More-often-than-not, the most brilliant and celebrated artists are those who are not only able to change the game when it comes to their craft, but they are also few-and-far-between characters who have the unique ability to roll with the punches, take everything in stride and have the rare knack to thrive under any amount of adversity.
And Jensen Gomez is about to prove that he is, indeed, made of the right stuff.
After what seems an eternity of regrouping and rediscovering his true north - both musically and in his personal life – the 30-year-old singer/songwriter is finally ready to get back in the game and take hold of his rejuvenated passion for life and music with his new single “No Sides” as the lead single for the first volume of his upcoming full-length Phases.
Simply put, it is vintage Jensen at his finest and most mature yet: a well-calculated, slow-and-steady tune that has that characteristic smooth and chill vibe that no one else can deliver, “No Sides” – despite oozing with the trademark sonic smoothness, is actually an anthemic-battle cry of sorts for the singer-songwriter. According to Jensen in the official write-up issued by his label Off the Record: “It all started-out as a sample, then I just kept adding to it… beats and all. Then lyrically, it sort of became my personal love story with music: it’s all sides open, no more hiding – no use being shy anymore – I’m just here to do what I do.”
Phases Vol. 1 begins with "I'm Scared" where Jensen confesses his doubts and insecurities, then follows it with the aforementioned "No Sides" down to the final track where he finally comes to get a "Grip" of what's important to him personally. In the middle of it all, "No Sides" is the one that stands out the most. This superbly written pop-soul single is truly a heartfelt song of somebody who's ready to break the walls of the past.
And this exercise in rediscovery is such an interesting one...
“During the pandemic, I went back to my old house, converted my childhood room in Cavite to a studio, and this is where I basically took the first few steps of my journey into finding myself again,” Gomez shares, when asked how he arrived at his current state, coming from all sorts of [mis]adventures the previous years. “It took a while – I ended relationships, avoided certain people and things, started new relationships and I just kept writing during that entire time – as an exercise, and occasionally working on film scores and well… now I’m back!” he smiles.
And for fans who have followed Jensen throughout the years in whatever incarnation he was involved with musically, it is an easy guess that this is simply just the beginning. “No sides” - as mentioned - is part of a bigger picture: to be released as the lead single of the first of four volumes that will make a full-length album called Phases, slated for a November 21st release. The first three volumes will be made-up of three songs each, [released with a respective lead single for each], and Volume 4 is slated to be the culmination of all the previously released singles, with an additional seven new tracks and additional skits from his podcast and campaigns all throughout, totaling a whopping 25 tracks. Truly, this simply isn’t just any release, but is – in itself – an entire experience - exciting news for both longtime and newer fans - and most notably - quite a feat in this day and age of music, where everything is all about one, singular moment.
“I can’t stop at just writing singles,” Gomez starts to share when asked about the proverbial bigger picture. “I find that I really need time to tell the whole story – MY story. “No Sides” without a doubt, is just the beginning, and everything is exciting for me again, because I wrote these songs from that honest side of me; it’s such a reinvigorating feeling to be able to do that again… but I guess I can say I’m a lot more comfortable now with how to maneuver my way around this whole thing. It’s fun again.”
One Music PH: Can you please tell us about your new single “No Sides” and what were these “walls” that you were alluding to on this song?
Jensen: Well, yung inspiration dun sa song, it started out as a love song, but it ended up as my love song to my music career in a way. Kung nakita mo yung music video parang nandun ang (Jensen & The) Flips, nandun yung Umpisa (his 2013 debut album), then Jensen, then Memphiis time, leading up to now na the older version of myself, the mature guy, I think, I would like to think so. Yun yung walls na this time around, there are no more walls to hide behind, na kahit unsteady yung buong relationship ko with music, that I’m still here and I’m still game to play, and I’m still creating.
One Music PH: How did the pandemic affect you as far as the music and the urge to create goes? Did it discourage you for a bit?
Jensen: It did. I went on this journey na life after Flips na parang kasi nag-behind the scenes din ako, I did work for iWant. Tapos nung time na yun parang…Well, hindi naman naumay, pero parang yung projects kasi corporate na may mga deadline and I also did jingles, so I wanted to create something for myself ulit. So I started practicing writing para ‘di ko makalimutang magsulat, mag-create ng music. Pero nung pandemic, medyo nakaka-discourage siya, but the thing that was constant was I’m creating different things with my hands, na parang I started cooking, then gumawa ako ng mga DIY stuff, gumawa ako ng lamesa ko. Gumawa ako ng basketball court, so mga ganun. Nung nakuha ko yung handle ng mga ganung bagay, na I realized I can still create, that’s when I started writing (again) and creating ditto sa studio sa bahay, to create the album as an exercise and apparently yun, it turned out…Alam mo yung nagsimula kang magsulat tapos tuluy-tuloy na siya. So dumami yung songs bigla, parang ‘Okay, album na siguro ‘to…’
One Music PH: Can you please describe the different phases this album will go through?
