Spotlight on Keiko Sarmiento Necesario
When I was growing up, I was exposed to so many, many young local artists who were often overlooked and remained “below the radar” for the majority of people. Listening to those artists in my early teens—mostly through bootleg cassette tape copies of their records in the absence then of file sharing on the internet, YouTube, and any form of social media, I would so wish—to the point of helpless frustration—that others, too, could listen to their music and discover for themselves why I was so captivated by those artists’ music. Then, it was too “risky” to lend my prized cassette tapes because they were never returned or, if at all, it would take forever for my tapes to be returned after endless reminders. But more significantly, my most prized cassette tapes were passed on to me by older music aficionados who were quite amused by my fascination with “discovering” local music that was best described to be “out of the box” during those years.
That desire of mine to share our relatively unknown or “brushed-off” local talents’ music never left me as I got older and I promised myself that, one day, I WILL do something about it. I did not want to be a mere “witness” to our local music scene and everything that was truly happening around it and within it.
I have seeped through the cracks!
As you can tell by now, my wish has come to fruition. Now I have the means to do something about it via my column “MusicMatters” which was never about me only; I have dedicated it also to our independent artists, especially, because they are the ones who need most the exposure and the help. I don’t want them to feel they are perpetually overlooked and that nobody cares about them, despite the fact that they are so truly musically gifted. Some of them are even better than our most well known local mainstream artists now despite their young age!
Now, here is my latest artist to be featured on “Spotlight on…”. Keiko Sarmiento Necesario is a young, committed, and musically gifted singer-guitarist who has quietly begun to make ripples in the local scene and has people taking notice of her already.
I believe it is her time now to be heard by more people and for them to get the chance to also enjoy her music as I have. This, in fact, will be the very first ever mainstream media interview Keiko Sarmiento Necesario will be giving.
When did you start playing the guitar ?
Keiko: I first picked up the guitar when I was in 5th grade… Had my mom teach me a few chords in 6th grade but it was in my first year in high school that I really fell in love with playing and I couldn’t put the guitar down ever since.
What was the first tune(s) you learned ?
Keiko: My mom taught me 3 basic chords before… A, E, and D. I practiced with the tune of “Kapaligiran” by ASIN. My parents were obsessed with that band.
Is your family musical ?
Keiko: Yes, very. Both of my parents and their families were pretty much into music. Although, I am the first one to really pursue it as a career.
Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones ?
Keiko: I wish I grew up listening to old records but as a kid from the 90’s, I think I was more into the pop songs from that era like the usual tracks by Jolina Magdangal, Roselle Naval, and boy bands like Westlife, Boyzone, and N’SYNC. But as I went to college, that was the time when I discovered my love for old tracks by The Beatles, James Taylor, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Eva Cassidy, and The Carpenters.
Who was your first teacher in music ?
Keiko: Like I said, my mom was the first one who taught me how to play the guitar…. But when I was about 10 years old I think, I asked my parents if I could get piano lessons and so I did. I had an old woman to teach me but sadly, I couldn’t remember her name anymore and I even stopped with taking the lessons to soon because I was a little stubborn as a kid. I honestly did not know what I really wanted… hehe
Which famous musicians have inspired you most ?
Keiko: There are so many musicians I consider my idols when it comes to performing and skills but the two artists that have inspired me the most to be passionate and to thrive more are John Mayer and Taylor Swift. They are the two artists that just completely blow me away every time; their song-writing skills, John’s amazing guitar playing, Taylor Swift’s attitude towards things and her passion for music. I could not think of a more fascinating musicians than these two. They’re genuine, pure talent, and they truly are musical geniuses.
How often and for how long do you practice?
Keiko: I probably practice 3-4 hours a day in my room but I feel like where I can truly practice my skills is when I am up on stage, performing. I consider my regular shows a good place to rehearse, just letting myself experience what it really feels like to be up there, trying to get the audience, and singing my heart out.
And I find it useful and effective because I’ve noticed it myself and even the people around me, they’d be like, “Hey, you’re even better with the guitar now. You’ve improved” and then it hit me… I guess that’s because I had gigs 4 times a week for 2 years and then I still do shows now. That’s why I love it when I get to sing even when it gets a little exhausting but the idea of improving because I go out there and take risks, it all pays off in the end.
What do you practice—exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.?
Keiko: I don’t have proper exercises but I’ve been wanting to start getting guitar lessons. Although I’m a little bit pre-occupied now so I can’t really find time. But when I practice, I just listen to my favorite tracks or to a new song and try to figure out how to play them until I nail them all.
What’s the relevance of technique in music, in your opinion?
