Arthur Nery went from performing at birthday parties and weddings to having one of the biggest hits of the year with Pagsamo.
They say that most people’s journey in life is never a straight path. While you may see yourself achieving a certain dream, the road to that usually isn’t clear-cut. You may have to go through a few detours before you reach your destination. For Arthur Nery, while music was a major presence and source of inspiration in his life, pursuing a career in music was not something he immediately saw himself doing.
But after taking on a few jobs here and there, Arthur decided to take the plunge and pursue music full time. And it’s safe to say that he made the right decision given how he is seen as one of the stars of the next generation of OPM. NYLON Manila recently caught up with the young musician to talk about his music, the success of Pagsamo, and what else we can expect from him.
HOW MUSIC CAME INTO ARTHUR’S LIFE
Born and raised in Cagayan De Oro, Arthur Nery was always into music since he was young. In fact, music actually runs in the family as his parents are singers. He credits them for inspiring him to make music. “When I was younger, we used to sing like worship songs before sleeping. So ‘yun siguro, doon na-open ‘yung mind ko sa music and dun na nagtuloy-tuloy.” Aside from this, Arthur’s dad was also into jazz and blues, so hearing artists like Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble wasn’t an uncommon at the Nery household. But while Arthur did dabble in making and writing music and songs while in high school and college, he mostly kept it to himself or close friends and family.
When he was in college, Arthur took up a degree in Psychology at Ateneo de Cagayan. His early jobs were also unrelated to music. For a time, he was an online English tutor teaching Japanese students. He also trained at a call center. Arthur admits that he actually enjoyed what he was doing before. “I loved my job before. But you know mas tumatakbo ‘yung puso papunta sa music career so ayun I just kept following my heart.” And follow his heart he did.
After a little encouragement from a close friend, Arthur decided to become a full-time musician. But success didn’t come in an instant. Like most struggling artists, Arthur resorted to performing at birthday parties, weddings, company parties, basically places that would accept him. But he would soon get his proverbial golden ticket in 2019.
Arthur was booked to be the opening act to comedian Wacky Kiray’s concert in Bukidnon. There, he performed his first single, the independently released Life Puzzle. The performance got the attention of Wacky Kiray and he asked him if he had a record deal. When Arthur said no, Wacky called up Kean Cipirano and told him about Arthur. One thing led to another and soon, Arthur Nery was a signed artist under Kean’s record label, O/C Records. And the success soon followed.
RECORD-BREAKING SUCCESS OF PAGSAMO
Following his record deal signing in 2019, Arthur dropped his second official single, Binhi, which became a hit in its own right. Later in the year, he also dropped his debut studio album, Letters Never Sent, which included the hit single Higa. The 10-track album became a critical favorite and was praised for its lyrics and R&B-inspired sound. But 2021 would prove to be Arthur’s biggest year in his career to date. On October 1, he dropped his latest single, Pagsamo, and it quickly became a smash hit. The emotional track broke Spotify Philippines records and racked up over 400k-500k streams on a daily basis. It also beat back global superstars like BTS and Adele to reach the top spot on the charts.
As of this writing, Pagsamo has over 12.8 million streams on Spotify and is currently number one on Spotify Philippines’ Top 50 chart. In fact, five of Arthur’s songs are currently in the Top 50 charts. Arthur expressed that he couldn’t believe the success he’s currently experiencing. “Hindi ko pa siya ma-grasp totally. ‘Yung thought na nag #1 siya kasi I was so busy doing, making, creating more and more. I feel overwhelmed though and flattered pero ‘di pa talaga siya nagsi-sink in sakin.” Arthur’s success even helped him chart on the Global Artist Ranking, alongside one of his favorite artists, Daniel Caesar. “I was so surprised. Kasi ‘yun nga I’m a fan of Daniel tapos ‘yung sa ranking magkatabi talaga kami, as in super close. Pero thank you so much for supporting me and thank you for taking care of me, Daniel Caesar. Fans, thank you for existing.”
