Marlo Mortel now doing what his ‘soul craves’
While it was music that first got Marlo Mortel into show biz in 2009, he had to set it aside when big acting breaks came his way five years later. Now he hopes to make a proper career out of it.
“I have been singing since I was young. And it was the main reason I’m here. I joined singing contests. I got discovered by Kuya Germs and ended up in ‘Walang Tulugan.’ I then entered ‘X Factor PH.’ That’s what I really wanted,” he told the Inquirer in a recent virtual press conference for his new single, “Bituin,” which he wrote and coproduced.
In 2014, he landed a prominent role in the hit ABS-CBN series “Be Careful with My Heart.” The following year, he was paired with Janella Salvador in “OH My G!”
“I was given opportunities to star in those shows. Music was put on the side. I didn’t totally let go of it, but I just wasn’t able to pursue it the way I wanted … I was hoping to make a career out of it and achieve some success,” said Marlo, who had to make do with releasing singles once in a while—either as a solo artist or as part of his former group Harana.
His role as the family’s breadwinner also played a big part in his early career decisions.
‘Work and provide’
“I didn’t have much of a choice back then, because I needed jobs,” pointed out the 28-year-old artist, who felt the need to strive extra hard for his mother who succumbed to breast cancer in 2018. “Raket dito, doon… kuha lang ako nang kuha. I didn’t think too much about where my career was headed because my goal was to work and provide.”
This time, he wants to do things for himself—“what my soul is craving …” Aside from making music, Marlo is also taking up online certificate courses in voice and music technology.
Released under PolyEast Records, “Bituin,” is the first song he has released, he said, that shows who he truly is as a music artist.
“I had written songs in the past, but they weren’t who I am musically. I was just told to portray those kinds of music. But this is me … very organic. The vocals were left unpolished, because I want the imperfections to release the beauty of the song.
The song, which he considers his “baby,” is made even more special by the fact that it was inspired by his best friend who now lives in Vietnam.
“We have always found peace in nature … Even if we’re far apart, we feel comforted knowing that we’re looking at the same stars. And we feel connected as a result,” he said. “You know how you feel better when you look up to the sky, after the end of a busy day, or when life throws a lot of things at you. Stars give hope and calmness to us.”
Finding signature sound
Marlo is still in the process of finding his signature sound. But if he were to describe his latest material, he said they lean toward pop and lo-fi.
“There’s no definite genre or singing style—I’m just me. But I’m more influenced by pop, which isn’t also strictly defined; it’s more about what’s in at the moment. But I try to be poetic with my lyrics. I want them to be meaningful,” related Marlo, who used to be inspired by Jason Mraz, before discovering singer-songwriter-producers like Lauv.
Another theme “Bituin” touches on is mental health—something Marlo struggled with in the aftermath of his mother’s death, and last year in the middle of the pandemic.
“It was hard losing mom because I lost inspiration and motivation. I did what I did and strived to be the best version of myself because of my family. I was confused. ‘Why am I still doing this, then, if I can’t share it with them?’ I asked myself,” he said. “There was a time when I wanted to quit because I got tired and there was so much pressure.”
Thankfully, he has a dependable support system that never fails to lift him when things become too much to bear—like last year when he suffered from bouts of depression and mental breakdowns. “I’m lucky I have family and friends … go-to people” he said. INQ