Ben&Ben delivers a love song that is unapologetically bare in its messaging on “Dear”

After bagging five wins including Album of the Year at the recently concluded Awit Awards 2022, Ben&Ben returns with a new single that captures the essence of romantic love without forcing or expecting anything in return.

Setting itself apart from the conventional themes often associated with the subject, the nine-piece band encapsulates love that is earned through perfect timing and experience. 

On “Dear,” Ben&Ben interprets a love song that is unapologetically bare in its messaging.

“We think it’s equally important to drop any notion of wanting to deliberately steer clear of potential sounds and themes we may have already done when being unapologetic and honest in songwriting and arranging,” the folk-pop collective says in a statement. “Like in love, the more you fight the feeling, the more one might feel internally dissonant.”

Penned by Paolo Benjamin and Miguel Benjamin, “Dear” serves as a reflection of the band’s collective and individual experiences with love so far and how one becomes stronger after going through bittersweet lessons in life. The song was recorded at A.R. Rahman’s Firdaus Studio during their time at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Dear is a song that tries to capture the feeling of a deeper kind of romantic love; one that begins when a person surrenders the pursuit of a lover itself to a higher power,” reveals Ben&Ben.

From a production standpoint, “Dear” evokes the timeless feeling of nostalgia and earnestness, while capturing the sound of a generation drawn into ‘70s singer-songwriter calm and pop-rock vigor. 

“Not only were we able to use their world class studio space and equipment, but we also had the pleasure of working with the stellar team at Firdaus Studio, including Peter El Khoury, Alexander Theux, Theodore Danso, and Ali Hassan,” says the multi-award-winning band. “Unlike most of our tracks that we record individually in the studio, we decided to record this one together as a full band, and we feel the final track really reflects that more ‘old-school’ feeling of looseness and authenticity.”

Ben&Ben hopes that music fans will connect instantly with the song and get a very valid answer to the question, “How do I know when I’m sure about somebody?” As the Paninindigan Kita act puts it, “We also just really hope this song connects people together in a way that they remember the people in their lives whom they can really call ‘Dear’ as well.”

Ben&Ben’s “Dear” is out now on all digital music platforms worldwide via Sony Music Entertainment.

About Sony Music Entertainment

At Sony Music Entertainment, we honor the creative journey. Our creators shape movements, culture, communities, even history. And we’ve played a pioneering role in music history, from establishing the first-ever music label to inventing the flat disc record. We’ve nurtured some of music’s most iconic artists and produced some of the most influential recordings of all time. Today, we work in more than 100 countries, supporting a diverse and distinctive roster of talented creators at every level and on every stage. Situated at the intersection of music, entertainment, and technology, we bring imagination and expertise to emerging products and platforms, embrace new business models, and employ breakthrough tools—all to support the creative community’s experimentation, risk-taking, and growth. And we form deep, trusted, cause-based partnerships to uplift and empower communities around the world. Sony Music Entertainment is part of the global Sony family.

TuneCore expands in PH to offer new payment options for local music creators

Leading independent DIY digital music distributor TuneCore, a division of global digital music company Paris-based Believe, expands its payment methods in the Philippines and Southeast Asia to better serve their growing artist base in the region. The first of its kind global agreement affirms the company’s commitment to providing the best user experience for independent artists in the Philippines and the SEA region where alternative payments options are more popular than credit cards.

TuneCore, whose international presence has more than doubled over the last 18 months, has partnered with global financial technology platform Adyen. The company has launched localized payment methods in the Philippines through Gcash. Others include Indonesia through Dana (GoPay coming soon), Vietnam through MoMo, and Global (Non-US countries) through China Union Pay.

Andreea Gleeson, CEO of TuneCore, emphasizes: “As TuneCore continues to expand, we not only offer best in class services on a worldwide level, the company also brings that same mindset to our local markets. For TuneCore artists, we not only want to support their artistry but we want to make it easy for them to distribute their music. Last year we launched the New Artist plan, which enables creators to release their music to social platforms for no upfront fee. Now with the launch of our expanded payment services, creators can access full distribution services seamlessly.”

Cyrus Chen, Head of TuneCore Southeast Asia, adds: “In Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, card penetration remains low while e-wallets usage is quickly becoming ubiquitous among the population in recent years. By prioritizing our payments infrastructure to include local payment options that our artists prefer, demonstrates our commitment to the region’s growth. This is part of TuneCore’s hyper-localization efforts to ensure the most positive user experience for our Southeast Asian artists.”

In the coming months, TuneCore will push the program out to other countries and regions. Earlier this year, TuneCore launched its revolutionary new pricing program which allows artists at any stage of their careers to distribute their music. The program allows music creators to release tracks and albums on an unlimited basis via plans ranging from free/no upfront cost (new artist), $14.99 (rising artist), $29.99 (breakout artist) to $49.99 (professional).

Faryal Khan-Thompson, Vice President, International, TuneCore, shares: “Southeast Asia is an important market for TuneCore as there is an abundance of talent and growth in the region. Our partnership with Adyen simplifies and streamlines payments, giving access to music creators who previously would not have been able to distribute.”

About TuneCore  

TuneCore is the global platform for independent musicians to build audiences and careers – with technology and services across distribution, publishing administration and a range of promotional services. TuneCore Music Distribution services help artists, labels and managers sell their music through Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, TikTok, Tencent and more than 150 download and streaming stores worldwide, while retaining 100 percent of their sales revenue and rights for a low annual flat fee. TuneCore Music Publishing Administration assists songwriters by administering their compositions through licensing, registration, worldwide royalty collections, and placement opportunities in film, TV, commercials, video games and more. The TuneCore Artist Services portal offers a suite of tools and services that enable artists to promote their craft, connect with fans, and get their music heard. TuneCore, part of Believe, is headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, with offices in Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, and Austin, and operates globally through local teams based in the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Japan and Singapore across 5 continents. www.tunecore.com

About Believe

Believe is one of the world’s leading digital music companies. Believe’s mission is to develop artists and labels in the digital world by providing them the solutions they need to grow their audience at each stage of their career and development. Believe’s passionate team of digital music experts around the world leverages the Group’s global technology platform to advise artists and labels, distribute and promote their music. Its 1,565 employees in more than 50 countries aim to support independent artists and labels with a unique digital expertise, respect, fairness and transparency. Believe offers its various solutions through a portfolio of brands including TuneCore, Nuclear Blast, Naïve. Groove Attack and AllPoints. Believe is listed on compartment A of the regulated market of Euronext Paris (Ticker: BLV. ISIN: FR0014003FE9).

Image by tirachardz on Freepik

Drag Playhouse PH honors Beyonce’s Renaissance with culture-defining themed show

Drag Playhouse Philippines recently celebrated the music of Beyoncé through a thematic show that further highlights the megastar’s enormous contribution to queer pop culture.

Aptly titled HOUSE 628 LIVE: THE RENAISSANCE BALL, the event provided an outlet for the queens of Drag Playhouse Philippines to express themselves freely without judgment, while sashaying to Beyoncé’s club-thumping 2022 album, Renaissance, and classic hits.

Drag Playhouse Beyonce Renaissance Ball

Aside from high-profile Drag Performances of OV Cunt, Marina Summers, Prince, and Eva Le Queen—three of them currently getting valuable airtime at Drag Race Philippines, the drag show also hosted friendly battles in several categories namely Drag Face, where contestants showcase exceptional makeup skills by serving mug on the runway; Drag Runway, where contestants exhibit head-to-toe fierceness during their runway walk; and Lip Sync Challenge,  where they pull their most creative tricks in synchronizing their lips to a prerecorded track.

A special drag performance featuring Viñas DeLuxe added more star power to an already eventful night as she performed a medley of Beyoncé’s hits, with House OfMizrahi Philippines, a local chapter of the Voguing community, joining in some of the performances. A purely Beyoncé-themed DJ set tucked in between the program segments also hyped the crowd, prompting them to sing and dance along to the Homecoming Queen’s iconic bops from the late ‘90s to the present.

Drag Playhouse Beyonce Renaissance Ball

Marina Summers, a fan-favorite and frontrunner at this year’s Drag Race Philippines, expressed how Beyoncé shaped her youth. “Her work has been an inspiration for a lot of queer artists, and personally, I’ve always loved performing to her songs. And ever since the Renaissancealbum came out, just like Queen B herself, my creative path has been challenged to be more innovative and unique.”

Another Drag Race Philippines favorite and drag icon, Eva Le Queen, spoke adoration for Beyonce, pointing out how her music is a gift to the world. “Beyonce has always been an icon and inspiration to the community. Her strong and alpha energy resonated so much to a lot of us Drag Queens who are essentially the face and frontliners of the equality movement for the community. Her music, her soul, her POWER has allowed me to live my life in my own terms and take Eva Le Queen to greater heights. Being a female, POC and be THE QUEEN B is a permission for all of us to be the best that we can be.”

Drag Playhouse Beyonce Renaissance Ball

Like Summers and Eva Le Queen, fellow Drag Race Philippines contestant and queen extraordinaire PRINCE, considers Beyoncé as an important figure in influencing her drag persona. She also considers Renaissance as an envelope-pushing record that deserves its place in the pantheon of pop music greats. “It’s totally different from her past records. Most songs were sampled from classic disco hits but somehow Beyoncé made it sound fresh and that’s what makes it great.”

