“Fall for You,” the piano-driven, pop-rock ballad by Secondhand Serenade, was one of those hard-to-escape hits of 2008. It helped John Vesely—the musician behind the American band—attract a sizeable following in the Philippines that remains loyal to him to this day.
In fact, according to his profile on Spotify, Quezon City and San Juan City are two of the top five cities where most of his listeners come from.
“The Philippines has always been one of my biggest markets. I never thought I would have such an amazing fan base overseas. And I feel blessed and grateful for having their support over the years; they have been a very big part of my journey as a musician,” he told the Inquirer in a phone interview arranged by MCA Music Philippines.
Vesely, who last held a concert in the country in 2012, plans to return early next year and promote the remixed and remastered version of his debut album, “Awake,” which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. It also comes with two new tracks, “Don’t Look Down” and “Lost.”
“I wanted to come up with something special for me and my fans,” related the singer-composer, who’s known for his earnest take on acoustic, emo-pop music.
Excerpts from our chat:
What do you find most memorable about your previous visit to Manila? I will never forget playing at the Skydome (in SM North Edsa). It’s one of my most favorite shows I’ve ever done—so magical.
I had some of the loudest fans and singers in the crowd that I have ever experienced. I couldn’t be happier. I can’t wait to go back again. I love the food and culture. The Philippines has been a prominent part of my life.
What inspired you to re-release “Awake?” It was my first album, which I wrote and recorded myself. A lot of things happened over the past 10 years, and I feel like it was important to revisit what inspired me to create music in the first place, and give it a nice tribute.
That album was mostly acoustic. What’s different this time? I mixed and mastered it, and added some orchestral and piano elements.
And I tried to bring new life to the songs, for the people who may not have heard of them yet.
Were there any new discoveries while working on the album? Revisiting the songs was an exciting experience, because it reminded me of where I was or what I was feeling when I was originally recording “Awake.”
Social media is now an important tool for artists. You’ve been utilizing it since the days of Myspace. It’s indeed a valuable promotional tool. Myspace was an important part of my journey. I still use it regularly to connect with my fans.
Were you fine with your music being labeled as “emo-pop?” Yeah, there are some negative connotations with the genre. But at the end of the day, I classify it as emotional music that you can connect with on a deeper level. All music comes from an emotional place, after all.
You didn’t mind those who dismissed “emo” as uncool? I’m here to play for people to whom my music means something—not for people who don’t like the idea of the genre.
How do you see your music going forward? The only way to go is to stay true to myself. I want to create something that’s timeless, that people could connect with.