How Ben&Ben wrote and recorded their new song ‘Lifetime’ while in lockdown

It can’t be easy to write, record, and polish a song while in quarantine – especially if there are 9 members in the band. But folk-pop band Ben&Ben managed to do so, and are set to release the song soon.

"Lifetime" was inspired by a comment left by a fan who goes by the username "Anne jou" on the band's music video for their song "Pagtingin."

In the comment, the fan shared how she was secretly in love with her best friend from high school and how he had feelings for her as well, but because they were both afraid that their relationship would change, they never revealed how they felt to each other – and he would end up marrying another woman. (READ: Ben&Ben was apparently so moved by a fan’s sad love story that they wrote a song about it)

After sharing a screenshot of the comment on their Twitter and saying it had inspired them to write a song, the band quickly got to work, even sharing snippets of their process on Twitter.

Mics in the closet, and other home studio oddities

The recording involved some very do-it-yourself type methods. The band members recorded vocals and instrumentals separately, with some of them using their closets as microphone booths. They even recorded the sound of rain – just in case.

In a virtual press conference on June 1, the band said that writng and recording from their homes challenged their usual process in more ways than one.

One of the more obvious challenges was learning to work with the equipment they had – and even just setting their equipment up at home in the first place.

Percussionist Toni Muñoz shared that she wondered how she would get her set-up to fit in her small room – "Nakaya naman (I managed)," she laughed.

At the same time, their other percussionist Andrew de Pano talked about all the random methods they had to resort to to make their home set-ups work – from singing in their closets, to running cables through their furniture.

At some point, he had to figure out how to get rid of a persistent buzzing sound that would turn up while he was recording. The solution, he eventually found, was to place his audio interface on the floor and step on it with his bare feet.

Together apart

Other than the DIY set-ups and odd hacks they've had to do, recording from quarantine was also complicated by the fact that this famously tight-knit band had to work separately.

"I think the hardest part was finding a way na magbabatuhan kami ng ideas (to throw ideas around), how we’d comment on each other’s arrangements, and once we found the right platform on which we could do that, everything became much easier, a lot more intuitive," shared percussionist Andrew de Pano.

Andrew said that their music relies heavily on their bond as a band, making it challenging to write a song while apart.

"We’re all very close-knit so when we’re together, there’s this particular energy that we bounce off each other. We didn’t have that this time, so that was a big challenge that we were able to overcome through communication," Andrew said.

Keyboardist Pat Lasaten said that in a way, the process of writing while in quarantine was faster because they all have more free time – but she still misses the "human to human interaction" among the band and producers.

"I think it will take some getting used to," she shared.

Trusting the process

Guitarist Poch Barretto shared the sentiments, saying it was challenging to record their individual parts separately because they couldn't hear all the instruments and vocals together.

"In each process, we really required a certain level of trust, a certain level of ‘okay let’s just do it,'" he said, especially thanking their producer JP Verona, who mixed the song.

"It was actually better than we expected it to come out," he said.

For Andrew, the experience made him realize that it's possible to record quality tracks from home, if you just put enough time and effort to do so. But he also said that their chemistry as a band was instrumental in getting their quarantine recording process to work.

"I don’t think that this would have been as easy as a 9-piece band if we didn’t have years of prior experience in all of the shows that we have played together. [Because that chemistry] was something that really took hours and hours to build upon," he said.

"Even though it was something that we created from our homes, we were still able to really inject our spirit as a band in the song through our years of working together," he said.

The song is Ben&Ben's third track to be mastered by Grammy-Award winning mastering engineer Leon Zervos, who has worked with The Beach Boys, Rihanna, Maroon 5, and Pink, to name a few.

It's set to be released at 12 am on June 4 and Anne jou, whose story inspired the track, will finally be able to hear it – along with the rest of Ben&Ben's fans.

"We hope she likes it once it’s out," vocalist Miguel Guico said.

"Lifetime" will be available on all digital platforms worldwide. – Rappler.com

Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.

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