Keiko: It’s important to have a certain technique in music, whether it’s something you learned in school or something you learned on your own. It makes everything much easier, from practicing all the way to the actual performance because when you know what you’re doing, the music will always sound even better. And I wish I was more trained so I’ll be able to go out of the box and not be afraid of coming out of my comfort zone when I’m writing or playing.
What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?
Keiko: It’s been almost 4 years since I really pursued music as a career and ever since, I have had some memorable experiences in music that I love so much; First was when I got to be one of the 14 finalists of the 1st Philippine Popular Music Festival in 2012. Then there was the Elements Song-Writing Camp where my life was changed completely because I met so many humble and young talented artists. I even got to meet the musicians I grew up listening to like Chito Miranda, Gloc 9, Yeng Constantino, Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, and Ebe Dancel. I still could not believe I get to be around artists I idolize and look up to so much. My favorite musical memory was when I sang in front of them and I saw Mr. C come up in front and just looked at me in awe. After my song, I passed by him and he literally waved at me and said some awesome encouraging words and said that he loved my voice. Coming from the maestro himself, that was the highlight of my year right there.
How long did it take to make your first album, ‘Keiko?’
Keiko: It took me 4-5 months to make the album because the idea only hit me in the middle of last year and I wanted to release it so soon that I had to make it happen really fast but I made sure that the songs are not half-baked at all.
How was the songwriting and recording process for you?
Keiko: It was exciting and frustrating at the same time. Exciting because I was making my album. This is my first album ever… It’s frustrating because I set a timeline and I only had a little time and I really didn’t want to wait till the next year which is now (2016).
All the songs in my album were written in different phases of my life like I have songs in there from when I was in high school, I got songs there that I wrote in my college days, and I got new tracks as well so the album is pretty much my whole life, I would say. It’s been fun, recording in different places and having different producers who helped me make this record complete. At first, I had no clue what I was going to do because I had nothing; I had no money, I had no solid materials, and I only had that dream of releasing my first album. So I tried to ask for help and I feel so blessed that I have friends who are willing to work with me because they believe in me and my music. There are four producers involved in making the album: Shadiel Chan of Open Haven, Toto Sorioso (a good friend of mine who’s also an incredibly amazing singer/song-writer), Dan Tanedo of Bellhaus, and Kettle Mata. I collaborated with awesome singer/song-writer friends as well like Kim Trinidad of LOOP (co-writer for Away From The Current), Luis Cortez (Co-writer for Dito Ka Lang), and Makoy Portado (co-writer of BROKEN) and along the way. I also had the privilege of having Kiko Salazar, Kem Alia, JD Gurion, and Alshira Artates to work with me on the songs in the album so I truly am grateful that they were more than willing to share their time, effort, and talent to finish the record on time. It was such an amazing experience and I owe my career to these people.
What are your favorite tracks from the album?
Keiko: I am obsessed with my song “Away From The Current,” it’s actually my 2nd single from the record and this song just gives me that peaceful vibe and it makes me want to fall in love every time. My other favorite is my first single “Through It All.” This one is close to my heart and it’s a song about unconditional love.
What are your immediate music career goals ? (Next 1 to 3 years.)
Keiko: Right now, I am working hard enough to get my music out there and make more people listen and get attached to my music. I definitely am planning to have a little tour of my own with some of my favorite artists… Maybe go around the country or out of the country. My goal is to have a bigger audience to get lost in the music I create and let them know that OPM is never dead. I also hope that I get better at what I do so I’d be able to give my listeners a much more exciting live shows and heartfelt songs in the coming years.
What are your long-term career goals ?
Keiko: I know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life and that is to continue living and breathing music for as long as I could but I have a deal with God. I’ve been praying that I reach whatever dreams I want to reach and hope for the best. I really want to get to Hollywood and if that one’s for me, that would be really amazing. But I always tell God this, “Lord, you know what I really want in life but if you feel that this is not what I need, then I trust you with your plans for me.” So I guess right now, I could say that my long term career plan is to just touch other people’s lives with the songs I write and play shows until I could no longer move.
What are the qualities you have which you feel set you apart from all the other young and talented local artists we have now ?
Keiko: I find it so hard to answer what sets me apart from other artists because I know a lot of musicians who are just as passionate as I am with music. Some are even far better than I am. But I think there’s this one quality that I know about myself as an artist that I am proud of and that’s me being such an optimistic writer. Almost all the songs I write have a hopeful message and positive vibe in them… It’s like I believe in the goodness of things, people, and situations so much so that even the saddest songs I make still would consist of words or lines that come out hopeful even when I don’t intend to.
Who is Keiko Sarmiento Necesario in a nutshell ?
Keiko: Keiko Necesario in a nutshell is a hopeful romantic, a simple kind of girl who believes in the goodness of things around her. RAM
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