ROBIN NIEVERA: AWAY FROM HIS PARENTS' HUGE SHADOW
[PHOTO - Robin Nievera: I don’t want to be the best at anything in the country, I just want to do my best.]
MANILA, MARCH 25, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Nathalie Tomada - Like parents, like offspring? Yes… and not quite. Robin Nievera has officially taken the musical road with the launch of his debut album Overwait, but he’s also stepping out of the shadows cast by his famous singing parents — Martin Nievera and Pops Fernandez — with a different sound and style.
At the media launch of Overwait, an all-original record released under the PolyEast label, at Rockville Bar in Timog Ave., Quezon City, Pops was beaming with pride as her firstborn was having the stage all to himself. “I’m a proud mom, I’m really, really proud of him! This is a dream come true for him. He had long worked hard for this album. And I know he put a lot of his time and energy into it and finally, it’s out,” Pops told The STAR.
“I know a lot of you are very shocked. I was listening to him perform and I told myself, wow, he really has a different music and style. When he first sang to us, I was also shocked. I thought, my gosh, this is how Robin is (when he’s singing). This is how he sounds, because he’s actually very shy. The first time I actually saw him performing was many years ago at our church. From then on, I knew that he was going to be a performer because he’s so different once he’s on stage,” Pops added.
Perhaps, for a number of us, our memory of Robin was that of a chubby boy with a mop of curly hair making brief appearances in past concerts of his parents. Now, in that image’s place is a Robin looking trimmed down, writing and singing about life, girls and future love in a voice sure and deep, and claiming he’s ready for whatever lies ahead — expectations of being the son of Martin and Pops included.
“I’ve been pressured since I was five,” Robin, 25, explained with a laugh. “So, I’m good.”
No question that his parents are an inspiration and a tough act to follow. But Robin said, “I don’t want to be the best at anything in the country, I just want to do my best.”
He also clarified that the obvious departure from the genre or the OPM ballads identified with his parents was hardly on purpose. “Not really. I could see how it could look like that. (My parents) were inspired by the musicians of their time like Kenny Loggins, Chicago, Michael Jackson, even Frank Sinatra. They were cool, they’re still cool. I listened to a lot of music, that’s why my music turned out like this. But it’s more rock-oriented, it’s loud, (because) that’s the music I grew up with,” said Robin, who counts in Dave Matthews Band, Jimi Hendrix and John Mayer as among his influences.
Robin revealed though that he tried, really tried, to deviate from the musical path that his parents have chosen. “I think I was 14 when I lied to myself. At that time, I started singing and playing in church, and I said, I’d never do this, but at the back of my head, I really wanted to do this. So I don’t know what age, or what moment in life (when I decided to pursue music), but here I am, doing this,” said Robin, who learned impressive guitar work by way of a few formal lessons but mostly through observing seasoned musicians. “With music, I like knowing this much, so other people can teach me, and I’ll learn from it and express it in my own kind of way.”
Robin doesn’t think he holds an edge over other budding music artists just because of you-know-who. “I don’t think so. My parents are Martin and Pops, I know that. It gets me a lot of doors opened, yes, but I am not the most talented person here. I’m not the best singer, I’m not the best-looking (and) I’m not the best musician. I’m lucky that I got this far with PolyEast. I’m lucky I got this far with my friends, and just having all of you talk to me now, I’m grateful for that.”
Pops, for her part, advised Robin to just seize the moment: “He has his own style and music. What I just want is appreciation for everything that’s happening to him, for him to enjoy what he’s doing right now and keep getting better.”
Friends of Robin from the music biz like fellow showbiz heir Zia Quizon, whose own musical pursuit is off to a promising start, and Spongecola frontman Yael Yuzon also came to the launch to show support.
Yael said, “Robin’s music is very sexy. I like it! It’s very organic. His guitar playing is insane. One time, when we were checking out guitars, some of which were not ‘in good working condition,’ he played this one guitar, which was beat-up already. But everyone just started watching him because he was playing this really complicated stuff. That guitar wasn’t supposed to sound right but he just made that guitar sound like an P8M guitar, (considering) he’s so young.”
Yael also gave Robin the thumbs-up for coming up with an all-original album. “I think it’s a good time to come out with all originals. People are always saying that OPM is in trouble. I mean we’re fine and everyone else is fine. Maybe CD sales are down, but it’s not the end-all of everything. There’s always a market for OPM. Filipinos love music anyway. And original music is the way to go, for me. For something to be great, you have to ‘ballsy’ in a ball-less environment and not play safe,” Yael said.
The same goes for Robin — this is the message he wants to get across. He said, “The messages of the songs are nothing different. You have love songs, feel-good songs, but the whole message of the album is more on that it’s all-original.
“People keep on saying, ‘Congrats, you wrote 10 original songs.’ But it’s nothing different and not surprising that someone can write 10 original songs. But since people keep on saying to bring OPM back, I just wanted to show people that OPM doesn’t have to sound like typical OPM songs, and that it could be any kind of music.
“And the musicians in the album — well, I wrote the part — but some of them helped me a lot with the songs, and they are all Filipinos and young. And I just wanted to be creative within and to be open with it. So, there was a lot of help from different kinds of people. And if people buy this album out of the country, let it be that Filipinos are great singers, great musicians, and we make great songs.”
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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