There’s an old catchphrase that says “love is sweeter the second time around,” and in the case of singer-songwriter and all around personality Maris Racal, it’s the love and passion for all things music that is making the year very, very exciting.
And with the release of her latest single “Ate Sandali” – a infectious power-pop ditty which can only be described as a radical departure from her early attempts in music, years prior – Racal revealed that the journey to get to the present has been a long, colorful one that stems from her formative years.
“I grew up pretty much surrounded by music, and my exposure comes from everywhere – from my parents listening to essential tunes varying from The Beatles to James Taylor, and my brother and sister, who would further influence my tastes and preference in more current music at the time,” she shares. “I remember how much I admired my brother – who was in a band at the time – as I’d watch him write original songs. It was very amazing to me,” she reveals on her official song bio.
In a recently held presscon One Music PH was fortunate enough to attend, she bared that the song was inspired by her and her sister's respective love lives, which weren't doing well during that time.
At the time, brokenhearted kami ng ate ko. Hindi ata siya aware sa story na ’to but she was one of my inspirations. Sunud-sunod rin talaga ‘yung bad decisions,” she bared.
“["Ate Sandali" is] sort of empowering. Masasabi kong [about] women empowerment siya—friendly advice sa lahat ng girls who are in a relationship na medyo toxic,” Maris says. “It’s not about hating men. Reminder lang siya sa mga babae na they’re beautiful and they can end a relationship. Para ’to sa mga girls na marurupok. At the time, ‘yun talaga ‘yung description ko sa akin at sa ate ko. Pinapalakas ko ‘yung loob nila sa song na ’to.”
Of course, her musical path did experience many twists and turns, as she did find herself on a slightly more different trajectory as an actress and online personality. Though the experience did ultimately afford her a preliminary exposure and first-attempt in music, it seemed that the proverbial stars were not quite aligned at-first… until she would find herself working with balcony Entertainment CEO Rico Blanco.
“After the first time we met and worked-together on a song, Maris asked me my opinion of her songs, so she literally got a guitar and sang me her songs on-the-spot, and I was surprised that there were a LOT,” reveals the acclaimed singer/songwriter producer on "Ate Sandali's" official bio. “So naturally, I wondered why she never had a proper music career – I was blown away at how she had an entire collection of songs she had written herself on both guitar and piano.”
Though her first foray of singles released via Balcony Entertainment was slowed-down a tad due to the pandemic, Racal’s excitement for music was still at an all-time high, fueled by absorbing newer, more current pop-sounding musical styles in the form of Lady Gaga, K-Pop and being exposed to friends’ tastes and online platforms like Tiktok and the like. It would have a great impact on how she viewed music, and on the newer batch of music she would be working on.
“‘Yung mismong song matagal ko na siyang nasulat, as in super tagal na," Maris says during the presscon. "And then hindi ko siya natuunan ng pansin (for a long time), as in nasa notebook ko lang siya. Kasi at that time, to be specific, the last few years parang hindi ko siya type at all. Kasi ang gusting is yung classic songs, pina-driven, acoustic so hindi ko siya type. But then last year pandemic happened and then one of the few things that saved me was K-pop, Lady Gaga, music ni Ariana Grande, the music videos, parang nadadala ako sa ibang mundo. Kasi parang ang past life natin before pandemic ansaya-saya so, like, December 2020 siguro, naisip ko ‘Why not maglabas ako ng ganung kind of sound?’ Ganung kind of music kasi I believe I can do it and there’s this song na nasulat ko na dati that’s so perfect for that category. So ayun, ‘yun ang story ng pagkasulat ko ng song and paglabas as well.”
“There’s a natural curiosity songwriters have, as to what makes a song great – what makes people relate-to and enjoy a certain song and sound,” reveals Maris on the official bio, when asked about her newfound penchant for catchy, upbeat pop as evident on her latest single, “Ate Sandali.” “It intrigued me to the point where I was challenged to create something in that musical style and vein – and it made total sense to release music like this now, since it would be really weird to release similar music when I’m older. Now is the perfect time to do so.”
When asked about her shift to Blacony Entertainment, Maris said during the presscon, “That time kasi, matagal ko nang gusting makipag-collab kay Rico. And at that time, tapos na din ang contract ko with my last label, and then I wanted to grow as well kasi gusto ko na ding maka-work ng other people sa studio and I really believed that people like Rico, madaming matuitulong sa akin in terms of music, and you know, choices sa music, na hindi lang ako limited sa sarili ko. Tapos so far, andami ko ding natutunan, grabe.”
Produced by Blanco himself, the single’s electronic-pop sound is - in every sense of the phrase – infectious-as-hell. No stranger to hit singles and various styles of music (having re-invented himself through the years as an artist…), Blanco minces no words when it comes to praise for Maris.
“With Maris’ new single ‘Ate Sandali,’ it’s definitely her own take on current music but in a way that is respectful – especially to the foundation of all great pop music from the past [from classic artists],” he shares on the official bio, and adds, “Pop music is an art, and there’s definitely a right way to do it, and we hear it with Maris’ songs. It’s very exciting for us.”
The first track off of an upcoming mini-album, “Ate Sandali” is now out on all digital streaming platforms. She's also proud of the official music video. “Sa music video nag-decide ako ng colorful, bago yun para sa ‘kin. Kasi literally the last one I had which was ‘Not for Me’ ang title was black and white. So gusto kong maiba talaga. So gusto ko ng colorful, I wanna wear modern Filipiniana…”