With the release of its 2018 studio album, “Umaga,” the pop-rock group The Juans enjoyed a major breakthrough, scoring one hit song after another, including “Hindi Tayo Pwede,” which has been streamed more than 170 million times on YouTube and Spotify.
And truth be told: In the age of streaming, the name of the game is numbers. But that doesn’t mean the band is about to spend the rest of its career chasing after statistics or trying to break its previous records.
“Numbers are important; clients look at numbers. We’re not downplaying their value. But at the same time, we’re not dictated by them. Our creations aren’t driven by a desire to get huge numbers … They’re not the reason we write music,” frontman Carl Guevarra said in a video conference for “Dulo,” the kicker single of the band’s campaign for its upcoming album for Viva Music. The main goal is to put out relatable songs that allow people to process feelings they can’t explain and express things left unsaid. Streaming success is a bonus.
“When your values are clear, it’s easy to make decisions and figure out where you should focus your energy. And in our case, we just want to reach our fans and everyday Filipinos through our music. Knowing that listeners can relate to our songs is a victory, whether or not the numbers reflect that,” he said. “We can sleep in peace even if only a hundred people listened to our songs.”
And the motivation to uplift others has never been greater during the pandemic. “More than fame and recognition, we want to inspire every ‘Juan’ to keep on believing at a time when our dreams are put to a halt,” said Carl who also wrote the hits “Hatid” and “Itutulog Na Lang.”
“Dulo” is a soft-rock ballad that explores the idea that new beginnings come from other beginnings’ end.
“A couple enters a relationship together, but usually, one of them reaches the end first. And the song comes from the perspective of a person who has reached the finish line. Should he end the relationship now that he’s seeing the end? Should he wait for the other to catch up. We sing about the internal conflict and struggles,” Carl explained.
Starring actors Kokoy de Santos and Krissha Viaje, the single’s accompanying music video has a short-film vibe and was directed by Carl himself. “It was inspired partly by a personal experience, which had me crying on NLEx (North Luzon Expressway) as I let go of things that aren’t healthy for me anymore,” he said. “Kokoy is a longtime friend. We appreciated how he made time for us despite the restrictions and his schedule.”
From writing to promotion, “Dulo” is The Juans through and through.
“We’re blessed to have a management that gives us creative freedom, from conception to execution … even the art cards. They let us decide what we want people to see … We recorded, mixed and mastered the song. We want to be involved every step of the way,” said Carl, who’s joined by guitarists Japs Mendoza and RJ Cruz, bassist Chael Adriano, and drummer Joshua Coronel.
As disheartening the current absence of live shows is, the band chooses to see the setback as an opportunity to grow and rise to the occasion. “What’s certain is that things are going to change in the near future, so we have to move and evolve fast. So, now is the time to rise up and adjust,” Carl said.
Back to basics
Fortunately, the start of lockdowns coincided with the completion of the band’s own studio. “When the live scene stopped, we figured that we would just spend the rest of the lockdown creating new music. We would do nothing but write, shoot and edit videos and post content on our social media pages. We dedicated our energies into innovating and figuring out ways to stay visible and connected to our audience,” Carl said.
The band’s dynamics aren’t always smooth. “Creative misalignments” are inevitable. And when that happens, the members go back to basics.
“We all played music in church. We’re friends first before workmates. The relationship was there before the responsibilities and challenges that go with running a band. We try to remember why we’re here in the first place—we all just want to make music,” Carl said. “We’re hardworking. We’re trained to be excellent even if no one’s watching us and even if we get nothing in return,” he added. “When you find the right people … people you’re meant to be with, good things happen.” INQ
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