OV CUNT, another royalty in the contemporary drag scene, also showered Beyonce praises, particularly her new album Renaissance, for empowering listeners to be unapologetically, themselves. “It has awoken parts of the colorful history of our community, whether it’s intentional or not. It gave the world possibly new names of icons that may or might not be forgotten by the past. The mention of houses from ball culture, the use of Moi Renee’s Miss Honey in the Pure/Honey—it gives you every opportunity to reference every icon that contributed to our community today.”

Drag Playhouse Beyonce Renaissance Ball

Watch the video for the roundup of HOUSE 628 LIVE: THE RENAISSANCE BALL, Category is: A Night of a Thousand Beyoncé.

Listen to This Is Beyoncé playlist here.

Details and images provided in a recent press release.

Calvin Harris drops new single “Stay With Me,” featuring Justin Timberlake, Halsey, and Pharrell

GRAMMY Award-winning, multi-platinum selling artist and heavyweight producer Calvin Harris continues to soundtrack summer with the release of his new single “Stay With Me” featuring musical giants Justin Timberlake, Halsey and Pharrell out today via Columbia Records/Sony Music. The psychedelic official video directed by Emil Nava also premieres today and features all four artists.  Listen to the song here.

The new single marks the first time Harris has collaborated with Timberlake and Halsey, and the second time with Pharrell, who was previously featured on ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1’ and has notably collaborated with Timberlake on countless hits over the years.

“Stay With Me,” a dancefloor ready tune perfect for any party is prime to become song of the summer.

“Stay With Me” follows the release of “Potion” with Dua Lipa & Young Thug and “New Money” featuring 21 Savage from Harris’ forthcoming and highly anticipated new album ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2’ out on August 5. ‘Vol. 2’ will feature a number of today’s most dynamic artists such as: Stefflon Don, Chlöe, Charlie Puth, Pusha T, Shenseea, Tinashe, Normani, Lil Durk, Offset, 6lack, Coi Leray, Busta Rhymes, Donae’O, Latto, Swae Lee, Jorja Smith, and Snoop Dogg. The album is available for pre-order/save here.

Details provided in a recent press release.

Nokia E3511 wins big at iF Design Awards and Red Dot Design Awards 2022

Nokia bagged awards for Outstanding Product Design from separate global design competitions for its latest offering, the Nokia E3511. This makes the ANC-equipped true wireless earphones a solid example of value for money attributed to its superior build and performance.

Nokia E3511
Nokia E3511

iF Design Awards published the Nokia E3511 as part of their winning products this April via their communication channels, while the Red Dot Award for Product Design was given March 2022.

Founded in 1953 as Die Gute Industrieform e.V., iF Design has since become a global symbol of excellent design – especially with hosting the annual iF DESIGN AWARD, one of the most prestigious design awards worldwide.

The Red Dot Design Award, on the other hand, is a German international design prize awarded by Red Dot GmbH & Co. KG. There are prize categories for product design, brands and communication design, and design concept.

Launched March 2022 in the Philippines through HOLO Space, the Nokia E3511 undercuts competition with its impressive price-performance ratio as the device is competitively priced at Php 4,199 SRP.

Nokia E3511
Nokia E3511

The Nokia E3511 is designed to provide an excellent audio experience that encompasses:

  • Deep immersive sound. With crisp highs, a rich mid-range and balanced bass, plus active noise cancellation coupled with a large 10mm dynamic driver, the Nokia E3511 puts the listener right smack in the center of their favorite concert or movie.
  • Clearer voice calls. Enhanced voice pick-up improves voice clarity while responding to the user’s immediate environment, making phone conversations seem like face-to-face exchanges.
  • Built to last. Made with halogen-free materials to reduce environmental impact and equipped with an aluminium case to protect the earphones, you can expect the Nokia E3511 to be around for a long time.

The Nokia E3511 is available nationwide, in Black, Blue, and White variants at Nokia Personal Audio online stores:

HOLO Space is an authorized Philippine sales and marketing agency by Signeo Design-Richgo Singapore Pte Ltd.

Richgo Technology (ShenZhen) Co., Ltd. Is a licensee of NOKIA for earphones and mobile accessories across China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, Thailand and Australia. Signeo Design-RichGo Singapore Pte. Ltd. (SDR), is the fruition of Richgo Technology (Shenzen) Co., Ltd. And Signeo_Design International Ltd. (HK).

Details and images provided in a recent press release.

Nokia Personal Audio updates E-series wireless earphones range

Nokia Personal Audio updates its Essential Series (E-series) with new products and new retail pricing that allows every Juan to choose what matches their need and budget. Nokia fans can now take home a new pair of True Wireless earphones for as low as Php999.

The Fan-Favorite, Nokia E3100 more affordable at Php999

Nokia Personal Audio E-Series

Nokia E3100, the brand’s fast-selling wireless earphones gets a massive price update! From Php1,499, the entry-level offer of Nokia is now priced at Php999. This enables individuals who prefer wired-earphones and first time Bluetooth earphones users to switch and try True Wireless technology without breaking the bank. With its fun colorways and affordable price tag, the E3100 became an instant hit in the market.

See actual battery level on-the-go with E3102’s LED Display

Nokia Personal Audio E-Series

The new Nokia E3102 (Php2,199) are Bluetooth 5.1 in-ear true wireless earphones that delivers immersive sound, with up to 20hrs of battery life. It is designed with a comfortable in-ear structure that provides excellent noise isolation for full music immersion. E3102’s charging case comes with a Digital LED display which allows users to check battery consumption anytime.

ANC technology now accessible at Php4,199

Nokia Personal Audio E-Series

Nokia E3511 (Php4,199) offers pure audio bliss through Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) with enhanced voice pick-up. The newest addition in the E-Series have a battery case that comes with a lightweight halogen-free alloy construction and carries power of up to 25 hours. It has a Smart EQ that delivers an adaptive level of noise cancellation when answering calls, allowing users to focus on what matters.

The Nokia E-Series is now available in all Nokia Personal Audio online stores, nationwide!

Nokia Personal Audio E-Series

To know more about Nokia Personal Audio products, visit:

Details and images provided in a recent press release.

RichGo expands product portfolio with Monster Gaming

Gearing towards its second year, RichGo Philippines proceeds with its expansion in the local market with new products from global brands that have strong consumer demand.

Thanks to the successful launch of its lifestyle audio brand Nokia Personal Audio in 2021, RichGo Philippines continues its progressive streak with new offerings in the gaming category through the legacy brand, Monster.

Monster Gaming

Monster, globally known for its quality audio and cable products, assigns Signeo Design-RichGo Singapore Pte Ltd to distribute competitively-priced Monster branded gaming products in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

“We are happy to announce that Signeo Design – RichGo Singapore Pte Ltd awarded RichGo Philippines to market Monster Gaming products in the Philippines! The brand has been doing well in our neighbouring countries and now that it’s here, we’re now able to offer new viable and exciting alternatives for our Filipino gaming enthusiasts.” shares RichGo Philippines’ Marketing Head, Igue Bonifacio. “The Monster brand is back with new gaming gear, and we are thrilled that our Monster Gaming audio headsets are equipped with Monster’s signature Pure Monster Sound® — an innovation loved by many, and soon the Pinoy e-Sports community and casual gamers would love too.”, he added.

RichGo Monster Gaming
RichGo Monster Gaming
RichGo Monster Gaming
RichGo Monster Gaming

Monster Gaming currently offers the Airmars Series (starting P2,099) and G-Knight Series (starting P2,799) via its official Flagship Store at Lazada Philippines. Each gaming headphone is guaranteed with a 365-day local warranty, #PureMonsterGamers wouldn’t have to worry about their purchase from Monster Gaming.

Nokia Personal Audio

Alongside the online launch of Monster Gaming, RichGo Philippines widens Nokia Personal Audio’s reach through its Facebook Shop that delivers directly to customers, anywhere in the country. Nokia Fans can enjoy shopping for lower priced True Wireless Audio devices, and conveniently pay even without a credit or debit card as the Facebook Shop already accept payments via GCash!

Nokia Personal Audio
Nokia Personal Audio
Nokia Personal Audio
Nokia Personal Audio

RichGo Philippines is hard at work expanding its portfolio by adding new categories like portable wireless speakers, and mobile accessories in the coming months.

“We see a great potential in the accessories space as the market is looking for more options with quality build and great aesthetics. Aligned with the continuous interest of people on products with Nordic-inspired designs, Nokia fans have been highly requesting products with the same aesthetic appeal paired with great functionality.” Said Marnelli del Rosario, RichGo Philippines Product Manager for Nokia Personal Audio.

RichGo Philippines will continue to offer an exciting 2022 to its customers with new products, and new brands! Keep on visiting the Social Media and e-Commerce channels of its house brands for the latest news.

To know more about the latest products and offers of RichGo’s house brands, visit:

Nokia Personal Audio:

Monster Gaming:

Details and product images provided by RichGo in a recent press release.

Photo Credit: Header photo by DCStudio on Freepik

Extraordinary sound selections from Nokia Personal Audio, coming this 11.11!

