Singer-songwriter, busker, and producer, Martin Riggs, tackles getting in an incomplete yet complete state in latest single, ‘P Z Z L S’ released on Friday, March 4.
Published under his home label, O/C Records, P Z Z L S captures the puzzling state of feeling up to the mark with being “completely incomplete” as you journey through filling the missing gaps in life.
In an interview with Martin Riggs, he shares the inspiration behind this track: how a TikTok video he posted in December stirred the production of this track, why he initially aimed to have a different artist sing the song, the impact of the song to the growing busking community in the Philippines as he acts as the founder of Busking Community PH, his message to his listeners, and more.
TNH: What is P Z Z L S all about?
Martin Riggs: P Z Z L S is all about finding the missing pieces of life. The state of being okay with being completely incomplete. Alam mo ‘yung “parang may kulang” — ‘yon. ‘Yung state na ‘yun. The state in pursuit of the pieces that will complete you, and being positive and hopeful about being in that state.
TNH: You’ve shared that the track is inspired by your friend’s life story; What stirred you to tell such story to a broader audience, and how important is it for you to convey the message to your listeners?
Martin Riggs: During the Christmas holidays I posted something on TikTok saying na exchange gift tayo, tell me a story and I’ll write you a song. Then a friend messaged me na “Kuys, yung demo nung PZZLS baka naman” — so I recorded the demo in Batangas. Shared it to her. Sent it to Sir Kean [Cipriano] with the intention of finding an artist to sing the song.
TNH: Aside from being a remarkable singer-songwriter, you’re undeniably an outstanding producer. What can you share about the sonic features of P Z Z L S?
Martin Riggs: Uy, thanks, but I have to give credit also to my co-producer who pressed the right buttons to make this release. I’m the body of this track but he gave it a soul.
If I were to breakdown the sonic features of P Z Z L S, it’s all about layers.
Layers of electric guitars para may sinasandalan na maayos lahat nang kalabit ng strings, and layers of voices para magkaroon ng calming na effect. Even the arrangement is like a puzzle itself.
I asked Miss Hazel Pascua to mix and master my song, the genius behind the mixing and mastering of Paraluman, Tahanan and other hits of O/C [Records] and poof, “P Z Z L S” solved. Fun fact: this is the first time she worked on my track, when we work all the time for O/C [Records] tracks.
Konting backstory sa initial demo: Initially, I wanted to have bass and drums and heavy strings. Nung pinadinig ko kay Sir Kean [Cipriano] ‘yung demo, ang intention ko is to look for an artist who fits the song. He said I should take the bass and drums and other parts out, and leave the guitars and the vocals. Iniwan ko pa din yung strings though.
TNH: You’ve also shared that you first wanted to have a different artist sing this song, but you were convinced by your manager-co-producer, Kean Cipriano, to take on the role. What made you want to have a different singer for the track, and what prompted you to take the encouragement?
Martin Riggs: Shookt ako actually, kasi insecure ako sa singing ko. This is an English song. Hirap na nga ako kumanta in general, tapos ito, English pa!
But Sir Kean [Cipriano] surprisingly said “Keep the initial vocals. Okay na ‘yun“. To me, that feels like an achievement already and that really made me want to release this song. Doon pa lang, masayang-masaya na ’ko. Parang na-feel ko yung credibility ng pagiging “singer-songwriter” when he called me and said “Ikaw dapat ang kumanta niyan, Marts”.
TNH: Other creatives in this track include Kean Cipriano, Van Cipriano, and Hazel Pascua; What can you share about the journey in collaborating with them for P Z Z L S?
Martin Riggs: Sir Kean [Cipriano] and Sir Van [Cipriano] are both my bosses. Miss Hazel [Pascua] is someone I talk to almost every day because of audio production of our other artists in O/C [Records]. Sobrang busy ng mga tao na ‘yan pero they gave their thought and concern for this song. They are the puzzle pieces that made this work of art complete. That’s something that I will always be thankful for.
TNH: As the founder of Busking Community PH, how do you see the impact of this song on the growing busking community in the Philippines?
Martin Riggs: ‘Yung mga kasama ko sa The Busking Community PH alam kong miss na miss niyo na rin mag-busk. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang magiging impact sakanila nung kanta, pero para sa’kin, yung part na “What’s familiar yesterday is strange today, and what’s strange today is familiar” speaks about busking. Recently, I had the chance to feel the streets again and that’s when it hit me. The streets felt familiar, yet at that time it felt strange, and I hope someday it would feel familiar to me again. I really miss busking, at alam kong mag-iiyakan kami kapag nagka sama-sama ulit kami sa kalsada.
P Z Z L S adds up to Martin Riggs' growing music catalog of conveying stories about the realities of life, the joys of love, and the pains of heartbreak. His previously released tracks include his debut single, Langit at Dagat, Damaso, Umaga, and Ako At Ikaw, Diba? — his track from the Golden Scenery of Tomorrow Soundtrack Album.
Martin Riggs' message to his listeners:
Maam, Ser. Hirap ng buhay noh? Normal na minsan okay, minsan hindi. Minsan masaya, minsan malungkot. Lahat ng down sa buhay ngayon, hindi ko man masabi na “I understand how you feel” pero sana masamahan kayo ng kanta ko. One day, we will feel the sunshine on our skin and contemplate by the window while it’s raining. We will embrace the sound of the leaves when the wind is blowing. Darating din ang araw na sasaya tayo! :)