The Sugboanon: Thntr. – Calling the World Our Own, One Song at a Time

The complexity of Cebu City stems from its citizens – people like hard laborers in the public markets, students from all kinds of backgrounds, and office workers chugging at their computers for hours and hours on end. Every single one of these people lives their own lives searching for something meaningful to make of their existence, something just itching to burst out and shout to the heavens above.

Thonter Adobo is what someone might call a quintessential creative: grinding countless hours at their day job to support that one passion they’ve always dreamed about. In this case, his passions are in the musical arts. Taking inspiration from artists like IV of Spades, he started creating under the stage name “THNTR.”

How THNTR. Came to Be

His first exposure to music was when he dabbled in expressions of himself that relate to his favorite artists. In junior high school, he knew that he already had love for music, albeit only treating it as a hobby. 2018 was the origin of his music persona, as he started his first music project with a ukulele. This ended up becoming his first single, ‘Time,’ which his friend offered to produce.

He initially put his songs on Bandcamp in 2019. Later that year, life hit hard, and like a lot of musicians in our city, he had to focus on his job as a video editor to make a living. Opportunities for local musicians are scarce. Compromise is something a lot of artists are familiar with, much so in a small town like Cebu.

However, one of the few good things the pandemic has brought upon is that it forced a lot of people to truly look at themselves and take the time to think about the things they had to overlook because of the bleakness of reality. The same happened to Thonter when he finally found the motivation to introspect, digging deep into his own consciousness to bring out what he wanted to say to the world through his music.

Music Beyond Sound

Thonter defies the idea of a genre in terms of his music as he correlates his sound to the experience behind every song. His writing process boils down to a matter of vibes – to push through with a song, he has to see the overarching feeling it emanates. The melodies, instruments, and lyrics come naturally to him over many iterations and as time goes on. Treating each song as if they’re part of a collective story, he crafts their identities using mediums beyond sound. 

He used this process when creating his latest EP, ‘Pictures I’ve Taken,’ using visual elements often packaged with his music, such as cover art, to supplement the message of the song. Polaroid photos are stylized and washed with a distinct hue, like ‘Ramona’ embodying purple, and ‘Sleep’ being a toned-down blue.

As Thonter mentions, developing each song’s identity, as well as its visual motifs and cues, is his favorite part about creating. Musicians all have distinctive processes in which they manifest their craft. For him, he considers the storytelling of music as the most exciting part of the undertaking.

The Cebuano Music Scene

As small as the Cebuano Music Scene is, the community is pretty tight-knit because of common goals and interests. Thonter started to look inwards during the rise of IV of Spades in 2018, taking inspiration from other Cebuano artists after seeing them perform in gigs.

“I think of it as proudly stealing … I really steal from everyone I see and put my own spin to it,”

Thonter jokingly said, emphasizing how even if the word has a negative connotation, he sees it as simply as that. There is no beginning and end in how art imitates art.

His first EP, ‘Pictures I’ve Taken’, was made during lockdown in late 2020. Despite initial struggles, he ultimately found a way to distribute his music. In early 2021, he also released a few singles, namely ‘Ramona (Call This World Our Own)’, and ‘Sleep’.

With creativity and inspiration coming in waves being married to responsibilities in life that necessitate turning back on some things, he went on a hiatus. After playing a gig in Manila by an invitation from his friends, he wanted to continue making music, but was in no capacity to. Despite that, it is still clear how intricately woven the Cebuano music scene is with how local musicians can tap into each other for help and opportunities.

To Aspiring Musicians, From Thonter

Thonter ends the interview with a final message to aspiring musicians: “I sometimes imagine myself answering the question: ‘What would you say to those who want to create music?’, and the answer is just to create.” Thonter expresses how interesting current times are for aspiring artists, in an era where people don’t have to have labels to have platforms to release their music.

He also reminds everyone to be proud of the work that they’ve achieved by saying this about his most recently released titles, ‘Ramona (Call This World Our Own),’ and ‘Sleep’: “They’re not the best ever, but I can say they’re my work, and I’m really, really proud of them.

Stream THNTR.’s music on Spotify:

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