Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get your start in music? When you did start making music? Who are some of your musical inspirations? What pulled you to create music? What are your goals as an artist? Tell us about your journey so far.

I am a pianist/composer, and I was born and raised in Long Beach, CA. I have played the piano since I was five, and today it’s crazy to say that I’ve played the piano for 20 years. Growing up, I remember I would find the sheet music for all types of music online – from video games to pop songs – and I would just sit at the piano and learn them for fun. Then, I would post covers of the songs on YouTube – with my most-watched video being at 93K views. Tracking back to the beginning though, there are a lot of musical genes in my family. My mom is a singer – and a lot of her siblings are also singers, and my dad was a musician. Whenever I would go to parties with my family, my dad would always tell me “bring your piano books just in case they have a piano there so you can play for everybody.” Surely enough, there would always be some type of way for me to play whatever pieces I was working on for our family and friends. I would take part in annual piano competitions with the Accordion Federation of North America, and it wasn’t until I would bring home First Prize in my categories each year that my parents realized I should pursue music. I’m grateful for my parents’ constant reminder to practice daily because if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. Today, I have my Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. I have accompanied multiple choirs at different schools and churches. I play for auditions and have conducted in orchestra pits for different musicals. I have been the Music Director for a couple of shows, and I have composed for both dance companies and cultural events. Every now and then, I will play keyboard in different jam sessions around LA. Currently, I am have released multiple singles on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, and I am currently working on a full LP! My musical inspirations come from the music I grew up listening to. My iPod library was so diverse that it could be anything from R&B to Classical to Jazz to anything that had sound. Babyface, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, New Edition, The Jackson 5, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, John Williams, Michael Giacchino, Yiruma, Lido. Music has saved my life countless of times and I couldn’t live without it. My goals as an artist are to one day get into Film Composition and also to perform in the orchestra pits on Broadway. I hope to produce music not just for me but for other artists and I also hope that my music can help those struggling with mental health issues.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment in your career so far? What are you most proud of?

I released my debut single, “Moon” back in October of 2018 and it was honestly scary because I have never released my original music to the public unless it was a piano instrumental and I didn’t know how people would react. My first single ended up getting placed on an official Spotify playlist and is almost at 30,000 streams. I know that not too many people release their first single and get that much support with not even having a fan base so I have definitely been blessed and I can’t wait to share what else is in store to the world.

What have been some of the toughest things you’ve had to overcome as a musician/artist? 

There has definitely been a fair amount of struggles. I was a premature baby born at six months. I only weighed 1 lb. and 18 oz. My parents didn’t think that I was going to make it, and they said I had to stay in the NICU for three months with a respiratory system hooked to my body. When I got home, they said a therapist would always come to make sure that I was developing well. My mom said I would never talk; if the therapist would ask me something like “Where’s the square?” I would just point to it but not say a word. As a kid, when I would always have to practice piano, there were definitely times where I wanted to quit lessons because I would be stressed out from practicing for a competition or I just wanted to go out and play with other kids or play video games. There was even a time where I was taking piano lessons from 2 separate teachers in one day. I know that if I quit lessons as a kid and gave up then, I would never have accomplished all the things I have done today. When it came to decide what I wanted to do after I graduated high school, I actually doubted if I wanted to do music as my career. I knew that it was a risky move and especially as a Filipino-American, a lot of Filipinos end up being nurses, engineers, or anything that’s not in the arts. I was scared at the time, so I tried to major in Accounting because my sister told me that it was stable. After about a year of taking business classes, I realized that it wasn’t for me. I switched to music and made one of the best decisions of my life. I think that as a Filipino-American, it was also scary to pursue music as a career because you don’t see many Asian-Americans in the music industry nor support for Asian-Americans in the arts. It’s also why I always try to support all of my other friends pursuing the arts in whatever shows they are in or what they hold because I know what it’s like to prepare for a show and not have as much support as you wish you had. Growing up, I was able to see some of my musical inspirations that looked like me on YouTube doing the same thing that I was trying to do – artists like AJ Rafael, Jeremy Passion, Gabe Bondoc. It was so inspiring to see other Filipino-Americans who were also playing the piano and composing songs that it pushed me to know that I could also be successful in music. Now I hope, one day, to also be a leader in the arts representing Filipino-Americans. Seeing where I am now, I know God gave me the chance to live; I know that I have a purpose, and that it is music.

Can you describe your process of making music? Do you start with lyrics? melody? a sample? 

It’s different all the time for me. Sometimes I’ll start with random lyrics and then write a melody to them, other times since I’m primarily a pianist, I’ll compose melodies at the piano and then make lyrics to them once it’s more solidified.

What are you working on now? Do you have a specific project you’ve just released that you’d like us to share? 

I am currently working on my first LP which has been delayed a bit due to COVID, but I have just released my newest single, “Just Fine” with Emilee Estoya which you can find on all streaming platforms!

How has your participation in the Indie Artists’ Studio classes or working with Jessica helped in your journey?

Working with Jessica has been amazing because I’m primarily a pianist and I have always been too shy to sing in public. During my time with Jessica, I did my first singing gig, and I released a single with my voice on it. She has definitely helped me become more confident in both my voice and my music.

What is a piece of advice you’d give to other Independent Artists like yourself?

Never let anybody tell you that you can’t pursue art as a career.

Who would be your dream collaboration?

NIKI, UMI, Boyz II Men, Justin Timberlake

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