Nokia Personal Audio by RichGo celebrates its first 11.11 campaign in the Philippines with BIG surprises prepared for all Nokia fans and audio enthusiasts! #MyNokia

Surprise 1: Up to 50% OFF on Nokia Favorites

Nokia RichGo 11.11

Fans get to choose from a wide variety of True Wireless Audio devices without breaking the bank. Customers can get discounts of up to 50% OFF on Nokia #FanFavorites, which will be available in all Nokia Personal Audio online stores from November 11 to 17, 2021.

  • Below Php1,500: Nokia E3100 (23% OFF) at Php 1,099 only! (From: Php 1,440), Nokia E3101 (25% OFF) Php 1,499 only! (From: Php 1,999)
  • 30% OFF and Above: Nokia E1200 (32% OFF) Php 1,699 only! (From: Php 2,499), Nokia E3200 (32% OFF) Php 1,699 only! (From: Php 2,449), Nokia E3500 (34% OFF) Php2,299 only! (From: Php 3,449)
  • 50% OFF: Nokia P3802A (50% OFF) Php 3,249 only! (From: Php 6,449)

Shop now!

Nokia Personal Audio
Nokia E3100
Nokia Personal Audio
Nokia E3101
Nokia Personal Audio
Nokia E1200
Nokia Personal Audio
Nokia E3200
Nokia Personal Audio
Nokia E3500
Nokia Personal Audio
Nokia E3802a

Surprise 2: Limited Edition – Nokia P3600

Nokia RichGo 11.11

True to its promise to bring affordable and quality wireless audio devices, RichGo Philippines will be releasing an addition to its PRO device line, the Nokia P3600 Pro True Wireless Earphones. A LIMITED- EDITION release, this new device aims to bring back the superb aesthetics of legacy Nokia mobile devices with sleek, shiny and curvy chassis for only Php 4,499 (11.11 price).

Targeted to empowered young individuals, the Nokia P3600 sports a sleek metallic charging case (reminiscent to the 2005-released luxury Nokia 8800 phone) that makes it a sure head turner for its striking looks. Aside from its mesmerizing aesthetics, the P3600 boasts a bang-for-the-buck audio configuration. The P3600 earphones is equipped with a Knowles Balanced Armature driver combined with an 8mm dynamic driver to deliver Hi-Fi quality music. One driver handles the mid and high frequencies and another takes care of the bass so users can enjoy a full spectrum of well-balanced sound.

Nokia RichGo 11.11

The P3600 also enable users to immerse themselves in the scene with its “Gaming Mode” that reduces delay and delivers sound in sync with the on-screen action, so gamers will never miss a critical sound again.

The Nokia P3600 will be released in LIMITED QUANTITY, and each purchase comes in an impressive Tin Can packaging which makes it a perfect gift idea for those who love style and function at the same time. Truly a collector’s delight!

Nokia RichGo 11.11
Nokia RichGo 11.11

Product Availability

The Nokia P3600, together with the rest of the Nokia Personal Audio products on sale will be available from November 11 to 17, 2021 in all online shops of Nokia Personal Audio by RichGo on Lazada, Shopee, and its recently launched Facebook Shop that delivers nationwide.

Details and images provided by RichGo in a recent press release.

October Music Review: Zack Tabudlo, Ben&Ben and other newsmakers in the local music scene

Pinoy music makers continue to shine this month through their new releases and collaborations.

Zack Tabudlo delivers romantic earnestness on new song “Ba’t Ganto Ang Pag-ibig”

It’s interesting to think how infatuation can bloom into something divinely romantic, yet difficult to articulate. But in Zack Tabudlo’s universe, expressing one’s affection is better delivered in stripped-down, guitar-pop music—as if he knows that a way to someone’s heart is a sweet, melodic chorus and a soaring instrumentation. 

Released ahead of his highly anticipated debut album, Episode, Zack Tabudlo’s new single “Ba’t Ganto Ang Pag-ibig” proves that he’s a troubadour of unrequited love songs. It captures the conflicting emotions that people of all ages could relate to. But most importantly, it’s a song that bursts with earnest sentimentality.

According to Zack himself, “Ba’t Ganto Ang Pag-ibig” is about someone you like, but is admired by a lot of people. “You don’t know if you stand a chance to everyone else, but you genuinely just want the person to be happy,” the young hitmakers shares in a statement. “You will always be the one call away for that person no matter what.”

With acoustic guitars and subtle, meditative arrangements shaping the tune into a laid-back and bittersweet affair, Zack knows how to work his charm with a deceptively simple tune. He questions his love for the other person, yet at the end of it all, he’s just trying to muster the courage to confess and open up his feelings no matter the consequences.

“I want the audience to feel that they’re not alone with what they feel for someone they admire,” Zack explains. “It’s hard to confess feelings, and with this song, they can lean towards it and maybe help with their confidence or help with what they feel.”

Like his other material, “Ba’t Ganto Ang Pag-ibig” is written, composed, produced, mixed, and mastered by Zack Tabudlo. Zack points out, “it has a very laid-back feel to it lyrics wise or production wise. It’s something that a lot of people would just vibe to.”

Zack Tabudlo’s “Ba’t Ganto Ang Pag-ibig” is out now on all streaming platforms worldwide via Island Records Philippines and MCA Music Inc.

Ben&Ben team up with Taiwanese Mandopop star WeiBird on dreamlike track “Cheap Love”

2021 has been a massive year for Filipino folk-pop collective Ben&Ben in terms of commercial and critical success. Their sophomore album, Pebble House, Vol. 1: Kuwaderno has earned glowing praises from reputable music critics and publications in the Philippines and Asia, with Rick Olivares of ABS-CBN News calling it a “brilliant masterpiece” and Paul John Caña of Esquire Philippines pointing out its vital role in establishing the band as the “pre-eminent artist of their generation.” In less than two months, Ben&Ben’s recently released album has surpassed more than 30 million streams on Spotify alone—a groundbreaking feat that attests to the group’s universal appeal and enduring impact for nearly an entire decade.

After achieving records in both streaming and digital sales and sending their songs to the top of the music charts, Ben&Ben are determined to put their work on the global music map with the release of “Cheap Love,” a new collaborative single with acclaimed and best-selling Taiwanese singer-songwriter WeiBird.

Epitomizing the moment when dawn shows its first light, “Cheap Love” is the sonic equivalent of wandering between a dreamlike state and an awakened mind throughout the night. It’s about the journey of finding a long, lasting love after having experienced so much pain in the past. According to William Wei, known professionally as WeiBird, the title of the song is a play on words, and nothing more than just faint bliss and ecstasy. “It’s a temporary band-aid for a big gushing wound, but it never fills the hole inside. Moreover, it increases the feeling of emptiness. What I’m trying to say is, you can’t bargain your way into love. Love is truly hard to find.”

Ben&Ben interprets the material in the same manner as WeiBird does, aware of the reality that comes with seeking genuine love in the direst of situations. “With the chorus repeating over and over how difficult it is to find a ‘rhyme better than you and I,’ it shows how drawn and enamored we are by the idea of love but oftentimes find ourselves in a pit when trying to really make it something more.”

With its stripped-down instrumentation embracing listeners with a sense of comforting warmth, “Cheap Love” expresses the woes and triumphs of a generation caught up in romantic longing and desire. The listening experience is made more compelling by the vocal harmonies of Paolo Benjamin and Miguel Benjamin, and the earnest delivery of WeiBird, making the audience feel more hopeful than ever despite the uncertainty of the present conditions. 

“We’re grateful that by just being our authentic selves musically, we were able to add to the song both in production, vocals, and instrumentation something that WeiBird seemed to be happy with,” the nine-piece group shares in a statement. “We took an active role in building on the magic that the song already had, and we’re happy with how it turned out.”

The song was written and produced by WeiBird himself, with co-production and mixing duties by frequent collaborators Aven Tsai and Sean Sinclair. The Mandopop and folk-pop star explains that Ben&Ben also pitched in ideas for the arrangement and music side of things, resulting into a more polished, sonically impressive output that showcases the best of both worlds. 

WeiBird adds, “I wrote, played and produced the whole song on the album version. However, for this collab I haven’t had to do much because Ben&Ben was amazing. I remember listening to a demo of them playing along to my original track, and I could already imagine how it would come to be later. And the final results were not far from my imagination. It was awesome.”

“Cheap Love” is the first single off WeiBird’s first official English album. It follows the success of his fifth studio album, Sounds Of My Life, which peaked at No.1 on Taiwanese album charts in 2020, and received four nominations at the 32nd Golden Melody Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Mandarin Album. The track also serves as the second international collaboration of Ben&Ben after “Leaves,” featuring K-pop star Young K. 

“Cheap Love” is out now on all digital music platforms via Sony Music Taiwan.

BLASTER joins Island Records Philippines, releases Japanese version of new song “DISKO FOREVER”

Promising newcomer BLASTER has recently joined the esteemed roster of Island Records Philippines, a domestic label division under UMG Philippines, which is dedicated to helping the best musical talent from the Philippines to achieve local success, whilst reaching new audiences worldwide.

The lead guitarist and occasional vocalist of award-winning band, IV of Spades will be part of an internationally renowned label that includes some of the most exciting and future-forward artists in the country such as Zack Tabudlo, Juan Karlos, Over October, Fern., and dia mate.

