container.
In a way, this container that was freeing me before became my cage because so many attachments, associations, and meanings from other people being attached to this similarobjects. It became a brand and a buzzword. It wasn’t sacred anymore.”Like many creators before, the pressure to do their work affects them in ways we sometimes can’t perceive. Speaking from my experience as a musician, I can grasp what Jorge feels with the ending of similarobjects and we came to an understanding that there are really only a few artists who can truly thrive with this sort of expectation.
“Music hasn’t been happy for me for a while. If people have caught my recent sets and releases, they’re all really angry, sad and existential. It’s honest but when was the last time I had fun? I can’t remember approaching my workstation having fun. Collabs are fun because it’s the energy of someone else but when it’s me, it’s recently been something heavy.”
Essentially, Jorge feels like the ending of similarobjects will allow him to leave the musical rat race and go on another journey to playfully chase his happiness instead. He tells me that he’s got pieces of music that he’s just written for himself and doesn’t know what to do with it yet.
“I’m just working on myself lately – learning new things like coding and photography, watching films, writing and even drawing (even though I suck at it). I’m just really like trying to be a child again. I lost the sort of childlike innocence.
Everything’s so serious. Everything’s so attached to achievement. I feel like as artists we also have to give ourselves time to be bored and some room to grow. There’s something inside me that’s growing and I never gave it room to evolve.
But I don't even know what that is yet. I’m just chasing what that feeling is making me do. So whatever that is, I don’t know – if I’m even going to name it or if I’m even gonna use a name. I just wanna do it – and not have to think about sensationalizing it or hype it up.”
“If anything, I’m not sad. It’s a happy ending and I feel more inspired. All of that (lessons and music) is still in me. I didn’t lose anything. If anything, it’s all compounded me – what I’ve earned and achieved. I feel like I could even achieve more now that I’m more honest with myself.
It’s not about the name. I’m also trying to move away from that idea that everyone thinks that similarobjects has so many achievements but I’m also trying to go away from that.
I’m so interested to explore the music that just actually connects with me.”
Going back to the philosophy of solipsism, Jorge says that he’d like it if art was based on the art itself rather than the artist. He essentially wants for listeners to find their own meaning through themselves and how a creator’s work can connect to you rather than the other identities associated with it.
“Solipsism is a word that caught my attention. Sometimes, it makes me feel like similarobjects only existed truly to me and the true meaning of it somewhat died.”
Jorge Juan B Wieneke V is similarobjects and vice-versa. However, at the same time, they are only essentially similar. Undoubtedly, his decade-long musical journey is an inspiration for modern creators worldwide, especially in the Philippines and the electronic underground. Founding different organizations and spaces such as Manila Community Radio and Club Matryoshka, through similarobjects, Jorge has created genuine communities for global music and culture. Before similarobjects, to many of us, Jorge is simply a friend and a teacher. With that being said, thank you Jorge for the love and the cosmic creations you have given us through similarobjects.
Contrary to the Black Godfather who lives by numbers, similarobjects leaves us with these last words:
“Don’t forget to live your life offline. At the end of the day, none of these things we’re giving value to really matter. Why are we all chasing numbers? We all end up trapping ourselves in these definitions that might not even be our own definitions.
Take care of your family. Meditate. Exercise. Be kind to others. Sometimes, I feel like we’re complicating our lives. I don’t mean to be preachy. I just want all of us to find peace again.”
5 KEY RELEASES BY SIMILAROBJECTS
2011 Finding Astral Lovers
“I feel like this is one of my favorites because I didn’t feel like I was trying to be anyone. I would be experimenting with astral traveling and lucid dreaming. I’d sleep, wake up, then make the music. I didn’t have a plan or a type-beats concept for this. If I feel like I’ve hit gold, I just release it. This album made me feel like I was making music from within, like I was channeling something.”
For a while, Jorge’s definition of a beatmaker was to make a hundred beats a day because everyone in his era was doing the same thing. But when he looks back, he recalls that his SP404 days was a personal saturated musical purgatory because he was caring too much about what other people think.
“My music is autobiographical. They’re like memory cards. I’m not dismissing sp404 beat makers because there is a true art to chopping but my SP404 days were a grind.
Sometimes, all you need is a beat and a sample chop and you’re already musically nourished. (Minsan beat at sample chop, busog ka na eh)”
Listen to the full album here
2016 Rara Avis
“One of my favourites because it was one of the first projects where I looked at releases beyond just music. I made a video game for it. It was also a formal release where I was thinking about all of them cohesively – the 13 songs were meant as a love letter for someone I liked. For me, it was new because it felt more polished and conceptual from the start.”
Listen to Rara Avis in full here
2016 PLACED INTO ABYSS
“This was also nice even though it was just a compilation of beats I made that year. They’re sort of like beat exercises that charted my development.”
Listen to PLACED INTO ABYSS in full here
“It’s actually an aborted project. I was in the process of making my album but I didn’t have the mental and emotional power to finish. That’s why I released it as sisyphean which is like a mixtape of songs I never got to finish properly, songs that I lost the project files for. But this is how I really felt. This is the music I really hear in my brain without trying to sound like anything.
Forever pushing that boulder, never really reaching the top of that mountain. This is actually one of my favorite releases ever.”
Jorge said that some of his listeners felt like this 2020 release didn’t sound like him. But I agreed with him when he said that this is actually a milestone for him to communicate a sound as authentic as this. He notes that sisyphean was music from within rather than his other experimental releases wherein he’s drawing from something external. The climb similarobjects took to push the boulder of his favorite music is poetic in the sense that Finding Astral Lovers symbolizes the container’s birth and sisyphean its death. “Like a before and after photo,” Jorge jokingly comments.
Listen to sisyphean in full here