syd hartha reflects on her self-awakening with new single “hiwaga”

In less than two years of being signed under Sony Music Philippines, syd hartha quickly rose to prominence with compelling pop/folk anthems that expertly balance lyrical depth with relatability and social relevance. From taking a pro-woman stand on “ayaw” to documenting the importance of self-restraint on “paru-paro,” the young singer-songwriter marks a clear step forward in terms of exploring outsider themes that even her contemporaries would seem to avoid. 

Having that same grasp of writerly elegance without resorting to repeating herself, syd hartha takes a moment to reflect on her personal actions through her latest single, “hiwaga”—a stunningly produced, stripped-down tune that deals with self-awakening and healing in preparation to becoming “the best version of herself”—to reference a line from the coming-of-age film, Lady Bird

Writing from a place of newfound perspective and riveting wisdom, syd wrote “hiwaga” as a reminder that no matter who you are and what you may be going through, you are still capable of being part of a better change. “Basically, the love you have for yourself reflects to everyone and everything around you,” the critically acclaimed musician explains. “There was a time in my life where I felt so stuck and started to question my existence and the reason for everything. What inspired me to write this song is my awakening to the fact that I was given this life for a reason. I want to heal so I can be the best version of myself for everyone around me and I want to inspire people to do the same.”

Quite a diversion from her usual sound, “hiwaga” is produced by Johnoy Danao, and performed with her backing band consisting of Bea Fabros, Raisa Racelis and Pat Sarabia. According to syd hartha, the track was recorded at the confines of the musicians’ homes under the guidance of Johnoy Danao. “Initially, we thought of a big production incorporating more instruments like horns, but we decided we wanted to give the song a lot of room to breathe and let the lyrics shine.” syd adds, “recording ‘hiwaga,’ was definitely challenging because it was our first time producing a single without seeing each other.”

The song also features a rap verse from syd herself, who admits that hip-hop has greatly influenced her songwriting. “As someone who’s so fond of several hip-hop artists’ writing and delivery, I noticed how stronger and more effective it is when the message is somehow spoken instead of sung. Also, when I wrote ‘hiwaga,’ it all started with just words; it was me having a conversation with myself. I decided then that I wanted the feel to be more conversational and more focused on the message of the lyrics.” 

syd hartha’s “hiwaga” is out now on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines.

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

Maris Racal shows her introspective side on new single “Not For Me”

Aside from making a name for herself as one of the breakout young actresses of her generation, Maris Racal has successfully dabbled in writing her own songs and challenging industry expectations with her intimate and refreshing take on pop music. From penning the chart-topping confessional “Ikaw Lang Sapat Na” to collaborating with Rico Blanco on the city pop-influenced ditty “Abot Langit,” Racal is surprisingly an effective chronicler of love anthems for the modern age—a guitar-toting songstress known for balancing commercial appeal with artistic integrity.

Bursting with youthful fervor and charismatic edge, Maris Racal’s latest single “Not For Me” stretches her introspective side of music-making to interesting places, while retaining the accessibility of her recent crossover hits. Her resounding confidence translates perfectly into the musical output, but it’s her conversational and matter-of-fact songwriting style that earns the stripes, revealing a degree of self-assuredness that comes with experience.

Inspired by Britpop acts such as Aqualung and folk-pop chanteuses like Lily Allen and Regina Spektor, Racal wrote “Not For Me” not so much for intriguing unconventionality, but as an outlet to express herself in a way that feels truthful and inherently raw. The driving piano chords and the soaring arrangements give her storytelling a more authentic spin, lending it an effortless breeziness while making sure it doesn’t lessen the emotional impact of the song.

With “Not For Me” putting a spotlight on her songwriting strengths, Maris Racal explores the complexities of romantic uncertainty with a surprisingly nuanced approach—unfiltered, no longer afraid of possibilities, and ready to own the moment.  

Not For Me” is out now on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines.

Ben&Ben launches official fandom “Liwanag”

Fresh off the success of their BBTV episodes, Ben&Ben have launched their official fan club “Liwanag” as an initiative to help spread the band’s message of faith, hope and love. The initiative also celebrates the community’s unwavering bayanihan spirit and optimism to advocate for meaningful change and unity through music, despite the challenges that the nation is currently facing.

Presented with the opportunity to instill a deeper purpose in building a community that inspires people and connecting with fans on a more meaningful and intimate level, and after considering the suggestions of their music fans and conducting a careful deliberation process with their management team, the award-winning band decided to rename their fan base “Liwanag.”

“”Liwanag” is the new, official fandom name of Ben&Ben! We have heard your suggestions. We want to honor our Filipino heritage, at higit sa lahat, kayo ang Liwanag namin. #BenAndBenLiwanagFandom,” says Ben&Ben in an official statement.

