Paul Pablo: “I want people to recognize and appreciate me because I make great music and that I take my craft seriously, not because I’m openly gay.”
The chameleon pop and soul artist opens up to us about making it in the national music scene and his exciting ride in making his dreams come true.
How has your journey been, from being independent to becoming part of Warner Music Philippines?
Paul Pablo: My journey has been incredible so far ‘coz I believe that I’ve been working with the right people, and these people believe in me, and we all have a bigger purpose and a bigger reason why we do all of these things. It’s really not just about getting me famous or getting me known by a lot of people–it’s more like really doing great stuff for Visayas and Mindanao–representing both regions to the next level by what I’m doing–my videos, assets, my music. It’s been challenging, but at the same time, very motivating.
READ MORE: An Interview with Paul Pablo
Has your songwriting changed? Do you have to adhere to standards that your producers and label have set?
Paul Pablo: It’s a good thing that my songwriting changed in a way that I became more fearless about what I wanted to say. I became braver when it came to exposing my truth, my reality as a gay person. I’m no longer afraid to expose my experiences through my music ‘coz I believe that’s the best way for people to relate and resonate with me.
When it comes to producers and labels, it’s not like adhering to standards ‘coz we set our own standards in our craft, but it’s more of like aiming to step up our process. We reach out to people outside the Philippines, like La-based multi-awarded music producer Jorel Corpus. He wants to contribute to OPM, so he’s helping us. I’ve also worked with Filipino-Dutch producer Xerxes Bakker. He believed in my music and wants me to be one of those artists to step up when it came to mixing, mastering, and the technical stuff as a whole.
The whole experience is nice, especially since Jhay Ehidio, one of my usual producers, is also Bisaya and is from Davao. Working with people outside the Philippines means that we gain a lot of knowledge and experiences from them and apply them here in the Philippines. That means we’re improving the music and production and setting them to higher international standards. It’s a way for us to improve and step up our craft.
What’s your favorite gig so far?
Paul Pablo: My favorite gigs so far were the pride month gigs. Both were unpaid, but being able to perform in front of my community is such an honor. There were around 26,000 people during the QC pride event, and I also performed in the Pasay pride after that. Both gigs were life-changing ‘coz it was my first time performing there. I felt a connection with my community, which was very memorable, so even though I performed there for free, it was my favorite gig.
Is there anything weird or strange that you’ve experienced now that you’re a certified pop artist, like with a fan or non-fan, that you’d like to share?
Paul Pablo: I don’t really have weird experiences, but I’ve had surprising ones that I can share, like when I go out. I get surprised when people recognize me. So this one time, I bought food via drive-thru, and the person who served my orders knew who I was. he told me that he listens to my song and that he supports me.
Also recently, when I went to Cebu for the Sinulog festival, I was walking in the mall with my companions, and three people took pictures with me, and they recognized me as Paul Pablo.
That’s really something; it means a lot because it’s a sign that what I have been doing since I started was already working, and I’m hoping that people will continue to recognize me because my music is good. I’m not clout-chasing or anything ‘coz that’s not really my goal. But you know, people knowing me as Paul Pablo, the pop artist, is really fulfilling.
Are there any artists that you want to collaborate with in the future?
Paul Pablo: Right now, I wanna focus on defining my music and really exploring what I can do with it as a solo artist, so I’m currently not thinking about collaborations yet, but of course, internationally, there are a lot of artists that I wanna collab with, but I’m not yet there. I still have to conquer a lot of things before we get there.
How significant is it to represent the LGBTQ+A community in your music and your other work?
Paul Pablo: I think that it’s significant that I represent the LGBT community, especially in music, because it’s limited right now, although it’s a great thing that there are already a lot of gay reality shows and a lot of people have explored the BL genre, and gay comedians being highlighted, but the LGBT representation in music are very few. LGBT in music is still something new to most people.
Despite that, I want my story to focus more on music. I want people to recognize and appreciate me because I make great music and that I take my craft seriously, and not because I’m gay. I want people to like and support me because they think I have great songs and they relate to them, and not just because I’m openly gay.
I believe that gay people are not different from straight artists–that we’re rock stars in our own right, regardless of gender. That’s the mindset that I wanna impart to people, so I want my identity to be exposed; that I’m openly gay, but at the same time, I don’t want it to be the highlight of my career–that I’m special ‘coz I’m gay. I don’t want it to be a deal that “yeah, he’s gay,” and what’s new with that? I want people to be talking about my music ‘coz it’s new, it’s fresh, and not because I’m gay, and that I have great songs. I hope that in the future, that’s what people think about me and my craft. That’s my goal.
Please talk about your new single.
My new single is called “Sagi.” It’s a song about one-sided love and about my experiences. I’ve been through relationships where I relied on the person to fight for me and could be proud of me to show to the world, but sadly, that’s not what happened. Everything was just like “what ifs”–what if he fought for our relationship, what if we exposed it and became proud of us. It’s hard ‘coz I know that the person had feeling for me, it was just that he was afraid. Hence, I would always wonder about what could have happened if he had fought for us and if he was ready for our relationship. And if he had fears, just let me know what you want to happen, ‘coz I love you–charing–so that’s really the inspiration behind “Sagi.”
I wrote “Sagi” because I know a lot of people can relate to it. I know that a lot of Filipinos are looking for songs like that, and I acknowledge the need for artists to tell stories that they can relate to and that can become their anthem.
What’s in store for you in the future? What can your fans look forward to in your music?
I hope the fans will look forward to my future releases this year. I’ll be releasing my first ever EP; I can’t announce when I’ll release it; I can’t also tell you the title, but my fans can expect a new single, plus three music festival performances to watch out for. I also hope to perform in Davao soon and connect with more Bisaya fans and get their support because I’m doing this for them. TPB