The Beat Manila’s Up-and-Coming Artist: Singer-songwriter Lucas Miguel
November 18, 2023
The Beat Manila’s Up and Coming is a special series where we feature rising talented artists from the Philippines, giving them a platform to share what they’re passionate about and to promote the music they (and us too!) would love for the world to hear. Do you want or know someone who wants to be featured? Email us at [email protected] or slide through our DMs on Facebook or Instagram!
Hailing from Quezon City, Lucas Miguel is currently a second-year Fine Arts student at the University of the Philippines Diliman. In the midst of what others might call a "boring" period during the pandemic, Lucas emerged as a singer-songwriter, etching his name into the music scene.
The 20-year-old singer-songwriter described this period as his creative playground that allowed him to refine and elevate his musical talent, weathering the pandemic’s storm by jotting down lyrics and producing music.
The Beat Asia caught up with Lucas Miguel who graciously shared his musical journey, from discovering his unique sound to getting inspiration for his evocative songs about love, heartbreak, and beyond.
Can you describe your creative process when writing songs, and how do you find inspiration for your lyrics and melodies?
Nung umpisa kasi I am able to write songs within like a week, tapos tuloy-tuloy na siya. It’s the same case now pero it’s not as frequent. Before kaya ko every week may kanta na ‘ko. Pero ngayon parang hinihintay ko na lang ‘yung flow, kasi usually when I write songs that are forced, parang ‘pag pinipiga ko talaga siya, it does not come up as good kapag pilit.
(In the beginning, I was able to write songs pretty quickly, like once a week. It’s the same case now, but it's not as often. Before, I could churn out a song every week. But these days, I wait for the inspiration to hit. When I force it, the songs don't turn out as good.)
I just kind of wait for it to come out, and you know, just let it flow. Process-wise, I start out with the music first, I start out with the production first, and then I write.
Among the songs that you produced or written, which of them do you feel proud of the most and why?
I think the safest answer is the most famous one, “Makasama.” Siya ‘yung first kong successful song, siya ‘yung unang mainstream ko, siya ‘yung parang very widely received.
(I think the safest answer is my most famous song, "Makasama." It was my first big success, the one that got mainstream attention, and was well-received.)
But in a sense, I don’t think I can sum up my whole creative identity toward that song. It’s just more of, that’s the song that kind of put me on the map but there are more songs coming that will make me proud.
In a world filled with various music genres and styles, how do you define your unique sound and artistic identity?
It’s a good question. I think, for me, defining who I am as an individual is still a long work in progress. I have been doing this for almost, I think, two years now. Despite how long it is, it doesn’t take long for somebody to really figure out who they are artistically. I think my music is always evolving.
There’s always going to be something different to put out. I think that’s what defines me as an artist, I don’t stick to one thing. There’s always going to be something I want to try and explore sonically [and] musically. I kind of listen to a lot of genres; I do love writing about love and heartbreak, and all that. It’s very common to write about that, but I plan on experimenting with writing about more specific, less common stuff. I guess, I could really say that I’m fully fleshed out as an artist, [as] there’s always going to be something new to find within myself.
As a young artist, what steps do you take to continuously develop and refine your vocal skills and stage presence?
I think practice is always the right answer to that.
I still have to practice how to sing because nga galing ako sa pandemic. Nagsimula ako sa pagsusulat ng kanta, hindi ako nagsimula sa performing.
(I still have to practice how to sing because I began [as a singer] during the pandemic. I began writing songs during the pandemic; I didn't start as a performer.)
[For] stage presence, I am still figuring that out, but for the most part, I just try to be myself. Unless there’s a character you want to portray for your art, there’s really no other way but to be yourself in front of people on the stage you’re performing.
Can you share a moment in your journey where you faced self-doubt or adversity? How did you overcome it, and what did you learn from the experience?
Actually, self-doubt is one of the things that will haunt you as an artist all the time.
Kung wala kang ganu’n, ewan ko, parang there’s something you’re doing wrong kasi to question your art is to improve it. In my case, every release ko may self-questioning ako, may self-doubt on whether this could be a good song.