Ben&Ben recently broke the Internet with their second batch of K-Pop covers featuring songs by BTS, GOT7, EXO and more.

#BBTVkpoptwo trended on Twitter Philippines at #1 again, similar to the previous BBTV episodes.

Join the Ben&Ben House here.

Details and image provided by Sony Music Philippines in a recent press release.

Rico Blanco releases fun, upbeat single “Happy Feelin”

Alternative rock icon Rico Blanco spreads love and positivity amidst difficult times on his new single, “Happy Feelin”—now out on all digital platforms worldwide.

On his second release this year under Sony Music, the award-winning producer and singer-songwriter delivers a bright, upbeat number that soars with an inescapable chorus and a rockabilly vibe.

For someone who has spent a career pushing pop music to exciting new places, Rico Blanco succeeds in releasing a diverse selection of tunes that blends crossover appeal with an adventurous edge. Count “Happy Feelin” as the latest addition to his winning streak: a finger-snapping, retro-leaning bop that finds Blanco dialing down his sonic ambition for something that resembles a big ball of sunshine.

“Happy Feelin” is the second song written and produced by Blanco in his home studio during the lockdown period. It’s the follow-up single to “This Too Shall Pass,” which was released on the first week of May 2020.

Stream Rico Blanco’s latest single here.

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

Exclusive: SB19 drops their highly anticipated debut album, ‘Get in the Zone’

SB19 pushes the envelope of pop music with the release of their debut full-length album, Get in the Zone, out now on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music.  

Mashing together various music influences with top-tier production and global appeal, the nine-track release features six original compositions, along with the EDM version of “Love Goes” and two instrumental songs.

Thematically speaking, Get in the Zone maps their creative and personal journey. “It hasn’t been long since we released our debut single ‘Tilaluha,’ but prior to that, we have been training for years already,” says Sejun. “We wanted to incorporate all the things that we have experienced during trainee days into this album by putting all the emotions that we went through into our music. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but we pulled through and we hope that we get to inspire people with our story.”

SB19’s first album kicks off with the two-punch knockout of “Alab” and “Go Up”—both chart-topping singles that bask in electronic grooves, pulsating hip-hop rhythms, and technicolored beats. These songs not only exude outsized charisma, but it also showcases SB19’s potential as a phenomenal pop group capable of defying trends and trailblazing a new movement in the international music arena.  

Get in the Zone takes a more somber turn with “Tilaluha,” a stripped-down ballad that tackles one’s remorse over reciprocated romance. It’s a refreshing misnomer in a record filled with upbeat jams and shiny pop tunes, and one that blows the roof off, vocal performance-wise. 

The winsome streak continues with the R&B-infused “Love Goes,” a song that talks about one’s suffering over a lost loved one, and its sequel, “Hanggang Sa Huli,” which allows the broken person to heal and find comfort in a kind of love that lasts a lifetime. The sonically adventurous album also includes “Wag Mong Ikunot Ang Iyong Noo,” a Filipino adaptation of the Korean ‘90s smash “Sarangeun Ya YaYa,” as well as an EDM remix and two bonus tracks.

According to Sejun, what sets Get in the Zone apart from other contemporary releases is the collaborative synergy between K-pop producers and Filipino talents, resulting into an exciting yet compelling final product. “It’s a great thing to get all the good traits from Korean and Philippine music/culture, and put them together into one. If you’ll dive deep into it, you’ll find a whole new sound rich in both cultures.”

As for the creative process, SB19 members Justin, Sejun, Josh, Ken, and Stell are very hands on when it comes to writing songs and creating melodies. Justin shares, “In this album, we didn’t collaborate with any other artist. We also wrote the lyrics for all the songs ourselves, but we’ve worked with Korean Producers who have also worked with famous artists in Korea already. It was a different experience for each producer since they have different styles, but overall, everything was fun and exciting.”

The award-winning band dedicates their new album, Get in the Zone to every single one of their A’TIN fans who have relentlessly supported their music through thick and thin. “All our achievements to date would not have been possible without you,” says Josh. “So in return we will work harder and continue to uplift you with more music and content so that we can give back the love we’ve received from you.”

Check out SB19’s Get in the Zone here.

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

Barbie Almalbis honors Filipino optimism with “Umagang Kay Ganda” music video

Filipina rock icon Barbie Almalbis hopes to encourage and inspire listeners to rise above the extraordinary times.

With the official release of “Umagang Kay Ganda,” the third single of her upcoming new album under Sony Music Philippines, the Dahilan singer-songwriter uses her platform to pay tribute to the courage and optimism of the Filipino people.

“The current situation has made so many of us experience such a profound sense of loss, and it has also given us a rare chance to stop and reassess our lives and consider the things that we really value,” the acclaimed pop-rock artist shares. “I hope Umagang Kay Ganda will be a blessing especially to our frontliners. It is our little way to say thank you for the selflessness that they have continually shown and the sacrifices that they have made to help us get through this together.”

