MNL Online’s Best Bet for 2016: Paolo Mallari
Growing up with the music of The Beatles, John Mayer, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Queen and Thirty Seconds To Mars, Paolo Mallari is a passionate 22-year-old talented singer-songwriter who hails from Imus, Cavite. His fresh, heartfelt and soulful acumen for music comes from his passion for indie, folk, and country music which he mixes into a soulful blend of nostalgia that is refreshing and rarely heard of in the present-day local music scene. An emerging one-of-a-kind talent who impresses his audience as being humble as a butterfly but as potent as a bee, he is our big bet for music stardom this 2016.
Can you tell me about the good life… what are you most excited about?
The good life? Huh… Well, I’m excited about the album I’m writing and recording right now. You can really call it “DIY” because I’m doing the record myself, no producer/s, no label/s and all will be recorded in my home studio. Hehe. It’s a learning process, to mix and produce music. That is what I’m excited about, my first record (album). [ Smiles. ]
Tell us more about your song “I Cant”.
My song “I Can’t” was written during my college days, 2013 to be exact. The main inspiration of the song is my close friend who was always ranting about his girlfriend back then. [ Laughs. ] It’s about women who control their men. Too cheesy but yeah, it happens to some relationship. Click here to listen to the song.
And the inspiration behind the song “Why Oh You”?
Technically, “Why Oh You” isn’t a new song. It was actually the first song I’ve ever written. I was 17 years old when I wrote it. I was challenged by a friend to write a song cause all I did was make covers. “Why Oh You” was actually the discovery to my songwriting passion, I just re-recorded and released it this year. [ Smiles. ]
When did you first start singing? Was it always your ambition to work in music?
I first started singing when I was 17. From sixth grade til second year college I was just a guitarist in a band and didn’t have the guts to sing, even when I was alone learning a song with a guitar. My dream was to be the best guitar player in our school. [ Laughs. ] I was never confident singing in public, because my vocal range is really limited. Then I discovered songwriting and it pushed me to sing in public, because I didn’t have to sound like any other singer, or do what they can do. My first ambition was to be a graphic artist/designer but then I got really intimidated by my college classmates. I was lost that time because I wasn’t doing any good in class. So I went back to my first love. Music.
When did you decide that you wanted to release music as an artist, or was that always on the cards?
I decided that I want to release music during my last year in college. I wanted to be different, and music was the only thing that made sense to me. It still is. I want to do it forever. [ Smiles. ]
Do you remember the first song that you wrote?
“Why Oh You.” [ Smiles. ]
How would you describe yourself as a musician in one sentence?
My music is honest and passionate.
Singing or writing? Explain to us how you feel about each.
Huh. That’s a hard question. If I can only sing but not write, then I prefer not to sing at all. I would stick to playing the guitar. That’s me. I want to sing a song if I wrote it, because it means something to me. I’m no narcissist but I really want to express myself truthfully to an audience or even just to myself.
What’s your favorite song you’ve ever written?
That would be “Skyline”. It’s not about the car! [ Laughs. ] The song is about second chances in relationships. Woah. Cheesy right? Even though the song has only two chords, I was challenged to arrange it properly so it wouldn’t sound monotonous. It will also be included in the album.
Who would you cite as your key musical inspiration as an artist?
A lot! The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Queen, John Lennon, 30 Seconds to Mars, and John Mayer.
How would you describe your signature sound to someone who hasn’t heard you yet?
Another hard question. [ Laughs. ] Hmm… Blues? I’m not so sure about my genre, because I’m still in the process of discovering my sound. But yeah I like putting bluesy riffs, guitar solos on my songs. Hehehe.
Do you recall your first concert gig experience? What do you remember about your first gig/tour?
Yup! How can I forget!? Hehe. It was August 2014. I was asked to open for Barbie Almalbis and The Itchyworms at The 70’s Bistro. It was really nerve-wracking not because it was my first gig, but because my “idols” were there, the artists I look up to since I was in grade school. So yeah! What a line-up!
What have you learned about yourself lately? Has it been a (new) discovery or a rediscovery process at all?
I learned that in everything you do, any career you’re into, you really have to be passionate about it. And it’s not just all about passion; it’s about staying true to yourself, to your talent and skill. You should learn to appreciate yourself in order to be appreciated by your audience.
Aside from making music, which/what other activities make you lose track of time?
I’m also into cooking, building stuff (like wiring, etc.). [ Laughs. ] I know it’s weird. I like reading and watching tutorials (DIY STUFF). I’m also into photography. I love going to the beach and just chill.
What was the last thing that really made you laugh?
When I was watching Friends (TV Series). I just saw the episode where Pheobe pretended she was pregnant and Joey proposed to her. [ Laughs. ]
Music’s most common thread focuses on life and loss. Can you give us your perspective on each? And why they are important to each other?
True. I think it’s because music is an expression. Music is a language, it communicates, it touches our hearts, people relate to it. Life and loss are important to each other because like what I said, people relate to it. It’s what majority of the people/listeners experience.
Any tips you can share with aspiring musicians out there – what do you usually do to warm up and maintain your voice?
Oh, about that. I pretty much don’t follow the things “singers” should do or shouldn’t do. I’m a coffee addict and a huge fan of beer. [ Laughs. ] But I would always get myself a cup of ginger tea (salabat) before, during and after rehearsals. Hehehe.
What kind of music did you hear the most growing up? How does it differ from what you listen to now?
Actually, when I was growing up, I was exposed to different genres of music. My grandparents would listen to 60’s and 70s’ music like The Carpenters, The Beatles, Neil Young, etc. My mom, my uncle and my aunt would listen to 80s music like The Cure, New Order, China Crisis (basically the new wave era).
During my childhood I was really into 90’s up to Early 2000 artists like Eraserheads, Rivermaya, Nirvana, Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, Duncan Sheik, Alanis Morissette, John Mayer. Then I came back and did a lot of research from the roots music like Bob Dylan, BB King, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc. Now, I listen to everything, every genre, whether it’s pop or mainstream, even hip-hop. I appreciate all kinds of music because it moves me and keeps me motivated to write my own music.
So far, what was the most memorable concert/festival/tour you’ve ever played?
My most memorable gig was the Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival. I didn’t expect to be invited to play there because it is an international event. It was really memorable as it was my first time to perform for a big crowd. Plus we got to watch international artists.
What do you usually do when you are not “working”? How do you spend your free time?
I usually spend my free time watching TV series and inspirational movies. I also love traveling and eating! [ Laughs. ]
Did you ever practice singing in front of a mirror?
No! But I do sing during shower. [ Laughs. ]
What are you most proud of? I mean when it’s all said and done, how would you like to be remembered? And what kind of legacy would you like to leave?
I am most proud of the passion I have for music. Obviously. Hehehe. I’m the kind of musician who wants to give more to the audience, whether I’m paid or not. I just push myself when I perform. I don’t care how many people are watching. In a huge crowd or a small room, it doesn’t make any difference to me. I just do my best and roll the dice.. Hmm… The legacy that I would like to leave? Uhm… I would like to be known as the musician who wants to push and inspire every artist to be good in the craft they want to pursue. It doesn’t matter how much your instrument costs. You should learn to make the most out of it and master the skill you’re aiming for. May kasabihan nga sa tagalog, “nasa indian yan, wala sa pana”. [ Smiles. ]
What do you wish people think of when they hear Paolo Mallari?
I want people to think of me as a musician who is humble but aggressive when playing on a stage. I want the audience to know that every chord, note, melody or lyric I do, it is made with an honest emotion, that’s not forced to be liked, but intended to make a connection that can serve as an inspiration.