Monday, February 20, 2012


Born to Filipino parents in Seattle in 1972, graphic designer and musician Albert Ochosa is the first artist to create a collection for the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas’ “Artist Signature Series” of t-shirts and merchandise.

“I think by now I have far given up my aspirations to become some gothic rockstar, so graphic design is my concert venue. Every stroke, texture and color treatment makes me explore my own lyrics, beats and melody in a composition and amazingly, it is all music to me.”
                                                     --Albert Ochosa

I first met Albert Ochosa in 1999. Atom Henares and Mike Ochosa (Albert’s cousin) introduced us.  Atom got in touch with me saying there was this guy visiting from Seattle whom he was sure I’d get along with.

How about like a house on fire?

A group meet up was arranged at a now defunct bar at the Fort called Mondo. We met up again later on our own and hit Malate and the Laureano Compound along Pasong Tamo—where the vibrance of the late 90’s was to be found. We visited NU 107 where Francis “Brew” Reyes interviewed Albert about his gothic band, “The Endless Still” and they exchanged notes on the use of the ebow.  Some contraption I had previously not heard of.

Albert became my host when I visited Seattle for the first time that same year.  He took me to goth clubs, a great coffee joint called the Coffee Messiah, the graves of Bruce and Brandon Lee and the Black Sun sculpture which inspired Soundgarden to come up with the song “Black Hole Sun” (on top of the traditional sights like the Space Needle and the Pike Place Market) all in a span of three days.
He also took me to see a midnight screening of a Danish vampire film called “Angel of the Night” at a film festival. To this day we will not forget the character named Rico Mortiz.

Thanks to the magic of Facebook, we got reconnected with each other two years ago and I’m quite thrilled to find out he still making and performing music with the bands Avila of Divine Eros (Madrid) and Anguisette (Seattle), creating exciting and edgy graphic design for his clients and making his own jewelry and accessories.

The biggest news is the recent launch of the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas’ “Artist Signature Series”—with Albert as the first designer for a line of merchandise and collector’s accessories. The designs clearly show his love of rock music, the color black, the slightly off kilter and dark. 

The designs feature a mix of media: photography, line art and raw textures (photos of dirt, trees, wood and brick are layered into the design).

Putting together the shoots was an exercise in ingenuity, getting by with no budget but with a lot of help from friends:  The Hard Rock Hotel’s retail wiz and “cool hunter” who brokered the idea for the Artist Series booked the location and got the Hard Rock Store to provide wardrobe pieces. Guitars were lent, a make up artist was sent, Albert did set design and styling.  Their model was an employee of the Hard Rock with no previous experience who became their  “Nico / Twiggy / Siouxsie Sioux for the day.”

After all these years, it’s great to see Albert shows no signs of outgrowing the subculture that celebrates being different while having a propensity for the dark and strangely fascinating. 

He recalls, “It was the punk / goth crowd that welcomed me into their circles more than the “popular” crowd, as I think we were all identified as being the outcasts or the oddballs…Even during teen years when I had girlfriends and experienced those first breakups, gothic and punk music was my therapy and solace—I didn’t need drugs to make me feel better as long as I had music. What really introduced me to their whole image and lifestyle was Depeche Mode.

Even now I think of the whole subculture as something filled with beauty, not some dark and scary place.”

With all his gravitating to the dark, mysterious and nocturnal, Albert has an affinity for the sun:  his graphic design outfit is called Rising Sun Media and the campaign for his Hard Rock Hotel apparel is called Under a Different Sun.  Perhaps this alludes to the constantly shining sun in the land of his parent’s birth or the creative power we’re born with.  In the audio clip for Under a Different Sun, a sound byte says: “the spirit to shine is inside every one of us.”

Albert spends his time shuttling between Madrid, Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco. I’m hoping he gets to come back soon for more Philippine sun.

“This collector’s spin is from a scan of one of my father’s records, dedicated to this man who changed my life with rock and roll my dad is a city boy from Malate who loved music with a passion and always loved to go out and enjoy Manila nightlife back in the 50’s. He has an extensive record he still listens to today.” 

Part of the proceeds from the merchandise goes to “Let the Kids Rock,” the Hard Rock’s charity involved in restoring musical instruments for public schools. Albert designed the logo for the project, which appeared on the show “Real World Las Vegas” on MTV.

Maryanne Bilham is from New Zealand and has lived and worked in Hong Kong for 10 years (over the 90’s).  She’s been to the Philippines and enjoyed the beaches of Cebu and Puerto Gallera.  She has photographed Robert Smith, the Go-gos, Sheryl Crow, Blondie, Courtney Love, Santana, Slash, Heart, Cyndi Lauper, Jeff Beck and Skinny Puppy.

To find out more about the campaign visit: