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Creatives On Q: Pinkbarney is simply keeping it real (and unabashed)


man in black jacket sitting on chair in front of black flat screen tv

There’s so much to unravel about this Zamboanga-based musician. For one, his name – Pinkbarney – a cheeky yet catchy name devoid of any resemblance of hip hop. Secondly, his nonchalance but oozing with confidence demeanor you can’t help but notice.

More often than not, if you’re trying to make it big out there, the last thing you would want to do is to opt for a cutesy stage name, let alone a name with a feminine touch to it. Or at least that’s what this patriarchal society is trying to tell you or conditioned us to be. However, for Pinkbarney, he’s just keeping things real. If anything, he doesn’t want to conform to what’s what and simply do the real you.

Although born in Zamboanga City, Pinkbarney or JR to his close friends is somehow a mix of two cultures. Him and his family migrated to Dubai when he was two years old and moved back to the Philippines 16 years after. But much of his music and heart belongs to his home country. He started rapping when he was 13 years old but only gained much confidence to truly engross himself in the scene when he was 15. As of now, he’s juggling his roles both as a musician and a third year BS Nursing student in Ateneo de Zamboanga University.

His stage name “Pinkbarney” is derived from his favorite color which is pink and yes, you’ve heard it right, from the famous children’s TV show character, Barney. When asked further about how Barney came into the picture, he quickly shared, “You know how Barney sings educational stuff to kids and makes them learn something out of it? Well, not all my songs are pretty much informative but that’s how I looked at it and it sounded pretty catchy to me so yeah Pinkbarney was then created.”

As of writing, Pinkbarney now has over 35,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. His newest single “Tipo Mo” has been streamed over 350,000 times on Spotify followed by “Fave” – a song from his album “piége” – with over 100,000 streams. With all these major accolades, you’d think that he has figured things out. That all it takes is to write and record one song to make people listen. For Pinkbarney, this isn’t the case. Like other musicians who are trying to make a name for themselves in the music industry, it’s a case of trial and error.

And how does he keep going despite all the setbacks? Pinkbarney has one solid advice. He said, “Don’t lose that fire if your numbers are small or gets smaller. You don’t force your audience to like you. You gotta show them what you got and show them that you’re not just likeable but you’re a musician that’s loveable and worth listening to. Keep praying and trust the process always.”

Pinkbarney spoke with The Middle Mag PH and shared with us the importance of supporting local acts, his future projects, and more.

disk, dvd woman in pink tank top

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.

As a musician, what's keeping you busy in these unprecedented times?

Well, writing lyrics and jamming with a group of mine called “Tooche Records” really gets me busy and never bored to be honest. Hitting the gym quite often but of course acads as well haha that stuff’s always gotta be there. That’s always the main priority but if I’m being honest. I’m kinda pretty dedicated with this music industry. It’s the love of music that I got that keeps me gassed up.

Who are your musical inspirations? How much of these musicians influence your work today?

I look up to artists like Rich Brian, Wiz Khalifa, MGK, Eminem and a lot of more mix of rappers that’s got a bit of R&B or singing with it. I mean I’m nowhere close to a singer but I try [laughs]. And when it comes to the culture, I listen to A LOT of Flow-G and because they really inspire me a whole lot and their music really helped me mold my style to what it is now. I still got a lot to learn and a lot of mistakes to make, but that’s just how you know you’re making progress with your craft.

Why is it important for people to support their local musicians?

Personally, I think it’s the fact that we’re from the same area or city and we local musicians are proudly representing our city/hometown without hesitations. I think it’s just pretty practical if we all give even a little helping hand towards our local creatives, not just musicians but also generally to people who really create and display their talent and passion because every aspect of what they do isn’t easy to create. But at the same time we put our whole heart to our craft for y’all to witness and to also represent our city with pride one day. Damn, could I run for Mayor now? [laughs]

What pushed you to pursue music? Are there any struggles at first? If yes, how did you get past it?

It’s mainly my close friends that I would consider my brothers and the local underground artists that strived through from nothing. From just recording from their cellphones to getting an actual proper mic just from their own hard work, the fact that anyone could do music and treat it like an actual job is amazing. Imagine doing the thing you love and people also admiring the thing that you love doing, that’s exactly what pushes me to work even harder. Struggles are inevitable no matter what you do. I had really low streams at first and really small numbers but the fact that those small numbers are people that actually listen to my songs is already enough for me to keep going. And the more people shared and supported me then the more my confidence really boosted, that’s what made me believe that being patient really helps, because if you put enough hard work, dedication, and love to your passion then one day everything will be paid off. I promise, keep your faith up and pray you know, just do the work and God will surely gonna do the rest. Now I could probably be an Imam/Preacher, right? [laughs]

woman in bikini walking on beach

If there's a song, local or international, that you wished you had written, what would it be and why?

It would probably be Eminem’s track titled “Not Afraid”, that track is literally for EVERYONE. It really inspires me and motivates me just listening to Em’s track, also one of the songs that really pushes me even more to keep going on the road that I have already chosen. If you haven’t listened to it yet then you definitely should so you’d know exactly what I’m tryna say haha.

Any misconceptions that you want to break about hip hop or rap? How are these misconceptions somehow affect the way people perceive the genre?

Well I guess now, these days rap isn’t that much of an alter-ego to music anymore. A lotta people used to call the genre “jeje” or “jejemon” or calling it a “kalye” type of thing or from the streets type of music making it look like it’s pretty dirty but nah I could completely disagree to that. And also the fact that hip-hop music has evolved now. It consists of alotta sub-genres that are actually unique and beautiful. Yes, beautiful, and by that I could give an example of songs by Kiyo or Powfu where millions of people listen to. Hip-hop music can save the generation if listened to the right songs. The lyrics could be heard extra clearer when being expressed by the artists and there are no limits to how a rapper can express himself by just having a beat and the lyrics that he wrote.

Congratulations on your over 40,000 plus monthly listeners on Spotify. Are we expecting an album soon? Or just purely singles for now?

Thank you! if there’s one thing people should know so they won’t be in the dark and to just clear it out there, monthly listeners are different to followers. Followers are stable (unless they unfollow you) while monthly listeners are based on the weekly listeners and can change depending on the streams and listeners that you have by the day which changes every 24 hours. So yeah maintaining it would be a challenge especially when there’s a lot of competition and way better artists out there. But nevertheless, as long as you love what ya doing then keep at it ya know, and for now imma be dropping one single every month. And yes, definitely soon there’ll be an album coming up. Imma keep the date a secret but yes, real soon haha.

Message to those who are still trying to make it big out there especially the budding musicians.

Don’t let nobody tell you to stop what you’re doing or even let them get into your heads. Hate is normal but it isn’t normal if you stop doing what you live most just ‘cause of the hate and negativity that will be coming around often. Hard work is always gonna be paid off and that’s given. Just gotta have faith and patience. Just keep grinding and keep that vibe up. Don’t lose that fire if your numbers are small or gets smaller. You don’t force your audience to like you. You gotta show them what you got and show them that you’re not just likable but you’re a musician that’s lovable and worth listening to. Keep praying and trust the process always.

Check out some of Pinkbarney’s songs on Spotify. And again, don’t forget to #streamlocal.

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Discover how young Mindanaon artists like Pinkbarney are doing during quarantine only on Creatives on Q

© The Middle Mag PH