With the help of constant collaborators, Barbie and her bandmates put a creative stamp in reimagining “Umagang Kay Ganda,” while making sure that its empowering message shines through the intricate arrangement. “Karel and I initially jammed it and he wrote lines for the instrumental section, then we arranged the rest with Nikko on keyboard and Jonard on drums. We were able to record the rhythm section just a few weeks before the lockdown.” As a result, the new version conveys the timeless appeal of the original, while exuding a warmer approach in terms of production details.

Inspiring music video

The official release of Barbie Almalbis’ latest single comes with an accompanying music video that brings to light everyday stories of hope and love for the country amidst the global health crisis.

Interspersed with scenes of the new normal, the visuals for “Umagang Kay Ganda” also showcase the heroic deeds of our frontliners and several acts of compassion and resilience from ordinary Filipino folks.

Barbie adds, “Although some people consider music and visual arts as non-essentials these days, I’ve found that many are actually turning to the arts as a way of coping and feeling connected to others. We want to remind people of the real hope that we have and can hold on to, even as we confront the invisible enemy on a day to day basis. We’ll be able to stand above difficult situations and hurdle these atrocities with the gift of love and compassion.”

The music video is also part of Magnolia Dari Creme’s campaign reminding us that in extraordinary times as in the normal times, tomorrow always brings us new chances for a brighter day as long as we are with the ones we love.

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

 

Sponge Cola signs to Sony Music, releases new song “Lumipas Ang Tag-Araw”

Sponge Cola has officially signed to Sony Music—the record label that released their debut album, Palabas.

To mark this return, the award-winning band drops a new song entitled “Lumipas Ang Tag-araw,” out now on all digital platforms worldwide. 

Capturing the essence of a belated summer anthem in less than four minutes, Sponge Cola’s latest single soars into the fast lane with verses that turn romantic yearning into an inescapable sing-along, and a power pop surge that packs a ton of punch. 

Connection in separation

The captivating and relatable lyrics echo the collective frustration of not being with the people we deeply care about and love. But on the other side of the narrative, the song presents an opportunity to weather the insurmountable odds through perseverance and resilience to get through life—thanks to the support and kindness of friends and family. “It’s a story of connection in separation, and how we can be a source of comfort for each other during difficult times,” guitarist Armo Armovit adds.

Vocalist and guitarist Yael Yuzon fondly recalls the inspiration behind “Lumipas Ang Tag-araw” after driving his wife to work one morning under the new normal. He remembers becoming intensely emotional out of nowhere. “It was a strange feeling: a realization about everything that has or hasn’t happened since Covid-19, which yanked us away from our usual. And at that moment, this bright and happy melody just came to me, then some words and harmonies. When I got home, I fleshed everything out and recorded a demo within a few minutes. I guess I just needed to uplift myself, so I wrote something uplifting– something that doesn’t highlight the struggle everyone has been trying to deal with during the pandemic and the lockdown.” The creative and emotional surge led to writing the initial draft of “Lumipas Ang Tag-araw”—a love song that deals with the struggles of physical connection in the time of pandemic.

“Virtual” recording

The upbeat pop-rock tune is the first song that the band arranged and recorded in the comforts of their home, without being together in the same place. Armovit shares the challenging process that transpired during the preliminary stages of the recording. “We sent demos and voice memos to each other back and forth, tweaking parts, creating variations, until we all agreed on a final arrangement. Everyone then had to record their own parts at home and send it to a communal online drive for the producer, Angee Rozul, to bring everything together for the final track.”

Under normal circumstances, Sponge Cola would usually write the song, arrange it in a rehearsal space, and record it together in a studio. But due to the nationwide lockdown imposed in the previous months, the alternative rock quartet decided to use the time and resources available at their disposal to record individually at their own place. “There was a lot of self-editing because you’re not being policed by your bandmates or a producer constantly keeping tabs on possible mistakes or improvements, at least in person,” says Yael Yuzon. “It was all about laying in your parts when the song was passed on to you, and you had the responsibility to keep things right and easy for the next guy to add on to.”

Music video

According to Armovit, the lockdown-inspired music video of “Lumipas ang Tag-Araw” takes an intimate look into the fictional and real-life character’s personal worlds—their bedrooms, living spaces, confined homes—and the routine that they’re up to, in hopes of coping with the situation under quarantine. “It was also our first time working under special conditions, where we had to film all the scenes ourselves with our own phones and cameras. I’m very thankful for the help and guidance from King Palisoc, our director, and the creative ideas from his team.”

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

the vowels they orbit explores emotional intricacies on debut EP

Filipino indie pop-rock outfit the vowels they orbit has finally released their highly anticipated EP, ang unang ikot via Sony Music Philippines.

