What is your ideal work routine? What does a good day look like? What activities help you get into the "flow"?
Getting into the right creative zone means being fully focused and setting aside the right amount of time and energy. After having tried writing in different states of mind, at different times of the day, I realise that it’s no use writing when I’m too tired or not mentally or emotionally present. Being able set aside 2 to 3 hours of uninterrupted creative time lets me get into the zone.
Before starting, I would remind myself why I write. That it’s not about making music that would appeal most to others. That I shouldn’t listen too intently to what I think potential critics would say to my music.
It’s when I’m paying attention to what I’m experiencing, riding a feeling, or focusing on the concept I’m trying to express through music that helps let my songwriting flow.
I was in a unique situation while writing my two singles ‘Thunder’, ‘Tulog Na’, and my upcoming EP ‘Somewhere-in-Between’. I was travelling a lot and learned to be ready to write anywhere - in my makeshift bedroom studio, on a train to another city, in different places from Manila, Paris, to Brussels. In this period getting into a fixed routine was difficult. But I learned to find my sweet spot where I could, making sure my gear was portable for wherever I went. Being in transit in these places became part of my experience and shaped some of my songwriting.
What does your space look like? How do you make it personal?
Songwriting is such a personal ritual for me where I really need to dig deep to unpack what I’m trying to express. As much as possible, setting up a private space or having a quiet place where there’s no one around to hear me or distract me lets me write more freely. Where I feel uninhibited and not conscious of anyone listening in while I experiment, sing out loud, or make weird noises. I also need to have my gear properly set up so I can easily switch from arranging on the midi, singing melodies, recording samples, and playing it back.
For days when you lack drive/motivation, how do you get unstuck?
It can get really tiresome listening to your own track day in day out, so oftentimes I’m always working on more than one song. I switch around activities when stuck - writing lyrics, jamming new chord arrangements, or trying out different melodies. When I’m working too long I need to do something completely different and just let my subconscious mesh ideas passively. I exercise, go for walks, find other distractions. Sometimes I replay the music that may have inspired a certain track, to remember the feeling I’m trying to recreate.
Songwriting is also a very collaborative process and working with other artists really helps enable my songwriting process. While I have an idea of how I want a song to sound, it becomes more real each time we add layer over layer. For my EP I was really lucky to be working with friends who I knew and trusted and are talented in their craft. Being able to trust and be comfortable with the people you work with is so important.
What is your biggest struggle right now?
I never realised how deeply rooted I was to home. Being in a new city, a different continent, facing cultural barriers, learning a new role - nearly every aspect of my current situation is completely out of my comfort zone. Of course I’m excited, always stimulated and learning new things. But as you follow the stages of culture shock (yes - a concept that exists and in fact explains a lot) it’s not always as romantic and upbeat as it may seem. As I constantly exert effort in everything I do, familiarising myself to a new city, nurturing my own community, the challenge is to make sure I can slow down, keep pace, and enjoy the journey.
What lesson did you learn recently that you would like to pass on to others?
The idea of planting seeds - how we must be patient with our efforts and that in time we will reap its benefits. That you don’t need to see results right away. That you’ve got to just keep doing, keep going, and it’ll make sense to you later on. That even as we undergo hardships we must aspire that we will eventually understand its reason for being and learn to frame it within our own sense of purpose.