Calgary·Filipino Bureau

Beyond Bruno Mars: Filipino-Calgarians record hip-hop, rap and heavy trap music

Meet some of the members of the local music collective Zero Future Club who are looking to bust stereotypes, even if their families don't fully embrace their musical dreams.

Zero Future Club makes music their families don’t entirely embrace

'Even though you're a small Filipino kid you can make really heavy trap music if you want to,' says Ivo Santos, who goes by the stage name New Saint. (Ray Masiclat)

When I sat down for a virtual interview with Ivo Santos and Jasmine Monton about their local music collective, the first thing I wanted to know was why they call themselves Zero Future Club.

Turns out it's a bit of an inside joke.

"It's a tongue in cheek type saying. Because there are often people when you're an artist who will tell you, you know, there's no future for you in making art, it's not practical or, like, it's not necessary," says Monton, who goes by the stage name Audder.

Calgary's Jasmine Monton or Audder, recording a music video for Zero Future Club's warehouse shows. (Submitted by Jasmine Monton)

Both Monton and Santos are the children of Filipinos who immigrated to Calgary. 

"This pressure of being a model minority ... comes from the people who are closest to you," Monton says.

Ivo Santos, a.k.a. New Saint, says his parents and relatives have often alluded that there is "zero future" in making music.

"It's like, 'If you don't want to be a doctor, why don't you go be a lawyer? Or maybe you could do programming. You know, those people are making a lot of money.' And always, to them, the idea of success and future is always tied to those kinds of careers,... so it just kind of makes me want to prove them wrong." 

At times, Santos says, he has felt his family doesn't entirely embrace or understand the music he makes — which is everything from rap to hip hop and R&B.

"In entertainment, there's an expected route for people of Filipino or Asian descent to go down. Like any time I've wanted to tell someone that I was a singer, they'd be like, 'Oh, like Bruno Mars?'" says Santos.

There's nothing in Santos' repertoire that resembles a pop ballad.

"Even though you're a small Filipino kid you can make really heavy trap music if you want to," Santos  says.

That's where Zero Future Club comes in.

The collective is owned by four Calgary musicians of Asian and Black heritage who share their skills, networks, talent and equipment. Santos says they all "just kind of clicked."

Zero Future Club is a music collective owned by Asian and Black Calgarians. (Esther Cho)

"It just happened all so naturally and we just realized like, 'Hey, like, we actually have pretty similar upbringings despite the fact that you grew up in Ghana, I grew up in the Philippines and Hong Kong."

Monton says the collaboration has really helped develop her music and her sense of identity.

"I would love to not feel like I have to compartmentalize and wear those different masks all the time … in wearing all these different masks I'm missing out on, like, what's beautiful about finding those grey spaces. The areas where you learn something about your identity. That's actually more fluid than what you've been told." 

And with that, I'll let the music speak for itself.

What the Zero Future Club is all about

1 year ago
Duration 4:46
Meet some of the members of a Calgary music collective who are looking to bust stereotypes, even if their families don't fully embrace it.