With songs that find strength in vulnerability, the band’s major label debut expounds on the complexities of young love from the perspective of someone who has gone through several missteps and recoveries in life.  

On a thematic standpoint, the lyrics shine a light on certain issues that people tend to avoid in regular conversations: the melancholic “Pasa” recalls a harrowing story of abuse; the light-hearted ditty “Selos” struggles to conceal jealousy no matter how hard the person tries; and then there’s “Kiliti,” a song about finding that perfect someone in an imperfect situation. The 5-track release offers home to fragile beings caught in the throes of love, hoping that they’ll learn from their previous mistakes and come out as better individuals after. 

According to the band, “all tracks were written in the context of love, but like every other song out there, they all go beyond the intention.” Patch Javier adds, “the latest EP tackles what most relationship journeys look like during [their] firsts.” 

ang unang ikot, is written, arranged and performed by the vowels they orbit, except for “Selos,” which was penned by Darwin Hernandez—the hitmaker behind chart-topping singles “Torete” and “Sandalan.” The album is produced by Rye Sarmiento, the guitarist of 6cyclemind and Banda Ni Kleggy.

About The Band

Signed to Sony Music Philippines, the vowels they orbit makes captivating pop-rock anthems laced with discernible hooks and strong melodic instincts. This is evident on their debut single “Selos,” which peaked at No. 2 on Spotify Philippines’ Viral 50 charts and No. 1 on Love Radio 90.7 Top 10.

The band, composed of Nikka Melchor (Vocals), Jeremy Sayas (Drums), Hannah Dela Cruz (Keyboard), Gene Santiago (Guitars) and Patch Javier (Bass), is managed by Soupstar Music—the home to several established and promising music acts such as 6cyclemind, Teeth, Imago, Sandwich, Pedicab, Moonstar88, Ultra Combo, Gracenote, Banda ni Kleggy, Better Days, the vowels they orbit, and Kurei.

the vowels they orbit’s debut EP, ang unang ikot, is now available on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines.

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

Ben&Ben portrays family drama on “Nakikinig Ka Ba Sa Akin” music video

Award-winning Filipino band Ben&Ben explores the complicated dynamics of a fictional family in the music video of “Nakikinig Ka Ba Sa Akin.” 

Revolving around a realistic depiction of a family on the verge of dysfunction, the narrative hits home with each member learning how to listen to each other, and speak their minds.

It also examines the flawed but beautiful relationships that we nurture within the family, and the decisions we make in extraordinary circumstances.

Helmed by “Pagtingin” music video director Jorel Lising, the intimate piece features ensemble acting performances by Agot Isidro, Bart Guingona, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, and Kelvin Miranda.

Lising’s compelling take on Ben&Ben’s massive hit has earned praises from various publications in the country. Renuel Fallore of MYX shares that the “cinematic music video couldn’t have come at a better time,” and reflects on its importance in today’s socio-political landscape. Bandwagon Asia, in its coverage of the song’s official tease a few months ago, took notice of the song’s evocative lyrics, which remind “people that COVID-19 remains to be the common enemy in this difficult time,” and therefore needs critical attention and vigilance.

As of July 14, Tuesday, the “Nakikinig Ka Ba Sa Akin” music video is currently trending on YouTube with more than 300,000 views in four days. 

On Spotify alone, Ben&Ben’s latest single has reached more than a million streams in its second week, making it one of the biggest releases of the month so far.  

“Nakikinig Ka Ba Sa Akin” is now out on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music.

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

We Got brims with tropical nostalgia on Raymund Marasigan-produced single “Ligaya”

Following the success of their debut single “Lihim Na Pagtingin,” eight-piece collective We Got returns with a follow-up that takes their reggae-infused sound to exciting new places.

Their second single “Ligaya,” a cover of The Eraserheads’ inescapable hit, captures the essence of the original, while redressing its vibe with fuller, brighter elements and a tropical makeover. 

Made more captivating with syncopated rhythms, groovy horns, and animated percussions, We Got’s version crests a euphoric wave of summer and nostalgia effortlessly without the need to go on an actual trip. 

“At first, we were just jamming it for fun but then, it turned out pretty good,” says vocalist and guitarist Mack de la Cruz. “So, we decided to be serious about covering the song—putting our signature We Got flavor. And there it is, a unique ‘Ligaya’ rendition. We’re very happy about how it turned out!”

After deciding to include the revamped version into their set list, the band decided to record their official version at Sunny Side Sound in Cubao, Quezon City, enlisting The Eraserheads drummer and Sandwich vocalist/guitarist Raymund Marasigan as the producer.

Marasigan has only positive words to describe his working relationship with We Got. “Working with them is like going to a family excursion at the beach especially when they bring delicious home cooked meals to pre-production and recording. And we worked on capturing that vibe.”

We Got’s “Ligaya” is now available on digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines.

Details and photo provided by Sony Music in a recent press release.