A Dubai-based publication, Victor Magazine, recently included a Filipina act for its recommended Top 10 Asian albums and EPs released this year. The EP Solace by Kacee Cortes made the shortlist for its “degree of modification” on dream pop according to writer Felix Martua in his feature last October. The latter went as far as saying that “The Philippines is starting to make the case for being the coolest dream pop scene in the modern era.”
The 14-minute EP released last July contains four songs including “Stay,” which is Kacee’s most-streamed song so far. The song does capture that dreamy atmosphere, with the singer’s seemingly disembodied, beautiful voice echoing from a distance. Façade is an equally interesting track, with its demo released a month earlier quickly gaining ground in spite of its pre-master version labeling.
My good friend May Manuel, whom I first met at a live gig of my band The Pub Forties, expressed pride in Kacee’s ascent considering that her Adlib Music, described as a music house to especially guide and help younger generation musicians, is behind the EP’s production. The two other tracks in the Solace EP are “It’s Better This Way” and “Broken.”
Other Asian artists in the carefully picked list are India’s Abdon Mech, Japan rock band Tokyo, and pop ensemble I Don’t Like Mondays, Malaysian group Iqbal M., Indonesian singer-actress Lyodora, Korean boy band Monsta X, and pop-rock act The Volunteers, Thailand’s Pyra, and Singaporean songstress Tanya Chua.
Last year, Kacee came out with “Songs From My Bedroom” just half a month after the pandemic changed the ballgame for all of us. She did a ukulele-backed snippet of Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and her take of Sugarfree’s “Prom.”
Months later she followed up that with a Vol. 2, featuring a song called “Forrest Gump.” She sang in a separate single a melodic run that says “it’s okay to be sad even just for a while.”
Adlib’s objective fits in with the kind of artist Kacee Cortes is. May expounded, “Adlib is really to guide aspiring musicians about music, na huwag silang masyadong maging technical and be limited sa genre. Our group is here to help underrated musicians and bands, give a platform for their songs to be heard. It’s really to be of guidance sa mga passionate ones.”
Starting off as a summer music school, Adlib first gave free guitar lessons to young artists who can’t afford to be enrolled in music schools. It expanded from there and it led to Kacee. The writer from Victor magazine found Kacee’s rhyming skills exceptionally cool which secures her a promising future.
Recently, I spoke with a foreign music producer and the gist of our discussion embraced the apparently overkill nature of going gaga over highly achieving artists of Filipino descent but who actually grew up elsewhere, and can’t even speak Tagalog. It’s high time we focus on giving more emphasis on pure Pinoys with special talents that can excel in the international field.