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Hot Seat: we ask Manila Killa some curveball questions

Chris Gavino’s rise to fame has been meteoric. Just four years ago, the Washington DC-based DJ, producer and label owner was pursuing his degree. But he was already blowing up, DJing first at frat parties and birthdays, then all around the country on the weekend, while maintaining his grades during the week. Today, Gavino stands out among the sea of young faces on the future bass scene as Manila Killa...

The moniker is a shoutout to Gavino’s Filipino roots. He grew up moving between the Philippines, Indonesia, and the United States, attending international schools while developing an early love of music, drawing and breakdancing. Soon he was listening to Daft Punk and Justice, and by the time he moved back to Virginia for high school, he was ready to make music with a close group of friends. His remixes for artists such as Lana Del Rey and Flume quickly racked up millions of plays on SoundCloud, and originals like ‘Wake Up Call’ and ‘Run Away’ surpassed 100,000 plays in mere weeks. He’s also a regular at major festivals, including Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival, Hard Summer and Coachella, and runs a record label, Moving Castle,which he helped launch while in college.

What was it like blowing up while you were still in college?
“A lot of my friends were super supportive, and even bought tickets to shows without asking me for guestlist. That still happens today, and I’m extremely grateful for their support. Of course, it’s always a plus when I’m able to accommodate them backstage and introduce them to some of their own favourite artists. I’m honestly still shocked that this is how my career has turned out!”

You once brought your mom on stage. Did she freak out?
“My mom usually avoids the spotlight, so I’m sure the moment I got on the mic to ask the crowd to make some noise for her, she felt overwhelmed. But she was a champ. She waved to the crowd, danced a bit and had fun. It was an important moment because that was the closest I’ve come to helping my parents understand why I spend so much time on this craft; to directly see how it affects other people. And hey, when the stage calls, you gotta answer.”

What’s the most extreme food you’ve ever had on tour?
“The most extreme food I’ve had on tour is from my country, the Philippines. It’s called balut. It’s a common street food that consists of a broiled duck embryo that’s eaten straight from the shell, often dipped in salt. Getting into the details might be a little too intense, so I’ll let your imagination run wild. People have gagged at this dish on Fear Factor, but I find it quite delicious.”

Where do you ultimately want to see yourself in the music industry?
“I’m still trying to figure that out. For now, I’m focusing all of my energy into establishing myself as an artist and putting on the best possible show I can when I tour. But there are so many other aspects of the industry that have piqued my interest. Whether it be live show production, merchandise or music videos, I’m always intrigued by the design aspect that’s incorporated in music. I also enjoy helping run our record label, discovering new artists and getting good music heard. Wherever I land, I’m confident I’ll be doing something I love.”