Blue, Vertical Horizon, Leigh Nash, Stephen Speaks on music nostalgia and steadfast Philippine fanbase

Manila experienced a major blast from the past as the city’s first-ever throwback music festival took place last Sunday, February 10 at Circuit Makati.

Fans got the chance to relive their childhood through installations and activities before singing along to the music of Blue, Vertical Horizon, Stephen Speaks, and Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer.

At the press conference held at I’M Hotel, Makati the day before the big event, the four international artists expressed their love for Filipino fans and talked to the media about their music, today’s industry, nostalgia and more in a friendly and intimate atmosphere. Check out the highlights below.

Stephen Speaks

Rockwell Ryan Ripperger, the band’s lead vocalist, has been in the country the longest out of all the international artists attending the festival. Even in his third visit, he makes sure he could experience all the wonderful islands the Philippines has to offer. In fact, he makes waves addressing some of the local issues, including the Marawi incident and the damaged reefs as part of his advocacy.

On Playback Music Festival, Ripperger is most excited about meeting Vertical Horizon, adding the Washington alternative band have influenced his own songwriting and was a big inspiration to him growing up.

©Rey Gonzaga/AsiaLive365

Ripperger revealed Stephen Speaks’s massive 1999 hit “Passenger Seat” gets the most song royalties from the Philippines, proving its undying love for the song. He personally believes this has to do with the loving culture of the Filipino people, which is what the song is about to him. This is widely exhibited in the Philippines: Ripperger himself has had the chance to witness a crowd of high school students singing “Passenger Seat” without missing a word.

Although a casual listener of 90’s music, Ripperger understands that his music can transcend generations. He believes its longevity is the result of fundamental rawness and instrumentality, an “organic” quality ascribed to the songs of the 80’s and 90’s but is missing in today’s mainstream music.

Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer

Like Ripperger, Nash is no stranger to the Philippines. She was, however, still a “baby” when she first performed here. Nash shows a great excitement for performing in Manila once again as a woman with a “better grasp of life”.

When asked about what she misses most about the past, Nash personally feels that music genres have become “blurry” and melded into the same generic, repetitive sound. Just like most of us who are big fans of music form yesteryears, Nash feels nostalgic every time she hears old songs on the radio.

But that’s by no means a sign of discouragement. Nash still writes new material and, if anything, she feels more confident now with all her memorable life experiences, good and bad. “I came for the music, I stayed for the music,” Nash adds. A firm believer of the impact music can have on people, she wants to spread a message of love and beauty through hers.

©Rey Gonzaga/AsiaLive365

Besides songwriting, Nash has creative writing up her sleeves. Asked to give some tips for aspiring songwriters and writers, she says the key to creating art is repetition and revision, with a dash of the artist’s fearlessness.

Vertical Horizon

For the fourth time since their debut in 1991, Vertical Horizon once again set foot in the Philippines. The band express how grateful and amazed they are for the positive energy they’ve received and the connection they’ve made with Filipino fans through the years.
Frontman Matt Scannell shares the band’s formula in writing songs that live on regardless of ever-changing industry trends: writing the best songs they could possibly write. The band have developed their sound by deviating from trendy hooks and riffs, and creating classics instead. They learned from the very start not to release anything they’re not proud of, because they might be the songs the crowd requests every single night.

Although they try to look for inspiration for songs in their surroundings for, it’s inside themselves that they often wind up writing about, and one feeling in particular – pain. And in many ways it’s therapeutic. Scannell finds it alleviating to translate his pain into lyrics and melodies.

When asked which musical era they want to go back to, the band members all have different answers. While his bandmates point out the high point of creativity of the 70s and revere the 60’s Motown, Scannell would rather focus on the future. He wants to “keep moving forward” rather than being stuck in a specific era of music.


The English boyband, represented by members Simon Webbe and Antony Costa, show great excitement about their return to Manila after six years. The boys thank the loyal Filipino fanbase who have been supporting them and to whom they’d like to dedicate “Sing for Me” from 2013’s Roulette.

On the difference between the group and other OG boybands, Webbe and Costa say their friendship is what sets them apart. The boys have been friends even before the start of their career, something boybands put together by big labels are short of.

Friendship as the foundation of the band really has worked its wonders: it comes across in their music and help Blue stand the test of time. They have a sixth album on the way and there is no sign of stopping soon. They feel as if nothing has changed the Blue of 2000 now that they’re all back together.

When asked which contemporary artists they’d like to collaborate with, Blue name Charlie Puth, Ed Sheeran, Adele, and Beyoncé.

Special thanks to All Access Productions and I’M Hotel.





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