A&R Manager and Label Head of Island Records Philippines Bel Certeza recently expressed interest in working with BLASTER on upcoming releases that will showcase the multi-hyphenate’s core strength as both an artist and an innovator. “Island Records Philippines is looking forward to help and guide BLASTER to where he wants to take his music and vision as an artist. Releasing a body of work is in the pipeline but it’s not yet final as we’d also like to learn with him and his audience as we go along.”

Certeza, who used to be the former Road Manager of IV of Spades, pitched the idea to BLASTER with the intention to understand where he is now as an artist and where he wants to go moving forward. After hearing what Blaster has in mind, she immediately presented how Island Records Philippines can help bring his vision to reality. “After a series of long Zoom calls with MCA Music Managing Director Enzo Valdez, we were able to come up with a deal that caters to BLASTER’s integrity as an artist but also something that would make sense to the label,” Bel shares. “And now here we are.”

On the heels of the official signing is the release of “DISKO FOREVER (Japanese version),” a retro-modern bop that blends Manila Sound with bedroom electronica and avant-pop influences. Sung completely in Japanese, the new iteration serves as a warm-up track to the Tagalog version, which the young Filipino artist will be releasing soon. 

With its groovy rhythms, art-rock guitars, and eclectic arrangements, the genre-averse jam takes you back to the dance floor in a time that doesn’t allow communal gathering. The delightfully bittersweet track also doubles as a tribute to the golden era of Pinoy pop music, and is reimagined for a new generation of listeners to enjoy.

BLASTER’s “DISKO FOREVER” is out now on all streaming platforms worldwide via Island Records Philippines and MCA Music Inc.

Nobody’s Home hits the road in the music video of Ely Buendia-produced “Cigarette Daydreams”

Filipino alternative rock trio Nobody’s Home has released the official music video of their new single “Cigarette Daydreams”—a cover of Cage The Elephant’s chart-topping hit in 2014.

Directed by Ysa Aranda of Swimming Pictures, the clip features the promising trio on a random road trip, performing in front of a warehouse and running away from reality “to find peace of mind,” as the lyrics suggest.

As for the concept behind the music video, Aranda shares that it’s derived from her own personal experience, particularly the feeling of comfort that driving brings. “I had to go for a drive and dream scenarios that would resonate to the song itself. Aside from the lyrics of the song, driving has helped me cope specially in these trying times, hence the driving scenes present in the MV.”

Aranda’s take on “Cigarette Daydreams” is inspired by the visual narrative of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s End Of Summer, a short film that serves as a document of a calm scenery in “one of the most crucial and endangered areas of our planet.”

Paying homage and making it their own

The song was produced by Nobody’s Home and Ely Buendia, and its overall treatment maintains the melodic charm of the original, while incorporating ‘90s-sounding guitar-rock affair, candied pop hooks, and pulsating synths to the mix.

“Generally, we wanted to pay respects and keep the original vibe of the song,” Frontman and principal songwriter Eon Buendia explains. “We stuck to that nostalgic acoustic feeling for the verses while making it simpler in terms of instrumentals. But when it came to the choruses, that’s where we changed the vibe from the original’s lighter feeling to a darker and synth-y tone that is more akin to the sound of the band.”

Nobody’s Home strikes a balance between paying homage to the song and making it their own—a task that they supremely aced with conviction and confidence. “The main idea we had was that the verses would be simple and we wouldn’t add much to it in order to keep the spirit of the original, and then the choruses would be where we came in and do our thing,” Eon shares in a statement. “And then we put elements that we usually use when producing our personal tracks such as vocal layering, synthesizers, and lead guitar lines.”

Production notes

The track’s producer, Ely Buendia, also commends the alt-rock outfit’s dedication in upping the ante of their version, while retaining the song’s feel-good catharsis in the process. “I just trusted the boys’ musical instincts, knowing that their own personal preferences would make sure that this will not be a note for note translation.” 

In terms of production, Ely points out, “we at least wanted the production to be gritty yet polished, if at all possible, to honor the vibe of the original.”
Nobody’s Home’s version of Cage The Elephant’s “Cigarette Daydreams” is out now on all digital music platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines.

of Mercury navigates new phase in music journey with two-track release, CHANGIN’ vol. 1

of Mercury, formerly known as Nathan & Mercury, marks a new chapter in their music journey with the release of their two-track volume, CHANGIN’ Vol. 1—out today via Sony Music Philippines.

The dual release, which features the songs “I’M FINE” and “HEAVEN ON EARTH,” finds the band pushing their sound to an unexpected direction and displaying remarkable consistency in terms of musicality and songwriting. “Think of this release as a re-introduction to us,” of Mercury explains. “This release is a statement from us that we’re growing, we’re changing: a foretaste of what the album is going to be.”

Gleaming with funkier, hip-hop-leaning sounds and edgy production techniques, both tracks assert something that has been proven from the early stages of their career: they’re technically impressive as musicians, but they never let the stylistic explorations get in the way of their soulful, confessional storytelling. 

Focus track “I’M FINE” is a tangible proof of the band’s insistence to write songs that come from a place of earnestness. According to of Mercury, it’s a song about moving on and picking one’s self up from all the internal brokenness, even after being betrayed by someone who used to be important. “It was one of the biggest heartbreaks we’ve ever witnessed as a band,” the Fake Love act shares in a statement. “When we wrote this, we had this realization that we’re actually fine now and we don’t really care about the people that hurt us already.”

The song was written, arranged, and produced by of Mercury with no general idea of how it’s going to come out. While it sounds polished with the right balance of organized dissonance and pop sensibility, “I’M FINE” is one of the those tracks that didn’t really have a direction or a goal, but all the sonic elements blend together seamlessly to create something that is familiar yet uniquely of Mercury. 

“The writing was fine because we knew where to pull from, but when we got into the production, we couldn’t think of how we wanted this to sound sonically,” of Mercury admits. “We have to start from somewhere, so we randomly thought a bunch of elements onto the song, and continued throwing ideas with no pegs, no direction, whatsoever. This is the same reason why we’re starting off with this track, it was really an unknown space for us and we’re just really happy we were able to pull it off, and that everyone genuinely enjoyed this process.”

of Mercury’s new single “I’M FINE” also features Michael Flores a.k.a. Filipino rapper Hijo, who in turn, spat bars with incredible range and energy. “Hijo had a great sense of how to work with others and how to keep the vibe relaxed and fun,” says the alternative quartet. “Working with Hijo reflected how much we enjoy working with others, especially when we get the ball rolling. Everyone just bounces off each other’s ideas, expressions, opinions. It’s where we all do our best; it’s a great feeling to have with everyone.”

This particular project also marks a reunion with former bandmate Karlo Maglasang (knōwmaad) who used to play bass for the band. “To have him around after not working together for a while really brought a different view on what we were doing. We also felt like, it’s as if he never left at all. Everything felt natural and everyone was on the same wavelength.”

A music video for “I’M FINE” will be released soon.

“I’M FINE” and “HEAVEN ON EARTH” are part of the two-track volume, CHANGIN’ Vol. 1, which serves as a reintroduction of a ‘new’ old band who have found themselves reconnecting for the same goals, despite having difficulties in compromising from the beginning of their journey. By changing their moniker to of Mercury, the acclaimed quartet is ready to start a new milestone in music and get things together with a common set of values. 

In a statement posted across social networking platforms, the band cited their creative and personal disagreements as the two main reasons of the initial fallout, which caused the hiatus. At some point, the band decided to take a step back, work on their differences internally, and restart anew under a name that they feel would represent them better as artists. 

“The name (of Mercury) change brought a sense of unity within us, and we didn’t want to be exclusive about it,” of Mercury shares. “Yes, we’re part of this, but we want the people we get to work with and those who support this thing we’re doing to have a certain position to say that they are a part ‘of Mercury.’ It’s all about the bigger picture.”

of Mercury’s CHANGIN’ Vol. 1 is out now on all digital music platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines. 

UE Jam Sessions encourage the youth to rock the vote with inspiring new anthem “Pinto”

Promising newcomers COSINE, Shareena, and Autumn Tandog team up for a song that encourages the general public to vote for competent candidates who are willing to take a stand on important social issues and make a significant change.

On the rousing anthem “Pinto,” the artists from UE Jam Sessions call for effective leadership and urge their fellow countrymen, particularly the young ones, to exercise their right to vote. 

According to its main songwriter Shareena, who also lend her smooth and smoky vocals on the track, “Pinto” is penned from the perspective of someone convincing the youth to take complete ownership of their destiny and elect someone who cares about welfare of its people.

“By describing what the outside world looks like in a cruel reality, with the struggles of the people who are always overlooked, the character puts the kid in a dilemma of choosing between taking responsibility for making a change and having these people who have been knocking on his door forsaken and left behind,” the 17-year-old singer-songwriter shares the meaning behind their new track. “Hinihintay ka na nila,” which means ‘they are waiting for you,’ serves as a reminder that their fate, like yours, is now completely in your control. It is your job to decide and select the finest alternative in this regard. That’s how Pinto was made to be remembered: a song that knocks on everyone’s doors of perceptions, obliging them to make a move.”

With its gothic, bluesy nature and brassy confidence, “Pinto” delivers an unconventional sound by pop standards. Shareena and Autumn Tandog put their ethereal spin on the material, singing as if they’re witnessing history unfold. Paolo Barrado and Marvin Cayosa’s intricate arrangements, on the other hand, turn the retro-inspired, musical motif into a modern torch tune inspired by the likes of Bita and the Botflies and Lana del Rey. 

