grentperez began his music career as just a hobby on YouTube. Now, the Filipino-Australian amassed a string of well-received singles.
In the age of social media and the internet, the barrier of entry for many creatives has been significantly lowered. If in the past it was heavily advised that you have connections in the industry so that you can even get your foot in the door, that doesn’t apply as much today. The ease in connectivity has democratized the system in such a way that all you have to do is post something online for people to notice you. Some of the biggest artists of today got their start thanks to getting attention online. The same could be said for grentperez.
Just a few years ago, Grent posted simple covers on his YouTube channel, some of which have gone viral. But just this year, he embarked on a full-fledged career that so far has produced singles that have been streamed millions of times all over the world. NYLON Manila got the chance to talk to the rising musician to get a deeper dive into how this Fil-Aus turned a hobby into a promising career.
A MUSICALLY INCLINED FAMILY
As the youngest of three kids in a Filipino family, Grent was immersed in music since he was young. Growing up, he would listen to bands like The Eagles, The Beatles, and Queen. “I believe my musicality roots began with my parents. Even though they never fully dived into music, they definitely had interests in it. Later on, however, the musicality developed with my siblings constantly singing around me. I picked up my first guitar and learned it because of them,” he says. One of the first songs he learned was Jeremy Passion’s Lemonade.
Eventually, his liking for music led him to create his YouTube channel in 2013. Over the years, Grent would post song covers of just him and his guitar. Sometimes his siblings would also join. His covers racked in views and his sing you to sleep series was a particular hit.
Grent shared that his success on YouTube was the main catalyst for him to try to pursue a career in music full-time. “It had always been a lingering thought to pursue music. But I never gave it a proper chance until I saw my growth on YouTube. My community really encouraged me to keep going, and the moment I wrote and posted my first song(s) I had a gut feeling that maybe I could do this…especially while I’m still young!” But before Grent could do that, he first had to make a very big decision.
COLLEGE OR MUSIC
Like with most Asian parents, education was an important priority in Grent’s household. At the time, he was a freshman in college and was facing an important crossroads, finish college or drop out and do music full time. You can guess what Grent chose. While dropping out of school to pursue a career that is far from certain can be a nightmare for many parents, Grent admits that his parents were okay with it. While there were a few questions and thoughts from his parents, Grent feels that they supported what he wanted to do.
As to why not stay in college and make music, it boils down to where he wanted his focus to be concentrated on. “This was definitely a big decision for me. My main concern was having to decide what should take priority. Personally, it came down to seeing that if I were to do this whole music thing correctly, it would have to take my full creative attention. I know that some other artists are absolutely incredible and can balance both. But I’m not so eligible haha and on top of that I wanted to take a risk!”
A BEDROOM BANGER GOES VIRAL
After spending 2020 honing and refining his sound, which he describes as “calm, engaging, and poetic” and “jumbled around between Bossa Nova, Folk, Indie/Indie Rock, and RnB,” Grent released his first singles. Little did he know how much of a splash it would make. Cherry Wine is a laid-back tune that tells a story of the beginnings of a summer romance. The track takes inspiration from rom-coms like 50 First Dates, Midnight In Paris and She’s All That. Grent’s voice paired with a swaying production made for a dreamy feel.
He co-wrote the song with Dan Henig (who has worked with the likes of ZAYN, Noah Cyrus, Monster X) over Zoom in his bedroom. “We were writing a song when midway I felt I wasn’t too fond of it. I picked the guitar and played a few chords and blurted out some random lines being, “Why you standing all by yourself? Those shoes were made for dancing with someone else’ at that point I kind of paused and thought… “OH woah, HA that sounds sick let’s work with that.” Cherry Wine slowly developed to what it is today from that point.”
“I just thought of seeing someone you’re fond of sitting alone by candlelight while the dance floor is patiently waiting for her to bust a move,” says Grent on the vibe of the song.
The track soon went viral and landed on charts across Southeast Asia, including in the Philippines. To date, the song has nearly seven million streams on Spotify alone. “I am still overwhelmed at the love Cherry Wine has and currently is still receiving. I never expected the song to do this much, and it truly warms my heart to see people genuinely loving and repeating the song,” expressed the Fil-Aus musician.
TWO SINGLES AND CHRISTMAS COVERS LATER
The hits would keep on coming for grentperez. His follow-up single, My Heart It Beats For You, is special for a few reasons. The track is an uplifting and warm tune that got its official release after initially being teased back in Grent’s YouTube channel in May. The song was also a collaboration between him and his fans on Twitch. “I started off by coming up with a chord progression that I liked, then moving into the writing. I just had an open floor for people to come up with certain lines that would fit, and I’d handpick them and adjust them slightly to tailor to the song.” The lines he picked composed the second verse. The community aspect is also present in the song’s music video as it is a combination of fan videos submitted all over the world. Finally, it features a section in Tagalog.
His latest original single, Clementine, is a bit different in that it’s about the darker side of love. It revolves around heartbreak and not being able to move on in a relationship. The track takes heavy inspiration from the movie Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, so much so that it is named after Kate Winslet’s character. But despite the darker theme, it still features his signature light and swaying sound. He also recently released two covers of two Christmas songs, Please Come Home for Christmas and I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Given how he is no stranger to doing covers, these are right up his wheelbarrow and does them justice.
Given his style of music, it’s no surprise to learn then that he imagines his music being played in romantic scenarios. “I believe the most ideal scenario could be two lovers sitting on a hilltop with the sun slowly fading, the wind gently brushing along while it dances around the hair, maybe it could start to get cold as they inevitably cuddle up to watch the few final minutes of the day. I’d be honored for my music to accompany a beautiful image like that.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR GRENTPEREZ
While achieving a successful single so early in one’s career is indeed impressive, it also increases expectations for future releases. But Grent doesn’t feel the constant anxiety of pressure. “I do agree that I would like to top myself; that comes from my competitive nature. But I wouldn’t say that I feel pressured. I’d like to think I write songs to be individual works, each with their own characteristics and functions. So in turn when I write I kind of shrug it off to a “Hmm! Pretty good!’”
While it has indeed become easier for people to get their name out there, it has also become harder for up-and-coming artists to sustain that recognition in a crowd of would-be musicians. For grentperez, he cites a peculiar aspect about him that he feels helps him stand out from the crowd. “My awkwardness…maybe. I think I’ve come to terms with my weirdness and awkwardness. I don’t think I have social anxiety or anything of the sort, but I believe it to be awkwardness with how I act around people or how I present myself to others. Another factor could be the style of music in general. I’d hope the mix of different genres helps me stand out, along with my tone of voice as well.”
As of now, Grent is currently hard at work wrapping up a few projects. He says that he’s set to drop a few more songs as well as two Christmas covers. Meanwhile, he’s putting on the final touches of his upcoming EP which is set to drop in the coming months. In the meantime, you can check out his YouTube channel where he posts his original works as well as covers on occasion. And if you’re looking to get into his music, Grent suggests that you check out (Only) About Love or My Heart It Beats For You, two of his personal favorites so far.
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