With a recent surge of new artists and music coming out of the South Bay, one of the latest bands to pop out of the woodworks is a Filipino-fueled math rock troupe called Ripplings. And they are making waves in the instrumental scene.
While a lesser-known genre, this style of music displays specific technical and melodic mastery of guitar, bass and drums with strange and complex grooves and rhythms.
Math rock can be considered a subgenre fused of many other styles, including metal, hardcore, jazz and more. Anna Macan, originally from Milpitas, met Sean Bautista, also from Milpitas, while attending Milpitas High School about 12 years ago. She played the guitar and he played the bass, along with other instruments.
They later linked up with a performing arts organization called South Bay Kids and have performed together ever since—also picking up their own side projects in other independent groups and bands.
“Math rock is just such a fun genre to play, even though it’s kind of difficult to play on the instrument,” Macan, 28, said.
Macan started making beats on a Roland SP-404 electronic sampler during the peak of the pandemic when she was feeling particularly isolated and “emo,” she said. And this led to her recording the very first Ripplings song, Ad Astra, a song birthed by the sound of birds on the end of Macan’s boss’s zoom calls during Macan’s work-from-home morning meetings. And from there, Ripplings was born.
Macan’s inspiration for this expressive music, in part, was a chance encounter with Yvette Young, a San Jose native and front-woman for the popular math rock band Covet. Macan learned from Young at an acoustic guitar camp years ago, where they performed together.
“I hold a lot of respect for her as a musician,” Macan said. “She is making her name as one of the ultimate guitarists who can shred.”
And Bautista has always been the bassist for Macan, whenever the two are available together for working gigs. Bautista said he also met Young randomly at a Polyphia and Chon show sometime in 2018, signaling Bautista’s growing interest in math rock.
Bautista said he learned to play many intricate bass lines listening to “really cool, technically sometimes hard, music.” Polyphia, Chon, a band called Standards, one called Floral and Covet all fueled his current repertoire, along with many others.
Both Macan and Bautista love the complexity of math rock, a blended art which pushes the boundaries of conventional music to the point of pure bewilderment and symphony.
“We both like jazz, and heavy metal and hardcore too, so hopefully that shows in our music as well,” Bautista said.
The hardest struggle for them, humorously, is keeping a regular drummer on the gig. This includes a steady list of about four or more different drummers at any time around the Bay Area who have either written drum parts for their songs, performed for live shows, or filled in when the live show guys couldn’t make it.
While math rock is considered a subterranean genre in the Bay Area, it’s steadily picked up a growing fan base over the last several years. And Ripplings is picking up the momentum with their new music upcoming this month.
“I think the Bay Area is super welcoming of it,” Macan said, “I definitely don’t see a lot of bands with our sound that’s local. But I think with our band, I want to change that.”
Ripplings will be performing at their EP Release Show December 15 in Fremont, which will also feature San Jose-artists Tryn and Mayx.
Dec. 15, 7pm