(If you don't have [self-doubt], I don't know, it's like there's something you're doing wrong because to question your art is to improve it. In my case, with every release, I question myself. I have self-doubt about whether this could be a good song.)
It’s part of the process, it’s part of what it’s like to be an artist, not only in music. But if you’re a painter, a writer, or whatever you are, if you are dealing with art, there’s always going to be self-doubt. Because what stems from self-doubt is “Will it be accepted by people?” If you are making true art, which really comes from the heart, you will tend to be vulnerable towards it and there’s going to be that sense of fear that “Will people accept me? Will people accept my art? Will it be good enough for them?” It goes for everyone, every single artist. That’s something you can’t avoid, that’s really part of it.
Yeah, there is always room for improvement, but you shouldn’t let it stop you [because] I know a lot of people who don’t put out their art because of how much their self-doubt overshadows their art. It’s really a balance of courage to be vulnerable. Self-doubt is the absence of courage when it comes to art.
Do you have someone who helps you write and produce music?
For the most part, ako (me). I have written with other people before, like Kim Dunjill. He’s a friend of mine and he’s studying Filipino education, I believe. We’ve written a couple of songs before, kasabay ko lang siya tapos nakitulong siya. I consider him a co-writer na din. Other than that, ako lang mag-isa. (We’ve written a couple of songs before, then he helped [me]. I consider him a co-writer, as well. Other than that, it's just me.)
Production-wise, my producer for the past couple of songs is Gian Carlos Salazar. He produced “Makasama” at lahat ng (and all of the) Tagalog songs.
Many singers have rituals or practices to prepare for performances. Can you share any unique or personal routine that helps you get into the right mindset before a show?
Wala naman. Nanunuod lang ako ng TikTok, chill lang. Siguro, kumain. (Nothing much. I just watch TikTok videos, relax, and maybe grab a snack.) I try not to talk or use my voice before any performance. I don’t think I’ve been performing long enough to have one.
As a young and rising artist, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are just starting their musical journey?
‘Wag kayong matakot kung wala masyado makikinig sa umpisa. (Don't worry if others don't pay much attention to your song in the beginning.)
Don’t let the numbers dictate the worth of your songs and music. And put yourself out there, you need to socialize, network, and find friends — find people who connect with you. It’s very hard to make art without people supporting you unless you just make art for yourself.
I suggest you share it with friends and make more friends, not for the sole purpose of selfish intent, it’s more of creating a community of some sort of artistic support system. Maybe, you can ask them for their input, just don’t forget to socialize.
Once your friends start supporting you, you’ll have more courage to put more stuff out there.
That’s how I started. Sa umpisa para sa mga kaibigan ko lang, then I started to share with other people. I see a lot of new artists creating music pero hindi nila masyado shini-share parang sayang.
(That’s how I started. At first, I just shared [my music] with friends, then I started to share with other people. I see a lot of new artists creating music, but they don't share that much. [I feel like] it's a waste.)
Continue to share your songs and don’t worry about the numbers.
Collaborations can be transformative for artists. Is there a dream collaboration you envision, and what kind of song do you think you could create together?
Actually, my dream collaboration is with Juan Karlos (Labajo). There are no foreseeable songs that I can think of with regard to hypothetically collaborating with Juan Karlos. I just idolize him; he’s a good songwriter, sobrang damang-dama mo ‘yung kanta sa boses nya. (His voice really brings out the emotions in the song.) It would be really great if there would be a chance to collaborate and learn from him.
What’s next for Lucas Miguel? Any upcoming music?
I put out a song called “Honest” on Oct. 20. It’s about basically being avoidant, like somebody who wants to be part of something great, to be part of something intimate. To be able to give love and receive love, but you just can’t seem to do it. It's like they have never been in a healthy relationship; “Honest” is about that.
It’s a little different from the past couple of songs that I’ve been releasing, but this is a new direction for me. I have a lot of stuff in plan, but that’s probably the thing I could announce.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. To know more about Lucas Miguel, follow him on Instagram and Facebook. You can also stream his music on Spotify and other music streaming platforms or watch his videos on YouTube.
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