“I performed while doing school. I did it for two years – during my sophomore and junior years.”
“I would spend the whole day at school, just like any other student, and then in the evening I would head out to perform. I had sets at The Manor, Bohemian, Giligan’s, The Other Office, Barn Café, Concoctions, Nostalgia, 18BC Music Lounge. But I had to stop performing to focus on my studies. I’m in the fourth year now. I’m studying Environment and Sanitary Engineering. It’s a five-year program so I guess I’m almost there.”
“I’m planning on pursuing a career in music after I finish my degree. Or maybe not. I might pursue a career in environmental or sanitary engineering. Music or engineering – it’s all cool.”
“My dad is my major influence. He would let me and my sister sing an Olivia Newton-John hit or an Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, like Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. That’s why I sing mostly classics. I would love to explore jazz – the intricate chords, the genuine connection it generates, the distinct sound – they challenge me, and I love that.”
“I have always viewed music as an art of expression. People describe me as shy, but they would always be surprised whenever I sing – you wouldn’t find any trace of introversion in me.”
Is there a pop artist or a rockstar that inspires you?
“I like Paramore and Up Dharma Down. I also admire Beyoncé because she sings and dances.”
Do you dance?
“I did – back in high school. I danced hip-hop and contemporary. But I guess I love singing more.”
Music seems to be a major element in your life. Why?
“It is. It’s my way of saying things I couldn’t otherwise articulate – you know, the power that comes from just singing, letting it out. It’s wonderfully cathartic. It liberates you and it heals you. It just transforms everything. It’s one of the biggest gifts given to man, and we should maximize it and use it well.”
When was the last time something hit you really hard?
“I recently lost a very close friend. We often performed together at events. I would call him to come over and play with me and he would always show up – he was always ready. Music was everything to him. During his funeral, the bad blood between the bands he played with just dissipated, like smoke. Guess he played angel this time.”
Minutes after the interview, Karen came back and asked if the following could be included in her story. She penned the following herself:
“I knew I was already singing inside my mother’s womb, accompanied by my dad’s guitar… I can’t count how many times I hit the stage, held the microphone, strummed the guitar or grooved to a hip-hop remix. All I can remember is that there were millions of endorphins from those ecstatic moments. It was magical – like wonderland. But at the end of it all, it’s all about how much heart you put into your performances that matters.”
Photo by RENE PASCUA
Interview & Text by RONA LIN