People might have known him since his Sugarfree days, playing guitar for the band and singing as lead vocals. But these days, Ebe Dancel has managed to make himself as one class, solo act. Having been in the music industry for nearly two decades now, Ebe has experienced a great deal of what happens when you sometimes feel like you’ve gone from hero to zero—the highs, the lows, having it all, and admittedly, to feeling empty-handed.
Ebe shares his struggles, his triumphs, and what it takes to get out of a rut when the things in between keep pulling you in.
On struggling and making it
“I felt like I lost everything.” Ebe, upon leaving his former band Sugarfree, recalls how he would seldom get booked for gigs then. “Kung meron man, nobody wanted to come to my shows, nobody was buying my albums,” he shares. But instead of quitting music for good, he pressed on and just recently, he started to reap the rewards. “Last week, I released an album under Star Music and it went straight to number one. So, maganda na yung dinaanan ko yung mga bagay na ‘yon para hindi ko makakalimutan kung saan ako galing, para lagi ko matatandaan kung saan ko gustong pumunta. It’s all connected eh.”
On his sense of fulfillment
“To be honest, making people feel better about themselves. I get letters or sometimes people come to my shows and then they tell me, ‘you know I found a friend in your songs and I was going through a really rough time and then I heard one of your songs… at that moment I felt like I wasn’t alone.” He adds, “the very fact that my songs have become some sort of a friend to people in times of need, I think that’s the best part about what I do. Of course, I get to travel the whole country, the whole world even, for free… what we do is a paid vacation, so that’s fun.”
Without reservations, Ebe Dancel shares both his struggles and successes while on break from his 3D: DAMA concert rehearsal.
On refuelling your passion
Ebe has openly admitted quitting music too many times. But somehow, the roads he took to get out had only led him back. He shares six things you can do once you find yourself back on track.
Reflect on your shortcomings. “Well, unang una, I think you should try to zone in on your mistakes. That’s the only way you learn eh, you learn by way of making mistakes.”
Move around. “Always take short breaks. You know, go to the beach. Go out of the country.”
Lighten up. “At the end of the day, it’s just music, really. There’s so much more to life. Try not to take what you do too seriously, there are other things out there.”
Attract what you are. “Talk to like-minded people… people who’ve been through everything. Like my mentors are basically the Eraserheads, mga barkada ko sila. You learn something new from them every day. Eraserheads, Rivermaya, Parokya ni Edgar… I looked up to them and they’ve become such good friends of mine, and they tell me about their stories, their shows, and the albums that they make.”
Know your saving grace. “I think I’m closer to my God now… Everything that I do talaga is to glorify Jesus.”
Know thy self and thy craft. “Gaya noon sabe ng kanta ko, hanapin yung dulo, gitna, at simula kung bakit mo ginagawa ‘to. Understand yourself, understand your craft. That makes you a better person, that makes you a better musician…”
Ebe Dancel finds himself back in music.
Ebe Dancel might have taken a while to drop his doubts on whether he’s on the right path or not. But as he shares in reassurance, “Eto talaga siya, eh (music). Each time I come back, I come back more excited, tapos may bagong perspective... I’ve always believed that we all have our own roles in life and that as Gary Valenciano said, we are specifically designed to be ourselves. Meron talaga tayong puwesto sa mundo na ‘to. It’s just a matter of finding it, and you will definitely find it.”
With that, Ebe Dancel is certainly back on track, musically and otherwise.
ALSO READ: The Six Fix: David Bowie’s Well-Loved Lyrics
Photographs by Eugene Bautista