COSINE’s Marvin Cayosa shares that despite limitations that took place during the pandemic, the producers were able to improvise, and the artists were able to record separately from their respective homes. “Given that we are in a pandemic, it’s been challenging for us to record because we are far apart. When I received the demo that Shareena gave to us, I started working on it right away. With the lack of equipment and hours of trial and error in recording my part, we still managed to pull it off.”

“Pinto” is one of the new music projects spearheaded by UE Jam Sessions, with 12 Stone Records’ Tommy Tanchanco and SSG President Nexie Joy Salvador serving as Executive Producers, and Choi Felipe mixing and mastering the entire track. The music video for the track is edited by Cher Manulit.

Pinto” is out now on all digital music platforms worldwide such as Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer.

Sony Music Philippines Launches New Christian label ‘WATERWALK RECORDS’

Sony Music Philippines today announced the launch of WATERWALK RECORDS, a music label focused on bringing fresh Christian music to a new, streaming generation. The label will feature faith-based entertainment artists from across the length and breadth of the country, who represent the best of Christian music combined with their own unique styles.

“In the Philippines, Christian music emerges from daily life and is a reflection of the country’s rich culture,” said Roslyn Pineda, General Manager, Sony Music Philippines. “Pop music inspired by Christian melodies has arguably created some of the most interesting music in recent years. It’s a diverse genre full of talented artists who use faith as a regular way of connecting with people. WATERWALK RECORDS has huge opportunities to grow as we work with talented artists such as Morissette, Gloryfall and Hazel Faith and others to bring their music to fans all across Asia”.

“The Philippines is a musically rich country, well known for showcasing the best of Christian music in Southeast Asia,” said Ariel Fung, EVP, Sony Music Southeast Asia. “With WATERWALK RECORDS, our vision is to create a hub for Christian music in Asia that serves artists and writers who are creating ground-breaking music and impacting the lives of millions. Our stellar line up of artists we’re working with is just the start of helping us achieve that vision, representing the very best of local and regional talent.”

The artist, Morissette, popularly referred to as “Asia’s Phoenix”, will release the label’s first single, Waterwalk” on 28 October. “Mapayapa” — a collaboration between Christian worship band Gloryfall and singer/songwriter Hazel Faith– will be released on 30 October.

“I am thrilled to be taking part in Sony Music‘s new Christian label and get to share, and sing, of the word of God and all His great works,“ added Morissette. “ It’s only been a couple of years since I’ve made the decision to really follow Jesus and one thing I can really attest to is that we just need to trust Him in everything. I’ve been through some very challenging times too especially during this season, but it’s His grace that saves me and keeps me going, His love that comforts and protects me, and His promise that I will always keep in my heart. The track “Waterwalk” portrays all of that, and a reminder that what He has done for His people then, He will also do for His people now, we need only to anchor on to Him.”

Rapper/actor Jericho Arceo and Stell of SB19, will also release a joint singleArceo is well known for creating viral videos on social media and being a member of the cast for the show The World Between Us, while Stell who is a part of SB19, one of the most popular P-pop groups in the Philippines, is embarking on his first solo venture through this collaboration.

In another first, Nathan Huang from the band ‘of Mercury’ (formerly known as Nathan & Mercury) will also have his first solo venture through the label and will collaborate with Darla Baltazar, who was recently featured as one of the 16 Artists to Watch on the international website The Gospel Coalition.

Janine Danielle, a worship leader from Favor Church, will be singing a track penned and produced by one of Spotify’s most followed Filipino artists Moira Dela Torre, and Moira’s frequent collaborator and husband, Jason Hernandez. The lineup also includes singles from beloved worship leaders from various churches in the Philippines: Lee Simon Brown (from Victory Worship), Cola Cabalcar, Kent Charcos, Cherise Katriel, and Sam&Steff.

To showcase the richness of the region, WATERWALK RECORDS will also release a single from Ariel Tsai, a popular Taiwanese singer/songwriter, pianist, and YouTuber signed under Sony Music Taiwan.

The 12 tracks from WATERWALK RECORDS are expected to be released within this year.

syd hartha reflects complicated attitude towards love and relationships on folk-pop single “kung nag-aatubili”

Filipino singer-songwriter syd hartha returns to her roots on the stripped-down single “kung nag-aatubili.” 

The folk-pop tune will be part of her upcoming 5-track EP to be released in the first quarter of 2022, and serves as her first original material for 2021 after contributing vocals for Tokimeki Records’ city pop-inspired “Carnival” and participating in Coke Studio Season 4.

According to the 19-year-old artist, “kung nag-aatubili” reflects her complicated attitude towards romantic relationships and intimacy, which stemmed from the traumatic experiences that she endured during her younger years.

“I wrote this song a long time ago when I realized that I was starting to like someone, and I was already starting to let that person in my world, little by little,” syd admits. “Back then it just didn’t feel right, and I feared the idea of getting to know me deeply and everything I’ve become. Looking at it in the present, I figured that these feelings are a by-product of the inner wounds, and my inability to move forward from the things that happened in the past. This also serves as an important lesson to me, that when I decide to commit to love someone, I should love them for who they are now, and accept them for what they’ve been through.”

Dialing back her sound to its bare essentials without sacrificing her newfound maturity in songwriting, syd hartha has penned another understatedly beautiful track that feels more introspective than her usual confessional entries. 

Marked by warm, laid-back guitar arrangements and soothing vocals, “kung nag-aatubili” starts restrained but assured of its exquisiteness, and builds into a musical wanderlust towards the end. In terms of production, her goal is to make it as raw and intimate as possible, arriving with the promise of a home—strong, unapologetic, but comfortable in her own shedding.

The song will be accompanied by a music video slated to be released in the coming weeks. The visual treatment is conceptualized by syd herself, who in turn, wants to make the storytelling mirror her personal truths. “For this music video, Swimming Pictures helped me execute my own ideas and it was amazing working with them,” says the folk-pop act.kung nag-aatubili” is out now on all digital music platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines

Details provided by recording companies through press releases.

Header photo created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

Alessadra de Rossi launches AWOO Records and OPM news

Check out this week’s latest news in the world of Original Pilipino Music.

Hya, Alfa Join Alessandra de Rossi-helmed AWOOO Records

Fresh from the success of her directorial debut My Amanda in July, Alessandra de Rossi is now setting her sights on different waters. This time around it’s music, which she’s revisited more vigorously as of late: adopting the functional moniker ADR, reissuing her 2012 debut Adrift via Lilystars Records, even penning songs for her films. 

The difference is it’s other people’s music now. And no, De Rossi isn’t simply pimping playlists or fawning over new discoveries on her socials. She’s taking things a notch higher, putting up her own label AWOOO Records, which she’s formally unveiling to the public today (September 24) after making an under-the-radar announcement earlier in the month.

To the character-actress-turned-indie-darling, it’s not so much about scratching a visionary itch but passing deserving talents the mic. “I think [Filipinos] really stand a chance in changing how the world looks and sounds,” she says, confident that local music can enjoy the same attention other art forms like cinema are getting. “All we need is to offer something pure, peculiar, and distinct. I think we can make it, too!”

And “pure, peculiar, and distinct” was precisely what she saw in AWOOO’s two inaugural artists, both women: the Fil-German San Carlos City chanteuse Hya, and the SoCal-based singer-songwriter Alfa. The former was a talent-show champ who’s previously made the rounds—Rising Stars Philippines, Just Duet, The Will to Win—before landing a spot in Bangon Talentadong Pinoy, where De Rossi was a judge who found herself fangirling instantly. 

Hya
Hya
Alfa
Alfa

“She sounded like an angel, and my world just stopped. I knew in my heart that this girl, given a chance, could be someone new singers can look up to,” De Rossi says of Hya (or Lee’Anna Weber Layumas), whose impressive range and knack for soothing melodies the actress also singled out. Her lilting debut single “Raindrops,” arranged and co-produced with Nick Lazaro for La Balls Studio, is out today.

Alfa, whom Eric Gnezda of PBS’ Songs at the Center calls “everything you want in a singer-songwriter,” is a schooled multi-instrumentalist who gravitated towards songcraft very early on, eventually releasing three albums, an EP, and snagging herself top honors in the world category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2020. 

While shades of chillwave and ambient pop permeate the music of AWOOO’s banner artists, De Rossi insists she is more after a feeling. “As long as you make me feel something, or if you make me feel like I’m not alone—when your music can be my best friend—it really becomes AWOOO,” she says playfully, speaking of how Hya provides “courage in times of unrest” and how Alfa “sings like no one is listening.”

AWOOO, which means “a world of our own,” is a sublabel of Lilystars Records, whose head honcho Clem Castro serves as partner and de facto adviser. 

“It took twenty years for people to actually believe in me,” the AWOOO label head says, alluding to her slow but steady ascent in film and television. “I hope God blesses me with the right people, so that I can serve these artists and they don’t have to wait as long to be heard and understood.”  

Filipino-Australian artist Bryan Estepa sparkles with newfound exuberance on 6-track EP, Back To The Middle

Two years on from the release of his sixth studio album, Sometimes I Just Don’t Know in 2019, Filipino-Australian artist Bryan Estepa returns with another exciting set of soulful and melodic guitar pop. Released under Lilystars Records, Estepa’s new EP, Back To The Middle grows closer to home with its penchant for warm, inviting hooks and sunburst instrumentation.  