Jensen: Yung first volumes is all about the songs that I wrote for myself. It’s more of a self-conversation na parang you’re trying to govern yourself that ‘You’re okay, you’re still doing this…’ Very reflective. The 2nd volume will be out on September 3, it’s more of my producer side, my producer phase siguro. And then the 3rd volume will be sort of a Flips phase in a way. And then the final volume na kumpleto na siya, there’s going to be a surprise tied with it.
One Music PH: What did you learn about yourself in the process of making this album?
Jensen: I live by a couple of things. One is that the only thing you can control in life is the effort we put into things. Kasi everything else naman, ‘di mo na call yun, just the effort. So I put in the work. Nag-aral akong mag-piano (laughs), nag-aral akong mag-produce. The other thing is everything else is just noise. Parang I sort of zoned in with what I’m doing, medyo nag-focus lang na kasi yun din eh, yung feeling of being secluded ‘cause of the pandemic so nahanap ko yung sarili ko and what’s really important to me. It’s me creating and sharing stuff and making music.
One Music PH: So now that you’re with Off the Record also doing work as an A & R, how does it feel like having to look after not just your own career, but of younger acts as well? How does it feel trying to get the hang of the job and the responsibilities that come with it?
Jensen: Masaya siya and challenging kasi iba-iba yung alaga. First time ko magkaroon ng alaga. Exciting siya kasi iba-iba ang attack mo with the artists that you handle. Iba-iba din yung music that they put out and ako yung A & R, so minsan ako din ang magpo-produce ng tracks for them so yun ang nangyayari. But when it comes to mentoring kasi, younger artists I’ve always done that sa sharing, ‘pag may nakakausap akong mga bata sa gigs. I also did a couple of talks, I did some talks on songwriting sa ibang schools. May ganun naman akong side tapos, wala kasi akong ganun nung bata pa ko. Parang I really wanted to share, ang suwerte ko kasi si Boss Ricky (Ilacad), he’s like that also, he likes to share his knowledge, ‘di siya madamot and also, like, the other friends, the others na mas senior sa ‘kin like si Kiko Francis Brew) Reyes of The Dawn, ‘di sila madamot. So parang pay it forward sa mga next generation of artists.
One Music PH: Do you find it weird talking about ‘kids’ now (laughs)?
Jensen: (Laughs) Sobrang totoo. Pero, wala eh, as in dun din talaga tayo papunta eh. I’ve been playing music for 13 years, so talagang kids na sila, mga 21, 22 (years old). Makikita mo sarili mo eh, kung gaano katigas ulo mo dati.
One Music PH: What I’ve noticed with ‘No Sides’ is that with the production and the beats, it doesn’t sound like a ‘band’ arrangement anymore, is this something that’s going to be prevalent for the rest of the album?
Jensen: By default, magiging ganun yung tunog ng album. Pero mag-iiba-iba pa din ang tunog since narrative siya and in different phases, there’ll be singer-songwriter stuff, there’ll be Flips-ish sound, there’ll be some electronic-sounding stuff, tapos I also did a track with Brass Pas Pas (Pas Pas). Nag-record sila ng live, so yun lang ata yung live na full band ng album. Yung sound, with ‘No Sides’ kasi, it was a conscious effort to make it sound like Boracay 2005 nung ginagawa ko yung track kasi nasa pandemic ka ‘di ka makalabas ng bahay, so closest thing that you can feel that you’re outside is to make music that’s gonna feel like it.
One Music PH: So what are the new musical influences that you have picked up most recently?
Jensen: More of producers. Nag-avail ako ng Master Class ni Timbaland. Tapos nag-aral ako sa YouTube University of Production (laughs). With music naman, mga singer-songwriters pa rin, like sina John Mayer pa rin, the new stuff I’m looking forward to that. Then yung mga neo-soul nab ago, like sina Sebastian Mikael, sila Lucky Day. Andaming mga bago na neo-soul na mas…’Di na rin siya neo-soul eh, parang organic Frank Ocean ang tawag ko sa kanila, so parang ganun. Andami talagang bagong magagaling ngayon so I always subscribe to Discover Weekly (Spotify) din, ganun din.
One Music PH: I don’t know if this is true, but I get this vibe that somewhere along the way, you might have lost the fun or enthusiasm out of the music and that you may have recovered it all making this album…
Jensen: Nawala siya ‘cause everyone knows why, everyone knows what happened. So I got afraid of putting myself out there again, like, musically, that’s the reason why I did behind-the-scenes projects that I had. Parang transformative for me yung buong experience ‘cause I had to find myself, to reignite the passion again for writing. Pero kasi nung time nay un na hindi din ako okay, the only thing that was constant was music, like I still listen to it, I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t last a day without touching my guitar. Nahanap ko yung meaning siguro, parang ganun, yung totoong drive. And the drive is I just want to be able to create constantly. Nung nahanap ko yung drive na yun, kasi siyempre with the Flips, naging clouded siya, nagging work eh. So nung nahanap ko yung nreason why I keep doing this, nabalik ko siya dahan-dahan. It was a long process, it took me a couple of years to create something I’m happy with.