Monday, April 22, 2024

HappeningPH OPM Alert! Award-Winning Nicole Laurel Asensio Launches MATTER OVER MIND on Jan 30 at OPM Haven 19 East

HappeningPH OPM Alert! Award-Winning Nicole Laurel Asensio Launches MATTER OVER MIND on Jan 30 at OPM Haven 19 East

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Multi-talented, multi-awarded, and multi-hyphenated artist, singer/composer Nicole Laurel Asensio is all set to launch MATTER OVER MIND, a musical concoction comprised of three vibrant original compositions that seep into the consciousness of a wandering psyche aching for atonement and acceptance. 

The launch date is on January 26, 2024 on all listening platforms. The launch event will be on January 30, 2024, at 19 East located on East Service Road. With a special guest performance by ang Bagong Luto ni Enriquez and Iwi Laurel. Entrance is 500 pesos. 

“Turning your scars into stars”

The EP title MATTER OVER MIND is a play on the popular saying “mind over matter”—the reversal of the words connotes that keeping one’s head up through the struggles is often easier said than done, and sometimes we need to come undone and be honest with how we feel before picking up the pieces and moving on.

“As we are blessed with a brand-new year, I am reminded of what it took to get to this point, the hardships, failures, and finding the guts to keep going,’’ explains Nicole Laurel Asensio.

Thematically, MATTER OVER MIND also celebrates the resilience of human souls that have experienced hurt, God’s grace and the metamorphosis of “turning one’s scars into stars.” 

The concoction’s three main ingredients

The EP opens with “Comprehend,” a silky Neo-soul influenced tune with traces of modern and classic rhythm and blues. It is written from the point of view of rewatching your life as a movie and seeing how each character leaves or lingers through the seasons. The lyrical expressions and play on words are both poignant and poetic as they unfold the multi-layered process of healing from failed relationships.

Although the lyrics might be bittersweet, most of the nectar is in the smooth arrangement that features thick vocal sections and an all-saxophone section over a vibey beat.

“Vibecheck” is a sonic palette cleanser, a short and sweet reminder to check up on your loved ones. The chords and melody willingly settle in a cradle of gospel influences. Sung by Nicole Asensio, Kevin Yadao, and Gabe Dandan, the short in-betweener is reminiscent of friends touching base and reminding each other not to worry because everything will eventually work out. 

To complete the concoction, “Get it Right” is an English-Tagalog uptempo track that evokes funk, soul, and jazz influences within its intricacies. Effervescent and light as it may be at first listen, it is also equally full-bodied as it sings of hidden tears and silent struggles hidden behind laughter and the longing to redeem oneself.

The instrumentation is quite the indulgent thrill featuring a full live brass section, soulful piano, and Rhodes licks, a bouncy backbeat, and a plush vocal section.

Creations, sensations, and sensibilities

Nicole Asensio and Gabe Dandan’s writing tandem has proven prolific as this collection of tracks were all born out of impromptu jams caught on record.

This collection of songs all began with impromptu jams. Nicole, me, and our drummer Nigel Norris, who is currently in Europe had the influences of artists we admire like Steely Dan, Robert Glasper, and Erykah Badu set the tone for the initial jam session. We recorded the outcome in South Bay Studio and Nicole developed her top-line ideas into lyrics and melodies, and later recorded her vocals with the help of recording engineer Mikel Miller,” Gabe dandan recalls.

“The arrangement blossomed as we would revisit each track daily and see what we could add or subtract. Because the chordal structure has its quirks and complexities, it was important to pay attention to detail. Renowned saxophone player Michael Guevarra did the horns arrangement for ‘Get it Right’ and I did an impromptu arrangement alongside saxophone player Joeffrey Pangilinan for ‘Comprehend.’ ‘Vibecheck’ was written in less than an hour. Nicole then sent it to our friend Kevin Yadao for additional vocals,” adds Gabe.

“The vocal arrangements were done in spare minutes between the busy gig season and late night production sessions. Gabe and I both agreed to give the harmonies unique colours to add a dose of something different in what may at first seem familiar sonically,” Nicole interjects.

Gabe continues, “Mixing and Mastering the EP was for me the most meticulous part, I really felt that this EP was closer to my heart than many projects I have had the pleasure of producing, so I wanted to mix and master it myself, even if I am new to the craft. Nicole trusted me and obliged, she was also there for every step and adjustment, I think we work well together, not just as cowriters, but for the entire production and post-production process.” 

“For a number of years now, my musical inclination has been a blend of old and new, classic and current. I feel that sticking to one kind of sound or genre isn’t really for me, I like to create what feels right at that moment in time and in that particular frame of mind while still leaving something familiar, perhaps in the vocal interpretation and inflections,” explains Nicole.

“And, I feel like Gabe has similar sensibilities. Like Gabe, my favourite thrill is also creating songs from impromptu jams; this to me is priceless, the amalgamation of time, place, emotion and taste coming together,” gushes Nicole. 

To which Gabe remarks, “Timelessness is more appealing to me than trends, it is an exciting process to see how we can make our own version of the music we grew up liking. Traces of funk, Neo-soul, RnB, jazz, and gospel are evident throughout the songs, but perhaps what makes its flavour unique is savouring the thematic choices and nuances that unfold with each tune.”

“This year I feel like a lot of pent up songs and stories need to be told, while the inspiration is at a fever pitch, it’s important to express, produce, create and grow from each artistic pursuit. I am looking forward to releasing more songs, perhaps in ‘suites’ of two, three, or more songs at a time to explore more themes,” Nicole envisions the future.

“God willing, there will be a full album to look forward to in the coming months, too. Till then, I am grateful for every tidbit of music that comes my way, I greatly appreciate every person that lends their ears to the stories we tell and will continue to create for as long as I can,” Nicole adds overflowing with gratitude.

“Yes! A full album!,” exclaimed Gabe. “One thing I look forward to is how these songs are built from on-the-spot writing; it is an exercise in keeping an open mind and being adaptable to where the process takes you.”

He continues, “We wrote a number of songs inside the recording studios, and it is perhaps an unusual process, but one we both have learned to embrace. Surprising ourselves and others with the musical fruit of impromptu sessions. I am grateful to scratch the surface of possibilities with MATTER OVER MIND and looking forward to the flow of creativity to come.”