Even in this age of interconnectivity and technology-driven work, tossing a story of a hit song recorded via just a smartphone still sounds like a fictional plot.
Yet, that is exactly what happened to Rob Deniel whose breakthrough single “Ulap” became a smash hit as the pandemic surged last year. A meticulous musician may find his recording crude and wanting. But who cares; the song, labeled “bedroom jazz” by who else but the 17-year-old dude himself, has already amassed more than 22 million streams on Spotify as of this writing, with its lyric video uploaded eight months ago by SuperbLyrics YouTube channel generating the same gigantic number for its view count.
Perhaps he’s a famous face or the son of a media mogul. Nope. He was unknown and wrote “Ulap” “out of boredom” in his room designed with proper acoustics and adorned with a Beatles poster.
“I was just writing words that I wanted to say. You could say that the whole song was made subconsciously,” he said of his unexpected hit eventually used in Vivamax series Parang Kayo Pero Hindi.
In my interview with him, I mused that he should keep that phone where he recorded the song that introduced him to music fans and proved that his father made a wise decision giving him a guitar as a gift when he was 12. Previously Rob wanted to be a basketball player. “Ulap” became that big shot for the win.
The track was released on Sept. 13, 2020, or six months after the pandemic turned things weirder and more uncertain. A week before that his actual debut called “Baby I Tried,” which sounded like a throwback tune was dropped in digital stores. That same month came a third single titled “Gabi.” Such pacing further reflected Rob’s natural flair for doing things raw and quick. It certainly worked for him.
“The support from my family and the people who have listened to my songs really do help in keeping my good mental state,” Rob implied, showing again that music as an outlet is not a bad way of dealing with this pandemic, especially for a person who must be missing the all-out parties and youth gatherings this global situation can’t yet afford to allow.
The surprise hit teen’s most recent single “Ang Rosas” is currently making the rounds of what is dubbed as “chill and feels” playlist circuit. A new single titled “Darling, Darling” will be released next week. He said that it is a track serving as “an advice for myself and about the experiences I’ve had so far.”
Well, Rob has always kept himself busy learning more about music and internalizing things so he has much to dig from. He’s a multi-instrumentalist playing guitar, drums and keyboards.
Viva Records had come to his aid and informed industry people that he was given the floor to “write his songs and not get in his way.”
Oh, that meant nobody’s taking the hit-making phone of this boy in cloud nine.
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