Spotlight on Kat Agarrado
Kat Agarrado was the key player of the Pinoy Soul Movement that started in the early to mid 2000’s. More noteworthy is that to this day each time she performs in any venue, gig, event, show, and concert we are reminded that she is very much the embodiment of that rise to relevance, crossover appeal, and social acceptance of a genre that Kat Agarrado is the main driving force behind.
It is because of the efforts primarily of Kat Agarrado that Pinoy Soul Movement has become what it is today and interestingly, it continues to be one of the most flourishing music movements around here in the Philippines.
This will be the very first time for me that I will be able to interview the main artist behind a movement that has helped shape and refine the musical tastes of Filipinos beginning more than a decade ago.
Even for that reason alone–without having to mention the others–I consider Kat Agarrado to be one of the living treasures in the Philippine Music Scene.
Kat Agarrado is one the most important and influential artists who have risen from obscurity to mainstream awareness in the last thirty or more years.
Kat Agarrado was always on my “radar” since the early to mid 2000’s and then, when I became a contributor back in the late 2000’s with the other major broadsheet, she was an artist I was hoping that I could one day interview. So now, to be able to finally conduct a proper and full interview with Kat Agarrado is something I can check off my bucket list before I die and which I will always be proud of.
I hope that this article, my solo piece on her, will somehow lift the veil of the mystic and allure that surround Kat Agarrado.
1) What/who first inspired you to get into music?
Kat Agarrado: It was really my mom who inspired me to be in this business. My mama exposed me to talent shows & singing competitions as a child.
She bought me my 1st tape and it was Lea Salonga’s 1st album. She would also buy me minus one and multiplex tapes to practice on our karaoke back in the 80’s. And I remember I had a pillow with speakers inside it and my mom would play Jazz tunes before I go to bed everyday.
2) Do you remember the very first time that you performed in front of a live audience? How was that experience for you?
Kat Agarrado: I’ve been performing since I was a li’l kid. I think my very first experience singing before a live audience was when I was 4 years old in Eat Bulaga! Lol…
But with SinoSikat I remember it was for MyxMo in Baywalk in Roxas Blvd and I wore a black mask and I remember having a blast singing my heart out and seeing my friends in the audience.
3) What are your songs about? What specific themes do they cover?
Kat Agarrado: For this album, it’s a mixture of everything. Of course, there’s about love, about life, and some stuff in my head. But no heartbreak songs for this one. It’s all about love and life and the good stuff.
4) Around how old were you when you realized that you wanted to have a career in singing and that this was something you were determined to pursue?
Kat Agarrado: I was in third year high school. I started singing with a professional band called Kindred Garden (K 24-7). I was only 16 and I never stopped since then. I made an album with Passage at the age of 19. After Passage, I started singing Jazz in hotels while I sang Blues & Classic Rock for Wally Gonzalez band on the side. That was also the time when I started forming my band (Sinosikat) and thought of bringing my songs to life. I got inspired with Tito Wally’s stories of Juan Dela Cruz and that really motivated me.
I think when I was 18-19 yrs old, I was with with Passage at that time and that’s when I realized that this was my calling. I was having so much fun singing, traveling, and getting paid. And learning & making music with Vic Mercado & Ira Cruz, having them as my band mates and as my mentors, changed how I hear and perceive music.
It always felt like the music was the one choosing me and not the other way around.
5) Can you still remember what year it was when the ‘Pinoy Soul Movement’ really took off and became a force to be reckoned with in the local scene? What were your feelings at that point?
Kat Agarrado: It started 2005. But when I got signed with Warner Music Records, I proposed a Pinoy Soul album to Neil Gregorio and we made a compilation of Pinoy Soul bands I had suggested to him. I think for us to be able to make an album, I think that was it. But I wasn’t really paying attention about the popularity or whatever. It was just an excuse for us to get together as friends for music. After a year Barangay Tibay was born tas yun lumaki parehas nagulat nalang kami padami ng padami mga tao every month plus more and more bands wanted to join and got inspired, too. More Pinoy Soul Funk music emerged. For me, that’s when you make it… pag may mga tao na nai-inspire gumawa at gumalaw dahil nakita nilang ginawa mo at posible pala.
My feelings? I was just having a blast with my friends. It was the best days of our lives; we ruled the underground scene without trying to prove anything. We were just having fun, playing music for love and friendship. We were all about sharing our music and bringing everyone together. It was the beginning of the indie scene era if I am not mistaken.
6) Many who are familiar with ‘Pinoy Soul Movement’ and are followers of it consider you to be the main artist behind that force. Certainly, I am one of those who believe that! More than a decade later, what can you say about the fact that without you having had led the charge and being at the helm of the surging movement back then, that most likely it would not have lasted as long as it has?
Kat Agarrado: I guess I was the one who would plan, organize and make it happen in Saguijo back then. This started with the help of my good friends who share the same passion for Soul Funk Pinoy music such as Cosmic Love and Pinoy Stories. I remember I would promote it through Yahoo Groups and Multiply and Myspace… Haha, wala pang Facebook kasi noon. I would even make flyers . It was something I was passionate about. Kasi naniwala ako na mas maraming sundalo, mas malakas ang pwersa. Walang mangyayari masyado pag kakanya kanya. Para sa akin, mas marami , mas nagkakaisa, mas masaya. Kaya ang saya pag Pinoy Soul,di ba ? Alam mo yan ! :)
7) Do you still remember the first song you composed and got to perform in front of a live audience?