Bryan-July2021-Press Pic 1 (1)
Bryan Estepa

Lyrically speaking, there is no set thematic agenda when the acclaimed singer-songwriter conceptualized and penned Back To The Middle. In an authentic troubadour fashion, Estepa lets the song take him to where it wants to go most of the time. “But by the end I did notice a leaning towards the idea of letting go and acceptance,” Estepa shares in a statement. “Life throws us curveballs that we may not want or see coming, but then we ask ourselves how do we deal with them? There’s always a slither of light ahead.”

While his previous record, Sometimes I Just Don’t Know exhibited a more melancholic, brooding treatment, Estepa’s six-song EP essentially gravitates on a balance between light and shade, with songs whose bright sparks pop up. Expanding his sonic palette with power pop choruses and irresistible exuberance, Back To The Middle sounds brighter and jumpier than he’s never sounded before, and is buoyed with a renewed sense of energy.

The new EP includes the weightlessly effervescent ‘Trick Of The Light,’ which NME praised for “evoking classic pop harmonies and alt-rock unease” and the ‘90s alt-rocker ‘Admit Now, Pay Later,’ which garnered approval from Rolling Stone Australia for heralding “a change in his own approach to songwriting.” 

The title track ‘Back To The Middle’ is particularly interesting in a way that it evokes a different kind of joy and feel-good melody on a resonant level. “To me, it’s a good little upbeat pop tune that has all the hallmarks that I like in a song – a good hook, catchy harmonies and jangly guitars,” Estepa explains. 

Everything You Wanted’ changes gear with its wistful Americana-leaning power pop vista, while ‘Little White Lie’ reveals itself to be a kaleidoscopic beauty of a tune that allows Estepa to experiment with keys, synth horns, baroque pop flourishes and artful backing harmonies. Rounding out the release is a lilting cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘I Threw It All Away,’ from the 1969 album, Nashville Skyline.

Back To The Middle was recorded during the pandemic period, and was a product of Bryan Estepa’s eagerness to connect with people again, at least on a musical level. Needing to scratch a niggling creative itch, he got together with multi-ARIA and APRA award-winning Australian songwriter Josh Pyke, who helped shape the record with richness and timelessness embedded in its layers. 

According to Estepa, what makes the record a clear cut above the rest is how he gave way to Josh Pyke’s production ideas and allowed the award-winning producer’s creative spin to add magic to these songs. “It felt really good to let Josh Pyke take control of production duties from the moment I handed over a bunch of my demos to him,” the pop-rock artist admits. “I have normally come to the studio very much prepared with production and overall sound ideas. But we approached this differently in that we built each song over the day and sometimes even finished writing them together just before we hit record, like on ‘Everything you wanted’. It was exciting watching the songs unveil themselves as we were trying new arrangements, going with weird instrument choices and not being afraid to try anything that will make the song distinct in its own way.”

About Bryan Estepa

Born in Cubao, Quezon City in the Philippines, Estepa and his family moved to Sydney, Australia in 1987. It was there, at the age of 15, that he began to pursue the craft of songwriting before starting his adult musical journey fronting indie pop band Swivel in the late-90s pub scene. He recorded his inaugural CD with the band, which paved the way for his solo career. A year of travelling across the USA and performing at open mic nights inspired songs for his debut EP, Start Again in 2003 and since then Estepa has gone on to release six critically acclaimed solo albums (All The Bells And Whistles, Sunday Best, Vessels, Heart Vs Mind, Every Little Thing and Sometimes I Just Don’t Know).

Estepa recently wrote a piece for SBS detailing his formative musical years as a Filipino growing up in Western Sydney and early in 2021 he appeared as a guest-host on ABC Radio’s Weekend Evenings, broadcast live across Australia, discussing his career in music.

Def Jam Philippines releases “Puso At Diskarte,” another game-changing hip-hop anthem

Def Jam Philippines, considered as one of the most respected record labels in the country, returns with a game-changing posse cut featuring some of the most important rap acts of our time.

“Puso At Diskarte,” the first single off the label’s second compilation EP, RHAPSODICITY, brings together veteran and rising Filipino hip-hop artists such as ASTRO of Owfuck, ZARGON, HONCHO of Ex-Battalion, DCOY (Wakin Burdado) of Madd Poets, MIKE KOSA of 187 Mobstaz, PRICETAGG and LAYZIE FU of 4 East Flava on the same page—each offering distinct expertise and star power to the mix.

puso at diskarte def jam philippines
Def Jam Philippines

Produced by CURSEBOX, the anthemic banger delivers show-stopping verses that set the bar high for hip-hop collaborations, and massive, titanium-grade beats that blur the boundaries between gangsta rap and contemporary urban music. 

According to Allan Mitchell “Daddy A” Silonga, A&R Senior Manager of Def Jam Philippines, “Puso At Diskarte” started out as a concept which aims to gather hip-hop icons from different affiliations and groups within the community. “With the help of Dcoy, we’ve messaged them one by one, and explained to them the vision behind the project,” the label honcho shares in a statement. “We’ve always wanted to foster dream collaborations that push the envelope in terms of artistry and impact, and produce an iconic music video to complement the bigness of the idea. ‘Puso At Diskarte’ not only shines the spotlight on grander themes in hip-hop, but also elevates it as an art form and a cultural force.” 

Lyrically speaking, the all-star collab track documents the struggles of every hip-hop artist involved in the project and how they managed to survive the odds through determination, commitment, and hard work. All the participating artists penned their parts, with Daddy A co-writing some of the verses and the bridge. This exchange of ideas resulted into a compelling rap tune that fosters a sense of community and teamwork, honoring what Def Jam stands for in the first place both as a label and as a pioneering hip-hop dynamo.

“Puso At Diskarte” serves as the maiden track off Def Jam Philippines’ collaborative EP, RHAPSODICITY, which is touted as a “lyrical EP.” The upcoming compilation will also feature tracks such as the propulsive jam “Lahing Maangas,” the lyrical heavyweight “Diversity,” the future smash “Lakbay,” and the Pino G.-produced “Epic.” 

As Daddy A puts it, “This EP will be remembered because of the lineup of artists and their collaborators. It’s really a miracle specially during this pandemic to put together a massive EP like this. This is gonna be epic!”

About Def Jam Recordings 

Founded in 1984, Def Jam Recordings began as a maverick independent label inspired by downtown New York City’s vibrant street culture and the emerging sound of hip-hop. Def Jam has represented the very best in cutting-edge music for 35 years, pioneered by iconic stars like LL Cool J, Slick Rick, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. Over the following two decades, Def Jam established its dominance with superstar acts like Jay-Z, DMX, Ja Rule, Method Man & Redman, Ludacris, Rihanna, Jeezy, and the inimitable Kanye West. Now in its fourth decade, Def Jam’s music and lifestyle has grown into a global brand – synonymous with creativity, quality and authenticity – encompassing a diverse roster of marquee and emerging stars like West, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Logic, Pusha T, Jadakiss, Vince Staples, Jeremih, Big Sean, YG, 2 Chainz, Dave East, and Jhene Aiko, among others.

Images and details provided in recent press releases

Worth a listen: January 2021 in Music

The local and international music scene continues to evolve and thrive despite the limitations resulting from the global pandemic. In this post, I have listed the hottest news in music for the first month of 2021 for you music lovers to enjoy.

In 2020, Bryan Estepa released two new songs, continuing on from the success of his exceptional 2019 album Sometimes I Just Don’t Know. The second of those singles, ‘Admit Now, Pay Later’, received a video premiere on Rolling Stone Australia, was featured on NME Australia and had strong national radio airplay – including selection as one of the featured Singles of the Week on 2ser FM in Sydney. Now the Sydney-based Filipino songwriter reveals the second of his collaborative efforts with multi ARIA and APRA award-winning Australian songwriter Josh Pyke.

Estepa has always had an undeniable ear for hooks. Combined with classic pop and rock arrangements, (like his heroes You Am I, The Beatles and Wilco) his songs always possess a timeless quality. He’s proved it over and over again across six acclaimed albums and live shows in Australia, Japan, the USA, UK, Spain, Sweden and the Philippines.  

On ‘Trick of the Light’, Estepa combines heavenly melodies and a melancholic air on this irresistible slice of indie guitar pop, singing about acceptance, letting go and allowing yourself to feel whatever it is that comes out while you’re treading new waters. As always with his songwriting, there are layered poetic brushstrokes in the way Estepa blends and informs his songs with multiple meanings, as he explains. “I also like the idea that the presence of light does not necessarily signal happiness or life but can also mean that emotions and perception can be blurred by its appearance.”

Working with Pyke, Estepa was impressed with the producer’s instinct and ability to enhance the inherent strengths of Estepa’s songs. “It’s exciting watching Josh work! You sense that his creative light is always on and he needs to get his ideas out quickly before it starts to flicker. He takes on what I think the song’s direction might be but adds a couple of detours that are normally right on the money.”

Pyke is quick to reciprocate the praise. “Bryan’s a great writer and collaborator. He’s got a classic pop sensibility but is really open to feedback and experimentation which made my job as producer really fun and free.”

