The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"Sa Ugoy ng Musika" feature #1: Elise Estrada: Climbing Up the Charts

aving been a passionate listener of music of various genres since the ’70s, I was able to acquire not only a diverse musical taste but also the ability to classify music according to widely accepted genres and listen to it multidimensionally.

To an ordinary listener, perhaps a song consists of only the vocals and the background music. A multidimensional listener, however, has the ability to dissect a song into the different instruments and melodies employed during the recording process. The multidimensional listener can hear not only the vocal tracks but also the bass lines, the layers of guitars, the keyboards, the beat of each drum unit, and whatever other instruments are present in the song. This is one reason ordinary listeners find listening to complex genres of music like Classical, Progressive Rock, and Metal difficult. To them, the various musical instruments playing in complement or in counterpoint with one another are a mere cacophony of sounds.

A true lover of music is someone who sets no boundaries, someone who tries to appreciate any genre. To him, a somber Folk ballad is as moving as an intense Punk Rock song. To him, no music is more hip than another. Everyone has his own favorite, but this should not stop him from trying to listen to other forms of music. Or if his ears couldn’t really comprehend the complexity and intensity of some songs, at least show respect by avoiding unfounded criticisms.

It’s been a while since I started receiving suggestions from young readers that I begin a music column. They wanted to be updated on new artists and album releases and to rediscover past musical works.

There is no better way to respond to these music lovers’ requests than to start a music column.

I am calling this column “Sa Ugoy ng Musika,” which will tackle not only albums, the songs and the artists, but more so overview of music genres. Admiring a song without crediting its artist is like appreciating the body but disregarding the soul. Listening to music without knowing about genres is swimming in the vast ocean of music.

I will feature mostly Filipinos, but I will also give space to non-Filipino artists once in a while. After all, “Music is a universal language that transcends boundaries and bonds people even thousands of miles apart.”

Elise Estrada: Climbing Up the Charts

Genre: Dance/Hip-hop/R&B
: Elise Estrada (2008, RockStar Music Corp.)
Web site

For my first feature, I am welcoming Elise Estrada: a Canadian-raised, Vancouver-based Filipino singer who is currently touring Canada to promote her self-titled debut album. The first single, “Insatiable” reached number 44 in Canadian Hot 100 (a music singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine). Followup singles include “Unlove You,” “These Three Words,” and “Crash and Burn.” She has toured with the likes of Nelly, 50 Cent, and Girlicious.

Elise also became a beauty-pageant titleholder—Miss Vancouver in 2004.

I had the chance of interviewing Elise Estrada during her CD/autograph signing held on October 20 at shopgirl boutique located at 400 Academy Road.

According to Elise—who was born in 1987 in Marikina City, Philippines, and immigrated to Canada with his family when she was four—she started singing at the age of five, with the encouragement of her supportive parents, who are music enthusiasts themselves. Acknowledging the love of many Filipinos for karaoke/videoke singing, Elise said that she began to find her singing voice by listening to and singing songs by Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, and Michael Jackson—artists she regards as major influences. She cited also Beyoncé, Regine Velasquez, and Vina Morales as artists whom she admires.

Determined and persistent, Elise pursued her passion by joining singing competitions like Pinoy Pop Superstar (2006) and Vancouver’s The Beat 94.5’s annual talent search (2007).

Like many artists before her, Elise started her career by singing other artists’ songs, but she didn’t stop there. She persevered until she found the opportunity to record her first single and finally her own album. “After I did Pinoy Pop Superstar, that’s when we [my family and I] decided to take it to the next level, so I auditioned for The Beat, the radio station based in Vancouver that produced my first single….”

Since that she has little contribution to the album in terms of songwriting, I asked if she’s planning to write songs for her next album. “It’s something I’m definitely working on,” assured Elise. “There’s a difference between writing a good song and writing a hit song, and I’m not exactly at that level yet; but…but I’m working on it.”

To other aspiring artists who dream also of making their marks in the music industry, Elise has this to say: “If it’s something that you really love to do and are passionate about, then keep doing it; and work hard, and everything will fall into place…and make sure you do it for the right reasons.”

Elise Estrada signs autographs for her fans who dropped by to see her at shopgirl boutique owned by the young Filipino-Chinese entrepreneur Cyrile Ong.

Finally, I asked Elise how she is able to infuse her Filipino heritage into her works. “I let people know that I am Filipino. I mean, I think that’s one thing. Also, even the way I talk, the way I look, I don’t try to change anything. I think being Filipino makes me different, and it’s something to be proud of.”

At 21, with hard-earned wit and talent, and with a newly released album, Elise Estrada is definitely making her mark internationally—something that others can emulate and surely be proud of.

Thanks to Cyrile Ong, the owner of shopgirl boutique, for accommodating us during my interview session with Elise Estrada and for letting me interview her as well, the result of which merits a separate article.


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