Kat Agarrado: Yes. It was for Levi’s event organized by Ronald Pasion. I jammed with Allen Umali and Reli De Vera’s band then and did an impromptu jam over a Reggae beat and I sang a freestyle version of “Prayer”.
8) In this year 2017, as we look back now to one of the best years ever in the local scene from the early to late 2000’s, many artists in those glorious years are no longer around. Thankfully, you are still active. Being a time-tested artist and a veteran of the scene, what can you say is that quality you have or the traits you possess which you believe have made you last to this day?
Kat Agarrado: My passion for OPM!
Pangarap ko rin maiangat ang musika natin. Mag-iwan ng magandang halimbawa at musika sa mga susunod na henerasyon ng mga musiko.
Also, I think because I’m a visionary.
And I just have never stopped. I know I am here to stay. Signed or not signed. I’m not going to be stopped because this is the most natural thing for me. It’s almost like breathing. It’s my unstoppable passion. Haha.
And I would always have or set new goals for my music career. I would always have new ideas. I just know that this is what I’m supposed to do right now and I am fulfilling and living the dream. It’s never easy but I just know that I have been given this gift for a reason. Hopefully, it is to open doors for artists like myself. To inspire them to create, experiment, unbox themselves, and collaborate. Na pwede kang tumugtog ng Soul, ng Jazz, ng Rock, ng Blues, ng Pop, ng Hip-Hop, ng Electronic, ng kahit na anong gusto mo, na pwede mong gawin lahat if you have the will to do it.
I always have my notebook of all my ideas and I do my best to pursue them . Or check something on my list. Nadedeps kasi ako pag walang nangyayari.
I think importante na you have to believe in yourself or your project no matter what your situation is, no matter what your negative mind is telling you. With hard work and perseverance, things always work out. And I think your intention is really important. Kung tama ang intensyon mo and you do service sa kapwa mo, for sure God will bless you for it, no doubt. And I’m very, very lucky to be given amazing opportunities & blessed to be surrounded and helped by my amazing friends in and out of the business.
Parang ikaw, Joseph.
9) Of all the songs you have composed and performed, which is that one song that you always go back to and can rely on to capture the immediate attention of the crowd at gigs, events, and concerts ?
Kat Agarrado: “Magic” and “So Blue”, for sure. Madami din may gusto ng “Prayer” at “Praning” at “Turning My Safety Off”.
10) The first time I ever got to see an ad for your band SinoSikat? was in a website called “Bandscapes” and I still vividly remember you had a bonnet on with cut-outs for your eyes but the rest of your face was covered. I always found that picture of yours to be intriguing and attention grabbing because even though only your eyes were shown, anyone could quickly guess you are strikingly good-looking. Can you tell us the story behind that now classic pic of yours? What propelled you do that pose?
Kat Agarrado: Haha! That was the first gig of Sinosikat for MyxMo as I had mentioned earlier. That pic was captured by Steve Tirona before we went on stage. We thought we’d hide my face since its Sino sikat? Hehe (it was spelled Sino Sikat? at first. Then I decided to make it one word for the album).
11) How did you come up with the band name SinoSikat? Can you tell us the story behind it?
Kat Agarrado: Nung umpisa kasi, Bamboo was like our brother band. We’d always hang out, practice at Ira’s dad’s house in Cubao, and Nathan Azarcon would always sing, “Sino si Kat, Sino si Kat” and would say “Gagawan kita ng kanta na ganyan, sino sikat. Yun! So, yan na lang. Sino Sikat”. And everyone agreed.
12) I rarely openly praise any artist… but it is crystal clear to me that you will go down as one of the all time greats that the local scene, and OPM in general, will have ever seen and heard mainly because you have been very instrumental in pushing forward a genre or a movement that not a lot of people had heard of then in the local mainstream scene. With that said… what do you hope will be the legacy that you would want to leave behind when everything is said and done?
Kat Agarrado: Wow, thank you for those kind words! I do my best!
But I am doing what I do because I have heard that we have touched & inspired a lot of lives with the music we created and somehow influenced a lot of musicians today. A lot of people are coming to me saying that they used to just listen to rock but now, they listen to Jazz because of me daw.
I think that is really cool, when you open their young minds and they are letting you know how they appreciate it. Chaka wala ako haters in fairness. Parang 2-3 lang in my whole career! Lol
13) Any new songs or album that you are working on that you want to promote? Any upcoming gigs and events?
Kat Agarrado: Working on my first album as Kat Agarrado ( I don’t know if it’s safe to tell na the album title? But its going to be called ‘PINAYSOUL’.
Hopefully, it will be completed by summer of 2017. I have two to three more songs to record in the studio. Then, mixing and mastering na. I’m looking for a manager who would understand the vision and would have the same passion for this project.
Hopefully, this album would reach a much more wider audience.
I would love to share this, our music, locally and God willing, globally.
On November 15. I will be launching a new single and music video (called “Kapalaran“) in 20:20 Bar.
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