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MANILA, Philippines – Singer-songwriter Jose Miguel grew up listening to jazz on repeat. It was his grandfather who exposed him to the fine world of jazz – regularly putting on the harmonious rhythms of big band jazz, and the unforgettable music of prominent soloists like Frank Sinatra.
His affinity for jazz only grew as the years went by, so when he began to make music of his own, it was only right that he do it in the very genre that raised him.
Now a soloist who is slowly beginning to make his mark in the local music scene, Jose Miguel has made it his life’s mission to serenade listeners with his heavenly baritone vocals backed by old-fashioned instrumentals.
He fuses the modern and the nostalgic together through his sound, as he sings about today’s generation’s woes in the smooth low register that any older listener would find a sense of familiarity in. After all, for Jose Miguel, music knows no age.
“A lot of people usually say, ‘Oh, you sound like you’re a little bit older,’ or ‘I thought you would be a certain age.’ But I think music has no age. Really, if you like it, you like it. If it appeals to you, then stick by it. I love the music that I make, and I’m lucky enough to be able to say that,” he said.
From poems to full-fledged songs
Staying true to his word, the musician based south of Metro Manila just released his first album, 5 Star Overthinker – a 10-track record that was six months in the making. The album was born out of a mix of different contexts and experiences, from the background of each song to the way the music was even created in the first place.
Many of Jose Miguel’s songs actually start out as poems that are later paired with the melodies he comes up with sporadically, so it comes as no surprise that his songs paint a profound picture of whatever stories they tell.
For instance, in the track “Love is You,” the singer sets the scene for the split-moment decision an individual decides to take a chance on love before it’s too late.
“Originally, it was about a man and a woman on a train. They never really met. But this person, the man looked at her and said, ‘What if it was her? What if there was a chance for that stranger to be the one?’ I wrote the story of that mixed in with a lot of different inspirations as well,” Jose Miguel explained.
Other times, however, the culmination of a song happens almost naturally within the blink of an eye. This was the case for the title track “5 Star Overthinker.” Jose Miguel had just been relaxing outdoors with his producer Gabe, surrounded by nature, when an idea for a poem arose.
“I had a poem written and Gabe just started playing the music. The rest was a flow state. It all just came out. And in about an hour or so, we were able to finish writing ‘5 Star Overthinker,’” he shared.
While Jose Miguel’s songwriting techniques vary from time to time, there’s one thing that has always remained the same: his desire to share his craft with listeners, and leave a lasting impact on them in the process.
The new age of jazz
“I hope that people can resonate with the writing and the melodies that [I put] out. I just want to write music. I just want to be able to sing the music that I love and share it with everybody. That’s really why I’m doing this….there’s no other kick or feeling like being able to perform and write music,” Jose Miguel said.
Fittingly, the young artist is also set to take center stage at the Wanderland Festival in March, and he promises to deliver “a lot of flavor” in his performance.
As jazz begins to find a home in younger audiences’ playlists, Jose Miguel remains confident that the genre will live on across all age groups.
“I think jazz is coming back. Not that it ever left. I just think that it’s entering the pop scene once again, with the artists that are getting recognition today,” the young crooner said, citing Icelandic-Chinese singer-songwriter Laufey as an example.
With the new age of jazz, Jose Miguel is definitely here to stay – and he has his many music idols to thank for that.
“I’m always going to look up to the ones who did it before me in terms of influence, my inspirations. And honestly, I believe that I am maybe a combination of a lot of my idols. I’m just putting a new spin into it [in my music],” he shared. – Rappler.com