Musician fuses electronic dance and traditional Filipino music

By Malvina Wong, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Nov. 6, 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. – It’s a sound that transcends time and tradition, the ancient and the modern.

Ron Quesada is a Filipino-American Bay Area artist who has created a new music form he calls “Kulintronica” – a fusion of metal gong kettles from the Southern Philippines with electronic dance music.

He has been passionate about music and exploring different instruments since childhood. But 10 years ago in college, he suddenly felt drawn to the kulintang.

“It was unlike any music that I had ever heard,” said Quesada. “It was totally different, I was totally blown away. I was really compelled to learn more about it because I thought I knew so much by spending so much time with Filipino folk musicians, but it turns out that it’s just one layer to this complex universe of Filipino arts.”

Despite growing up in San Francisco’s Filipino community, Ron says it was playing the kulintang that helped him connect deeper to his roots.

“I have mixed looks so people don’t always believe me when I try to associate with them and say I’m one of you. I’m Filipino,” said the Bay Area artist. “So I’ve had to find creative ways to express that identity, and one of those ways is to specialize in Filipino music.”

One of his main goals is to make younger Filipino-Americans be aware of the kulintang instrument, especially at this time – an age where Filipino traditional arts is at risk of fading away.

“By mixing this with electronic dance music, I’m kind of bringing the culture to them,” said Ron. “They’re asking for dance music, and I’m giving them Filipino culture. I think it’s a win-win situation.”

This Pinoy music pioneer hopes to inspire and challenge other Filipino artists to explore and push their creative boundaries.

“Right now, I’m the only one doing it, so I get to be that guy who introduces it to the world,” said Quesada. “For me to know that this is being received is to see someone else do it in their own way.”

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