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Creatives On Q: Owen Vilches keeps the light shining through his music



On his songwriting: “When it comes to my songwriting, I am very particular about the intention of my work. I always wanted to be in that specific moment of my life where I felt so much emotion and power. By doing this, I can capture real and raw moments...” Photo taken from the Owen Vilches Facebook Page

Without a doubt, Owen Vilches’ debut EP “Light” is one the best local music releases of 2020. While some up and coming local artists build up their momentum by releasing single after single in hopes to gather more audience and listeners before the major album announcement, Owen somehow refuses to go that route and just drop everything in this EP.

Quite risky especially for a budding musician like him but for Owen, this EP is one way for him to express his craft and authenticity, and to save himself from the distress brought by the current situation.

Owen Vilches proudly hails from General Santos City. A person of many things suffice to say — singer and songwriter, music producer, and a visual artist. Although new to the local music scene, this proudly queer artist has achieved so much already. As a matter of fact, the “Light” EP now has over 600,000 combined streams on Spotify. And believe it or not, he also produces and directs all his music videos. Talk about a hard-working and multi-talented musician.

“When it comes to my songwriting, I am very particular about the intention of my work. I always wanted to be in that specific moment of my life where I felt so much emotion and power. By doing this, I can capture real and raw moments,” Vilches shared when asked about his songwriting and creative process. He further added, “I know I’m writing a good song whenever I see a vision of love in my mind and if it takes me to a journey. Every time I’m recording a song, I always prepare myself vocally and physically by doing my everyday vocal workouts and exercise. I always prepare so I’ll be more warmed up and also to save time when recording.”

When asked about his upcoming projects for this year, Owen just simply replied that he is cooking something very exciting. Could it be a full-length album? Another EP? We don’t know for sure. However, Owen teased that he wants to explore “other forms of love” and that “expect something new when it comes to my sound and visuals.”

The Middle Mag PH caught up with Owen Vilches to talk about music, on how to strike a balance between passion and practicality, what’s keeping him busy, and more.

Creatives on Q by The Middle Mag PH is a special feature story that documents and highlights the creative process and plight of the young emerging artists in Mindanao while in community quarantine. The creatives industry, among other sectors, has also been adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

How is 2021 so far for you?

Last year has been a year of struggles, tears, and heartbreaks for most of us. For this year, I see 2021 will be full of hope. Now, I appreciate small wins, success, and triumph. I know that not everyone’s journey in reaching a goal will not be the same, and that’s okay! It isn’t something that is supposed to happen overnight, but appreciating any win “big or small” will provide some of the momentum I need. Hopefully this year will be better when it comes to opportunities, spiritual, mental, and financial growth for everyone.

What’s keeping you occupied these days?

I am the type of person who likes to schedule my work and plan it ahead of time. I wanted to balance as much as possible. I really make sure that I am able to accomplish my daily goals but at the same time still enjoying life. If I’m not producing or writing music, I watch documentaries or movies to relax my mind and be entertained at the same time. I also have a regular live stream where I perform my songs, talk about my journey, and do some fun activities. Through this, I am able to meet new people not just here in the country but also around the world.

How do you keep your mental health in check?

I always prioritize my mental health by maintaining a work-life balance. I always practice a good lifestyle habit. I work out and work productively. I also write down what I feel whether it’s sad, happy or scary. Just like my album Light, all of the songs there has been really helpful with my mental health. Every time I feel sad or insecure, I always listen to that album. It helped me so much in appreciating myself more and knowing that I am worthy and I must not lose hope because better days are coming.

Have you always wanted to become a musician? What’s the turning point in your life that made you decide to venture into music?

When I was 8, I told myself that I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to act, sing, and make music. I wanted to showcase and empower people. Unfortunately, I was discouraged by other people to pursue arts while I’m growing up. It has never been easy pursuing an artistic career because many people doubted and even rejected me. I’ve got friends who laughed at me and people who are waiting for me to go down. But it never stopped me from pursuing it. I love art so I joined a choral group when I was young and honed my acting skills by joining a theater group. Through these opportunities, I was able to develop my self-confidence.

Fast forward to 2016, I had a chance to practice my talent in acting by doing small roles for TV and Films. I’ve met so many friends in the industry. I’ve also gained people who has the same passion as I have. I also got the chance to be a segment host for an international show. It was fun doing those but I was always asking myself, “What do I really want and where do I wanna go?” I wanna be a musician. I wanna write and make music so I decided to gather all my compositions and finally started by making an EP. In 2020, I released my first-ever EP called Light. It was really life-changing because making music is really my way of survival. It made me a better person. It taught me to be kinder to myself and be more empathetic to other people.

Where do you see Mindanaoan modern music years from now? Do you see it thrive in the future?

I believe that Mindanaoan music will be known not just here in the Philippines, but also around the globe. I have so much trust with the talents we have. I always wanted to see more artists creating their own art and expressing what they feel. I can see so much passion and drive in our Mindanaoan artists. Like me, I am very passionate and dedicated to the arts. I always wanted to create more and be more. I want the world to see that we can make a difference and make a mark in this world.

On being a queer artist, Owen Vilches had this to say: "I wanted to focus on representing the community by showcasing what we are capable of doing. We are visionaries, we are unique and we think differently." Photo taken from the Owen Vilches Facebook Page

How do you find a balance between practicality and passion? What do you do to make sure these two coincide?

Balancing for me is really important between practicality and passion. I have to be honest, when I started out into music it wasn’t a world full of rainbows. There are days that I have to compromise everything. I know that I may not be able to perfectly align my goal immediately but I did my best to get as close as I can to achieving it. For now, I just have to trust myself that I can work my way up.

Now, I am doing music and already put out my own merchandise. One way or another I am able to do what I want. So right now, I have to keep making music and continue the magic I started.

What’s the best part of being a queer artist in a local music scene? How’s the experience so far?

One of the best parts of being a queer artist in the local music scene is that I can express myself without limiting my creative choices. I am able to use my platform to raise awareness like mental health and gender equality. I wanted to focus on representing the community by showcasing what we are capable of doing. We are visionaries, we are unique and we think differently. Some people may not believe in us but I know if we show them that we are genuine then right people will listen and pay attention.

How do you handle constructive criticisms?

I handle them by evaluating the critics’ intention because I believe that no one is perfect and knowing the intention of the critic will help me understand if that person is really concerned or wanted to bring out the best in me. I also analyze the criticism itself if I can learn something from it. I always tell myself that growth is really important not just for my career but also for my personal development.

Discover how young Mindanaon artists like Owen Vilches are doing during the pandemic only on Creatives on Q.

© The Middle Mag PH