HOW PAGSAMO CAME TO BE AND ARTHUR’S MUSICAL STYLE
“It’s probably the most personal song na nasulat ko ever and ayon, hinugot ko lahat don,” says Arthur about the inspiration behind Pagsamo. While the track is currently experencing huge success, making the song itself with his producer Axel was quite uneventful, at least for Arthur. “Nung ginawa ko siya, super random day lang, very random evening. Naisip ko ‘yung intro, ‘yung first line, then ayon na don na nagsimula. Ang bilis niya natapos, parang sobrang bilis lang siya.”
Given how Arthur has only been in the industry for a few years, he doesn’t have a concrete idea of what his music style is. “Wala akong specific genre in mind while writing the songs.” While his music does feature elements of R&B neo-soul, it’s not the full picture of his style. “Meron konting neo-soul R&B. Pero ‘di rin siya pure.”
This fluidity is also present when it comes to making music, which he describes as freestyle. “Sometimes ‘yung mga random thoughts minsan may pumapasok sa isip ko na beat lang, tempo lang, arrangement lang, pero walang words. Minsan naman nauuna yung words. Minsan sabay. Most of the time sabay siya na pag nagsusulat ako, may specific note na siya for that specific word.” As for what fuels his music, he says that the people around him and the life and stories from his friends and family are what he looks to for inspiration.
HONESTY IN HIS MUSIC
When you listen to a song from Arthur Nery, you should be prepared for vocals, honesty, and emotion. Whenever Arthur composes a song, it comes from a special place which is why most, if not all, of his songs really hit home to a lot of people. This honesty and somewhat raw emotion is something Arthur tries to put into his music. “I’m always honest with my lyrics kasi super judgmental ko sa sarili ko na parang kini-criticize ko ‘yung self ko na pag gumawa ako ng pretentious na lyrics/emotions na ganito, ganyan. Hindi ako nakaka-move forward sa next ko na mga steps. I want it to be as pure as possible.”
He admits that he does worry sometimes that may get too honest with his music and tries to avoid putting out information that is too personal. But his goal is to always make music that people can relate to, or at least feels real to him. “It doesn’t matter kung ano ilalagay mo diyan as long as people understand. If it’s from the heart, it’s good.”
DEALING WITH PRESSURE AND FUTURE PLANS
With Pagsamo currently heating up the charts, does Arthur Nery feel the pressure for his next release to do well? “Yes, andon naman talaga siya, lagi. ‘Di siya nawawala. You can get very heartfelt and emotional when it comes to your music.” But with the way he sees it, all the songs he has released so far are special to him. “I treat my songs as children. I love them differently. May respect ako sa mga times na yun yung nailabas ko na music. So, I respect my songs. Kasi sila ‘yung outlet ko ng mga times na ‘yon.”
As of now, Arthur is currently busy working on his next projects. He said that he is working on his second studio album and it will be coming soon. He also teased other releases, including more collaborations with other artists. He’s been so busy working on his music that he admits he still hasn’t found the time to really process his current success and legions of new fans. Speaking of new fans, when asked what he thinks the first song first-time listeners of his should listen to, he suggests either Binhi, Higa, or Pagsamo, and even joked, “Siguro kantahan ko na lang sila in person.”
Arthur’s relatively quick rise in the OPM scene is something that many musicians would dream of. And even though Arthur’s journey to where he is now wasn’t easy, he cites his family as the reason why he says motivated. “I want to give my mom a better life and my family and ayon lagi. Lumaki ako sa training na ‘go bigger go home’ or if you go home, it’s okay, you go big next time. Parang ganon, starts with the family.”
As for his advice for aspiring and would-be musicians, something he can very much relate to, he says this. “Art is free. You own your own craft. Just be inspired and never treat other artists as competition kasi medyo nakaka-hinder ‘yan ng progress mo as an artist and individuality. Medyo nag-slower ‘yung pace mo pag masyado nagma-matter sa’yo ‘yung competition. Just be yourself and just keep on expressing. And never be afraid to feel emotions. If you’re an artist, always remember to create from the heart and always remember to take care of yourself. And be good to other people. Respect above anything else.”