Singer and songwriter Rob Deniel may be an old soul, his music is fresh, but it gives so much of a retro vibe. Not to mention that he’s only 19 and yet, he has already written songs most seasoned songwriters would even wish to be the one to have created them.
“I’m not an affectionate person so I use music as my outlet to express my deep emotions. Mahiyain ako. Duon ko lang nabibigay yung full emotions ko. So, I feel that my emotions don’t go to waste because I’m able to channel through my songs,” the Viva artist told Manila Standard Entertainment.
Rob admitted that old music was “not my thing before.” In fact, he grew up listening to hip-hop and R&B.
“My group of friends in high school was all in that kind of genre. So naturally, ganun din ang pakikinggan ko,” he stated, “But when I started writing and trying to find inspiration, my parents introduced me to Manila Sound. And I guess that was the start.”
Rob describes his music as retro pop and alternative pop, and lists Rico J. Puno, Rey Valera, Apo Hiking Society, and Hotdog as his musical influences, which is why despite being young blood, his music transcends generations.
But just like other teenagers, Rob is on TikTok. No, he’s not doing the latest dance challenge, though we won’t hold it against the teen music writer if he did. He is on the platform because one of his songs is surging on the trending list.
A mid-tempo power ballad, “Gabi” was released back in 2020 around the same time his first smash hit “Ulap” started getting noticed.
Fast-forward to January 2022, “Gabi” is starting to get the attention it deserves. And like most things that are trending in music these days, the song is heating up over at the short-form video sharing platform.
Asked what he thinks of it, Rob said, “I think it’s only now that people are getting around to liking the song.” He added, “I guess, listeners are only now relating to the song.”
Exactly how it “relates” is how listeners have been using the song on TikTok. TikTokers have been using “Gabi” as a soundtrack to their videos as they drive about the city at night, or while they take a picturesque video of the moonlight by their window, or just being plain nostalgic about night outs with friends and such.
“People have the right idea about the song,” said Rob, adding “when I wrote the song about two years ago, I was thinking about the feeling of longing for someone to be with.”
Perhaps it’s the overall feeling of not being able to go out and be with people as much as we all want to that’s connecting “Gabi” with people. Or at least for those who use “Gabi” on TikTok, it’s their means to convey the feeling of, as Rob said, “longing to be someone to be with.”
So, does Rob Deniel, branded to be one of the shining lights of retro-pop-inspired songwriting, use that much TikTok himself? “Yeah, I do,” said Rob (in Tagalog).
“TikTok is more our generation, the same way Facebook is for my parents. I use it to share my music. We’re actually lucky to have this kasi we can reach out to my listeners, especially during these times. And if they feel they can relate to my song, then, by all means, express it and use it as they see fit. I also enjoy seeing how they use “Gabi” on TikTok.
The ‘60s inspired, retro-flavored sounds of Rob Deniel can be heard on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music. His most recent single is called “Diwa.”