Double indie showcase: Marga Jayy and Nicole Reluya

Double indie showcase: Marga Jayy and Nicole Reluya

/ 12:49 PM May 20, 2024

Double indie showcase: Marga Jayy and Nicole Reluya

Marga Jayy and Nicole Reluya. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS.

Our nation will continuously produce talented artists who possess unique personalities, distinctive characteristics, and individual musical styles. Frequently, most of them fail to receive adequate attention and are not afforded a fair opportunity to excel.

On a less casual note, the statement I just made is one of the most serious I have made in a while, yet it remains accurate. There is a wealth of talent present in various spheres, with individuals excelling as artists, musicians, or members of musical ensembles in a multitude of locations in the country.


Twelve years ago, upon commencing my tenure as a columnist originally dedicated solely to music, I established a subsection entitled “Indie Showcase,” which highlights bands, artists, and musicians active within the independent scene.


At that juncture, numerous gifted individuals with whom I had the chance to interview and showcase remained relatively unknown to a wider audience, as they had not yet achieved widespread recognition beyond their devoted fan following. Nevertheless, each of them has musical talents worthy of a broader audience, thus leading to the creation of “Indie Showcase” as a component of my entertainment column, MusicMatters.

The majority of bands and artists showcased were not under contract with a major record label, nor did they receive a distribution agreement then. However, as fate would have it, a good number of them were signed or given much bigger opportunities, and a few became very popular.

In 2024, I will be activating this specific subsection of my entertainment column for the first time in over four years, as it is needed again. This time, instead of featuring only one indie artist or band, I decided to feature two, as both have something special to offer.

Get to know the talented, beautiful, and awesome artists, Marga Jayy and Nicole Reluya.

READ: Zack Tabudlo returns to the spotlight with ‘Feel This Way’

Marga Jayy

What/who inspired you to get into music?


I come from a family of music lovers. When I was little, my dad played a lot of old-school soul music at home. Whenever my aunts and uncles visited the Philippines from New York, they made me listen to artists they saw in Blue Note. When I became a teenager, my cousins introduced me to the music of Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo, and I thought they were so cool. I told myself I wanted to be that kind of artist. I also wanted to have that effect they had on me—revolutionary, raw, and thought-provoking.

What/who are your musical influences?

Right now, I like the recent releases of KNOWER, DOMi & JD Beck, and Willow Smith. But my all-time favorites are Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Bobby Mcferrin, and Casey Benjamin, to name a few.

Can you describe your style of music to the unfamiliar?

Every release is different from the last one. I make songs without thinking about the genre. A lot of people think I’m RnB. But when you listen to my songs side-by-side with other RnB artists today, they’re not the same. My music is highly influenced by the genre, but it also has an undertone of funk. There’s an element of grit and psychedelia as well. And since I’m a sentimental person, I also have songs where I exhibit my vulnerability and soft side.

What do you think of the current local scene?

Marga Jayy: The local scene has become very diverse and welcoming. I think anybody can make music now. If you want to release a song, it’s so easy! Nobody needs the approval of a corporation anymore.

Who is Marga Jayy, in a nutshell?

A punk with a halo on top.

Do you wish to promote any upcoming gigs?

I’ll be releasing a single on my birthday, May 24. The song is called “100 Mensahe”. The track is a cinematic journey through sound blending elements of Latin, Neo-soul, and City Pop. You’ll hear me sing about unrequited love, along with regrets over everything left unsaid, amidst a backdrop of silky smooth synth work courtesy of Dan Gil a.k.a. Vintage Boy. It’s the B-side to our first collaboration, the Awit Awards-nominated “Makina”. There will be a launch party for it on June 1 at 78-45-33, Salcedo Village, Makati.

Nicole Reluya

What/who inspired you to get into music?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been listening to music. My dad is a folk singer, and he’s always singing with his guitar. Every morning I hear James Taylor, Dan Folderberg, Jim Croce, and many more. I was just a kid at that time, but when I hear the melodies of these songs with amazing lyrics, it gives me comfort and a good feeling. It was those moments that ignited the spark.

After that, I got into the marching band playing the clarinet during my high school days, where I learned more about music theory and note reading. After graduating from high school, I took the entrance exam to the University of the Philippines College of Music. This is where my real journey began, as I walked into Abelardo Hall on my first day as a freshman. I heard the UP Jazz Ensemble rehearsing, and I said to myself, “I want to play the saxophone.” I was so inspired that I geeked out about jazz on YouTube when I got home.

What/who are your musical influences?

I met many friends at UP Diliman, including musicians and mentors who are great artists. When we hung out after rehearsals and classes, I would ask them about their playlists and who they listened to. They introduced me to smooth jazz playlists. The first time I watched Candy Dulfer on YouTube, she blew me away. I remember thinking to myself, “I want to play and perform like her someday.” That’s when I started discovering more musicians like Gerald Albright, Dave Koz, Mindi Abair, Eric Mariental, Kenny Garrett, and Michael Brecker, among many others.

As I continued to study jazz at UP Diliman, I learned about everything from blues and traditional bebop to Dixie and modern styles. I delved into chord progressions and improvisation and found that listening more helped me understand better. That’s why I started listening to Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Paul Desmond. Through them, I discovered Sonny Stitt, Phil Woods, and Zoot Sims. I lost count of how many times I listened to their albums, but these three became my personal favorites and I learned so much from them.

Can you describe your style of music to the unfamiliar?

I primarily create instrumental jazz music, although I have experience playing a variety of genres due to my work as a freelance musician. I am involved in session work, recording, and performances with various artists. When I compose songs, the melody is usually the first element that comes to mind, followed by harmony and arrangement. While I don’t always focus on a specific genre when creating music, it typically falls into the categories of smooth jazz or pop jazz. Some of my original, unpublished work includes elements of folk. I find that melody is always at the forefront of my creative process. There is something special about conveying a story through musical notes alone, even without lyrics, the emotion and experiences of someone’s life can be felt.

What do you think of the current local scene?

We are all enjoying ourselves in the industry, collaborating and creating music using the resources and platforms available to us. Everything is so accessible right now. Artists can release songs and market themselves on the internet. We just have to put in the hard work. However, sometimes it’s not easy to do that, especially when balancing other jobs and doing everything independently. I hope that someday producers or labels will discover more instrumentalists here in the Philippines. I can’t control the situation, I can only do my best by creating honest music and trying to put myself out there. I am looking forward to more opportunities like shows, tours, and masterclasses in the future. Many great artists in the Philippines are independently releasing music, such as Simon Tan, Joey De Guzman, Alvin Cornista, and many more.

Who is Nicole Reluya, in a nutshell?

I am Nicole Tejedor- Reluya, the Sax Diva of the Philippines. I am a diva on stage, but off stage, I am just a girl catching her breath after a performance.

Do you wish to promote any upcoming gigs?

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As of now, I don’t have publicly scheduled gigs as Sax Diva, we are doing demos for an upcoming single release this year. But here are my gig schedules where you can watch me with my bands. “Jeepney Jazz” at Ayala Museum June 8, 2024. I’m playing with my band Brass Rosette. “Fete Dela Musique” June 28, 2023 at H & J Bar Poblacion. I’m playing with Uncle Bob’s Funky Seven Club.

TAGS: indie artists

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