Sonically, there’s a beautiful weightlessness to the production and instrumentation that gracefully carries the song. Guitars sparkle and lightly jangle amid some sublime piano, backing vocals and percussive elements that add unique detailing to the melodic richness of the track.  

ZAYN scores another No.1 album in the Philippines with ‘Nobody Is Listening’

January 2021 in Music

ZAYN’s third studio release Nobody is Listening makes history once again as it debuts at No. 1 on iTunes Philippines Top 100 albums chart a few hours after its release. Co-written by ZAYN, the project highlights his R&B influences and showcases deeply personal lyrics. Nobody is Listening sees ZAYN in complete creative control, from designing the album cover art to his sound, he has created a moment in music that is all his own.

The album contains the previously released singles “Vibez” and “Better,” both of which were embraced by fans and critics alike, with Wonderland proclaiming ZAYN was here to “save 2021” with the release of “Vibez” and Billboard calling “Better” a “straightforward R&B track, expressing love in spite of disagreement and designed to showcase one of the most skilled voices in modern pop.” The latter single has accrued over 105 million streams across all platforms, and upon release the video received a half a million views in the first 10 minutes.

ZAYN’s critically acclaimed debut album Mind of Mine saw him become the first male solo artist in the world to simultaneously chart at #1 on the UK and US album charts in the first week of release. The album’s lead single “Pillowtalk” hit #1 in 68 countries around the world and was recently included in Billboard’s “Songs That Defined the Decade” list.

His follow up, Icarus Falls, captivated fans and garnered over 5 billion worldwide streams across all platforms in less than a year, a staggering feat for any artist. Alongside his solo success, ZAYN has also collaborated with a variety of artists, including Taylor Swift and SIA and most recently lent his vocals on “Trampoline” with Shaed, which received an iHeart Music Award for “Best Remix.” Alongside building a reputation as a world class music artist, ZAYN has become one of music’s biggest fashion icons. He has graced the cover of every major magazine from Highsnobiety to Vogue. In addition to being named “Most Stylish Man” at the GQ Man of the Year awards, he also was awarded “New Artist of the Year” at the American Music Awards and “Top New Artist” at the Billboard Music Awards. Nobody is Listening was released via RCA Records.

American recording star MAX and SUGA of BTS drops a star-studded remix of “Blueberry Eyes,” feat. Lil Mosey and Olivia O’Brien

After the global success of their maiden collab smash, Acclaimed pop sensation MAX and SUGA of BTS are committed to redefining the top 40 landscape with the release of “Blueberry Eyes” remix, featuring breakthrough hip-hop star Lil Mosey and singer-songwriter Olivia O’Brien.

“Having Lil Mosey, the mastermind behind ‘Blueberry Faygo,’ add his story to ‘Blueberry Eyes’ felt too iconic not to create the ultimate blueberry hit song,” said MAX. “The cherry on top is getting to add the legendary voice of my friend Olivia O’Brien. I’m so excited for this final chapter of ‘Blueberry Eyes’ with my brother SUGA and honored to work with all of these incredible artists on this new version of the song.”

On the day of its release, MAX and Suga were featured on the cover of Apple Music’s New Music Daily playlist and the song went No.1 on iTunes in 66 countries as well as trended No. 1 worldwide on Twitter and No.1 on YouTube’s Video Hot List. “Blueberry Eyes” has also been featured on several of Spotify’s coveted playlists including Today’s Top Hits, Pop Rising and Mood Booster, to name but a few.

The song follows the release of MAX’s “Blueberry Eyes” feat. SUGA of BTS [Steve Aoki Remix], which has more than 5 million global streams and 2 million views on YouTube.

MAX has been labelled a “Young Pop God” by GQ and named a “top popstar to watch” by Billboard. Since the breakout success of his debut album ‘Hell’s Kitchen Angel’, he has garnered more than 1.2 billion streams and toured the world multiple times over. He yielded an inescapable smash with his 3x platinum hit “Lights Down Low,” which generated over half a billion streams globally, soared on the Billboard Hot 100, reached No. 7 at Top 40 radio and earned him an iHeartRadio Music Awards nomination for “Best New Pop Artist.” Most recently, MAX released his sophomore album ‘Colour Vision’ featuring his current single “Blueberry Eyes” feat. SUGA of BTS.

Ritt Momney’s “Put Your Records On,” now a hit in the Philippines!

Ritt Momney’s rework of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On” is now a certified smash in the Philippines. The sleeper hit that catapulted the 21-year-old producer and singer-songwriter into global fame, has now reached a top 10 peak on Spotify Philippines’ Top 50 this week, and continues to impact mainstream radio stations such as Monster RX 93.1 (No. 8), 99.5 Play FM (No. 8), and more.

Jack Rutter, the man behind the Salt Lake City-based music project, is amazed by the attention that his take on the 2006 classic is receiving. “I didn’t expect the cover to be anything more than a fun little release in between albums,” he shares in a statement. “I was super surprised to see it taking off on TikTok. It’s been the coolest thing ever to see people from other countries enjoying it.”
The hip-hop-flavored, electro pop tune initially gained significant traction via online video platform, TikTok before it blew up on several music markets worldwide, including a top 10 placement on Australia and New Zealand’s official charts, and a No. 1 peak on Spotify US and Global Viral 50 charts late last year.

Released a few weeks ago, its music video finds Jack Rutter “imagining himself as a future pop star stuck in a psychedelic dreamscape.”

Ritt Momney’s version stays truthful to the pop sensibility of Corinne Bailey Rae’s hit record, but his trademark lo-fi production somehow gives the track a fresh, contemporary spin. “I really didn’t change much, and I think it’s really important to remember that what makes it good is the songwriting that Corinne and her co-writers did on the track,” says the multi-talented crossover act. “I may have modernized it a bit, but I hope people don’t give me too much credit for that.”

Corinne Bailey Rae, the original artist behind the soulful track, gave Ritt Momney her blessing in an intimate Zoom chat sometime last year. Like Ritt Momney, her original version became a huge hit when it first came out, peaking at No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart, and becoming a staple in several singing shows across the globe.

Details and images were provided in recent press releases.

Sponge Cola releases “Siguro Nga,” a song inspired by K-drama series, Start-Up

Sponge Cola is no stranger to writing music inspired by their love for cinema and pop culture. In fact, the four-piece alternative rock outfit named their debut full-length album, Palabas to acknowledge the compelling impact of shows—be it a theatrical play, a dramatic film, or an episode in a television series—in making us understand our own lives, the lives of those around us, and the lives of people whose contributions to humanity deserve to be celebrated at all cost.

With this creative pursuit comes a tribute to the blockbuster K-drama series, Start-Up, which is currently heaping praises all around the world for its gripping story on young entrepreneurs aspiring to make it big in the competitive world of Korean high-tech industry. Sponge Cola released “Siguro Nga” as a song born out of vocalist and guitarist Yael Yuzon’s love for Han Ji-Pyeong, a prominent character whose unconventional upbringing and misfortunes in life enabled him to become a principled, self-made man with a tough exterior and unbeknownst to everyone—a tender heart.

“Immediately after the shock of episode 9, I literally picked up a guitar and began writing the song,” Yuzon shares in a statement. “I didn’t know how the story was going to unfold, but at that point, I felt like it wasn’t going to work out for Han Ji Pyeong’s character. And while heartbreak wouldn’t ravage him, it leaves him with an undulating kind of pain.”

“Siguro Nga” builds on this nuanced character study of a man realizing that he’s lost the love of his life, after spending a great deal of time living a lie to protect the person he’s pining for, from emotional harm and trauma. It’s a soaring acoustic number that is propelled by a genuine reverence for empathy and romantic yearning, but never quite reaches a climatic run arrangements-wise, as it ends on a miserable note, with the subject of the song stuck in a rut, hoping to relive his past to undo his mistakes.

According to Yuzon, the song arrived in the middle of recording phase for their forthcoming album to be released next year. “The process was a bit more theatrical than what we’re accustomed to,” he admits. “As a singer, I had to be in character, which made the recording process a bit grueling.” In order to capture the very essence of the song, Yuzon had to experience some of Han Ji Pyeong’s crucial scenes in the series, including having to bask in the rain for minutes and reliving the memories of standing next to a corn dog stall. “I also had to face someone looking at me with ‘those eyes’ while pretending to be fine. Couple that with the idea of multiple takes, it was tiring but ultimately fulfilling.”

Armo Armovit, the band’s lead guitarist explains how the arrangements for “Siguro Nga” came to play. “Like most of our songs from the previous albums, we started by recording a very basic acoustic guitar as a foundation. Yael himself played the rhythm to make it consistent with how he initially wrote the song and his melody. Everything else on top of that are layers of sound to decorate and enhance the song’s emotional content.” Bassist Gosh Dilay adds, “We tried some experimentation in terms of overall sound– but we reserved a version specifically for future live performances of the song.”

“Siguro Nga” was recorded at Love One Another studios, and was mixed and mastered by Joey Santos. Armovit, who praised Santos for doing an excellent job in designing sounds and layering them to tell a story, was very much happy with the final product. “His familiarity with a wide range of music, and ability to create the appropriate textures for the song was a very welcome and refreshing addition to the production process. Everything you hear that isn’t the usual drums, bass, vocals, and guitar are all him.”

Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga” is out now on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines.

Get in the Christmas spirit with Lilystars Records’ compilation album, IN REVERIE

Philippine indie music label Lilystars Records brings festive warmth to music listeners all around the world with the release of IN REVERIE: A Lilystars Christmas Compilation.

In keeping up with the tradition of spreading Holiday cheers, the 11-track album offers heartfelt music that evokes the reassuring comfort of home and togetherness even in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

According to Clem Castro, the CEO of Lilystars Records, the compilation release is more than just a reflection of longing, hope and love. “It’s a call to keep our spirits alive no matter what we are facing. There are also tracks about celebration, optimism, loneliness and even dismay.”

While Christmas can mean a lot of things to different people, IN REVERIE: A Lilystars Christmas Compilation isn’t afraid to explore themes that indirectly address the current pandemic situation. “We can’t say if this release will have an impact for those who are having a difficult time with the pandemic, but we are hoping it does make a difference, Clem shares. “This serves as our gift to music fans this holiday season.”

Helmed with Hallmark-inspired melodies, vibrant arrangements, and intimate songwriting, the songs in Lilystars Records’ IN REVERIE offer an alternative listening experience for discerning music fans who want their Christmas jams a little bit on the obscure side. It covers a diverse selection of tunes with genres spanning pop, folk, blues, jazz, indie rock, twee, electronic pop, post-punk, and alternative music.

Clem admits that there was no selection process for the compilation album. Instead, he challenged some of the artists in the roster to write and produce their own original Christmas songs. “We have a high regard with the capacity of our artists and their contribution exceeded our expectations. We commend their commitment to produce the tracks on their own, either recording at home or with help of friends or people they work with to bring life to their record.”

Eleven artists from Lilystars Records participated in the call for submissions, which is more than enough to complete a proper album. The result is a unique collection of songs, defined by the sound of each artist and their own personal sentiments about the season. The track list includes:

  1. Christmas Daydreams – Orange & Lemons
  2. Blue For Christmas – Meagan Trees
  3. The Kids Are Out – The Bloomfields
  4. 1225 – Project Orange
  5. Feliz Navidad (I’m Falling Apart) – Dey Rose
  6. This Christmas Time – Dustybuns
  7. A December Afternoon – Parasouls
  8. Yo! Santa! – The Charmes
  9. Christmas Mourning – The Geeks
  10. Xmust – Kubra Commander
  11. Good Night – Starry Eyed Cadet

IN REVERIE: A Lilystars Christmas Compilation is now available on all digital platforms worldwide via Lilystars Records.

Ben&Ben music video of KathNiel-starrer “Sa Susunod na Habang Buhay”

“What if every time one dies, they go back to their first date with one of them carrying memories from their previous run?”

Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla stars as a romantic couple stuck in a time loop in the new music video for Ben&Ben’s “Sa Susunod na Habang Buhay.”
Helmed by the band’s resident director Jorel Lising and written by Gaya Sa Pelikula creator Juan Miguel Severo, the song’s visual narrative explores the complicated relationship dynamics of two lovers who have lost and found each other in a fated cycle of events.

Complicated love in a time loop

Severo reveals that “Sa Susunod na Habang Buhay,” a song that deals with the “possibility of another life to succeed in love,” complements the KathNiel starrer that he has in mind. Having written Hintayan ng Langit, an evocative piece that examines eternal romance in the afterlife, Severo decided to do away with another reincarnation story for his interpretation of the material.

“Then it hit me, what about a couple stuck in a time loop?”, the prolific writer points out. “What if every time one dies, they go back to their first date with one of them carrying memories from their previous run? It took the band, Direk, and I a couple of zoom calls, brainstorming ideas to compound on that concept and get everything laid out before I presented it to KathNiel.”

Severo’s writing lends to a beautifully understated film that allows KathNiel to tackle their role with nuanced sensitivity and depth. To make it more impactful on screen, music video director Jorel Lising makes use of non-liner, fragmented storytelling as a way to capture the couple’s memories in its undiluted form. Lising adds, “It all comes from the content of the song – it’s a strong piece that speaks about love lost and an intense sense of longing, so the process of developing the treatment and Severo’s script came from that. The challenge for us was to maximize the emotion based on that kind of narrative.”

Working with KathNiel

According to the band’s co-vocalist and acoustic guitarist Miguel Benjamin, the journey behind the music video was both a dream and a serendipitous sequence of events. “About two months ago, an interesting exchange came up while our keyboardist Patricia Lasaten was working on the music of Juan Miguel Severo’s Gaya Sa Pelikula,” says Miguel. “As a way of showing appreciation when we offered our song ‘Ride Home’ to the series, Juan Miguel graciously offered us in return to write a script for the ‘Sa Susunod Na Habang Buhay’ MV, and pitch it to KathNiel, as they are good friends. We pushed through, and to our surprise, they loved both the idea of working with all of us and the script. This was a big thing for us because we never expected that these great artists would be open to doing a music video with us, given their stature and busy schedules.”

Despite the time constraints, Lising didn’t experience difficulty working with one of the biggest love teams in recent memory. The nine-piece collective’s frequent collaborator recounts that he only has few adjustments for every take, thanks to KathNiel’s astounding professionalism and craft. “We didn’t have a whole lot of time with them, but they definitely possess star power quality on camera. Every frame we took of them has a strong presence that comes with lots of experience, especially since they’ve been acting for so long now.”

Image and details provided by Sony Music Philippines in a recent press release.

Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys redefine modern pop with new single “Matches”

New Glory deluxe edition available now at digital service providers featuring “Matches,” “Swimming in the Stars” & “Mood Ring (by demand).”

Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys surprised music fans all over the world with the release of their collaborative track “Matches”—out today via RCA Records. The Ian Kirkpatrick and Michael Wise-produced track is featured on the new edition of Britney’s 2016 album, Glory, along with recently released songs “Swimming In The Stars” and “Mood Ring (By Demand).” 

Backed with infectious, clubby beats and intricate production details, “Matches” sounds prime for top 40 radio and streaming dominance. The song is featured in various New Music Friday playlists across the globe, including the Philippines—one of its formidable markets. The song is currently at No. 2 on iTunes Philippines, while the deluxe edition of the album that it’s part of, has peaked at No. 1 a few hours after the track’s release.

Just last week, “Swimming In The Stars” was released along with the new limited edition deluxe vinyl of Glory. 

ABOUT BRITNEY SPEARS

Multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning pop icon Britney Spears is one of the most successful and celebrated entertainers in pop history with nearly 150 million records worldwide. In the U.S. alone, she has sold more than 70 million albums, singles and songs, according to Nielsen Music. Born in Mississippi and raised in Louisiana, Spears became a household name as a teenager when she released her first single “…Baby One More Time,” a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 smash and international hit that broke sales records with more than 20 million copies sold worldwide and is currently 14x Platinum in the U.S.

Her musical career boasts countless awards and accolades, including seven Billboard Music Awards and Billboard’s Millennium Award, which recognizes outstanding career achievements and influence in the music industry as well as an American Music Award and the 2011 MTV Video Vanguard Award. So far, Spears has earned a total of six No.1-debuting albums on the Billboard 200 chart and 34 top 40 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 — four of which went to No. 1. Spears has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and won for Best Dance Recording in 2005.

Not only has Britney’s music touched the lives of millions, but she has also used her global platform and voice to support the LGBTQ community, from the Dream Act to anti-transgender bills in Texas. As a longtime ally of the community, she most recently received GLAAD’s 2018 Vanguard Award, which is presented to media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance of LGBTQ people.

After her cutting-edge pop concert Las Vegas residency, “Britney: Piece of Me,” at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino ended in December 2017, Spears took her show on the road with a “Piece of Me” global tour in summer 2018. Britney has been creating fragrances for over ten years, and her scents are available in over 85 countries around the world.

ABOUT BACKSTREET BOYS

For 26 years the Backstreet Boys have delivered the finest pop music one has to offer, making them one of pop’s most influential performers. With countless #1s, record-setting tours, numerous awards and worldwide sales in excess of 130 million, BSB has been recognized as the best-selling boy band in history.

In early 2019, BSB released their GRAMMY nominated 10th studio album “DNA” on RCA Records. The album debuted at #1 and features the Top 10 hit “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” The critically acclaimed and chart topping single was nominated for the “Pop Duo / Group Performance” 2019 GRAMMY, and was BSB’s first hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 10 years. Upon its release, the single went straight to #1 on iTunes Top Songs and Global charts and charted in over 22 countries.

In May 2019 the Backstreet Boys kicked off “The DNA World Tour” – the group’s biggest arena tour in 18 years thanks to the global success of their #1 new album. The DNA World Tour has seen the group sell out arenas all over North America, Europe, Asia and South America. 

Over the years, the Backstreet Boys have continually captivated millions of people with their impressive catalogue of hit songs and creative partnerships. Most recently, we saw the group’s highly successful Las Vegas Residency “Larger Than Life” become the fastest selling residency in Las Vegas history; along with hilarious collaborations with Jimmy Fallon and James Corden; a #1 Country radio single with Florida Georgia Line; and viral remixes of their hit song “I Want It That Way” by Chance The Rapper and Lil Uzi.

Image and details provided by RCA Records in a recent press release.