Songwriting

“The best way to affect people is to be authentic to myself first”


In March, Reese Lansangan sent her fans on an adventure. The Filipino singer-songwriter had released the first taste of his highly anticipated second album – except it was locked behind a password-protected website. It took NME a good half hour playing with a series of phrases, trying to crack the code – a code that many diehards had already understood, they happily sang on social media.

After several other tips and tests, the site finally opens. “Thanks for spending time,” the landing page begins. Then a letter from Lansangan: “Dear friend, well, it took a long time, didn’t it? It’s both a note of sympathy and an ironic acknowledgment of the time it took for him to release a new album. It’s been six years since ‘Arigato Internet’: his largely acoustic debut album, consisting of 11 tracks, brimming with humor and intelligent lyricism that fans have come to know and love Lansangan for.

In the letter, she admits to being plagued by “anxiety and self-doubt” while “creating something that I loved and that others would resonate with.” She showed up to create the good days, and the bad days, allowed herself to stop, rest and play. This last cycle, underlines the singer-songwriter, was “time well spent” – which is also the title of his new album.

By the time you read this, ‘Time Well Spent’ will be in the world. Talk with NME on Zoom before release, while the record is under control, the 30-year-old artist reiterates that the road to “Time Well Spent” has not been spent strolling, but eliminating self-imposed pressures.

“I was rushing because of the expectations I had placed [on myself], even though no one was asking “Hey, where’s your second album?” “Because everyone is too busy minding their own business,” she said. “At the end of the day, I make music for myself, but the by-product is that I make music for others. And I take this responsibility seriously. She adds, “I think the best way to affect people is to be genuine to myself first.”

This sincerity is manifested in the launch of Lansangan’s album through Swiftian’s attention to detail, from leaving album previews on password-protected sites to deliberating on the record title itself. even. “Time Well Spent” might not be as fast as “Arigato, Internet” or “Of Sound Mind And Memory,” but “it feels genuine to me,” she says. “A mantra or a reminder. It really reflects the journey I had to take to be here.

“The by-product of making music for myself is making music for others. I take this responsibility seriously.”

To paint a picture of Lansangan’s musical journey is to go back to 2013, two years before the release of “Arigato, Internet”. She had made the cut at Elements Music Camp, that famous songwriting retreat led by legendary composer Ryan Cayabyab (other famous alumni include Ben & Ben and Clara Benin). A Lansangan on guitar auditioned with “A Song About Space” – the same catchy tune that NASA took up years later for its #LaunchAmerica 2020 Campaign – and veterans of training camp music were the first to emerge from his ingenuity. This placed her in this year’s Top 10 Mentor Pick list – a milestone for the Quezon City songwriter, who at the time only viewed music as a hobby.

“I guess it gave me the validation that the people I loved like Mr. C – people who are great songwriters – think my stuff is worth something,” she says. “Before Elements, I just wanted to burn a CD of original songs I recorded on GarageBand and give it away for free. . After that, I was encouraged to release an album.

Credit: Shaira Luna

Lansangan kept busy in the years following that fateful training camp and “Arigato, Internet”, playing music that prompted creative exploration and play. You can hear it in the single ” Islands, ”an unusually loungey track so sultry you can hear orgasmic cooing in the background (“ The production really dresses a song, ”she says). Lansangan continues to write from experience and “strives to sing something that is not 100% true”.

This self-awareness led to the release of “Playing Pretend In The Interim,” last year’s five-track EP populated by fictional characters, including an encyclopedia vendor. “I always write about myself,” she says, “I wanted to be free to weave fact and fiction together, and I want to keep reviewing this exercise.”

On “Time Well Spent”, the route taken by Lansangan is neither overtly experimental nor hyper-specific. The first single, ‘What Is This Feeling?’, Is an outpouring of happiness, without clever punchlines: “I can feel the change in me… / I have never felt so free / I can feel it inside / It beats in my chest / It crawls out of every open wound on my flesh. “She wrote the song in 2018 at the end of a particularly difficult time, embracing the” feeling of freedom when you go through a dark stage. “

“I guess in a biblical sense you know how they say I have to share the gospel? Back then it was like that, ”she says. “I was filled with so much joy and inspiration that I just wanted to proclaim it. And it’s a reminder that you will get there too. Although if you are in the dark and you hear this you will say “ugh” to yourself, she rolls her eyes and bursts out laughing. . “But it will come, it’s a cycle.”

“The distance between my starting point and the one where I am now seems great to me, but I have filled in the gaps throughout”

In contrast, the second single “Orbiting” vibrates with grief, confronting the ghost of lost unrequited love. . “I can tap into emotions that are not fresh,” Lansangan explains. “I thought about this person, then I went home and wrote on a piano. And that was the final act, my last offering. I wanted to write about it and be done.

“Orbiting” was the song that took Lansangan the longest to write, as she kept revising it, much like the other slow tracks on the album. “It can be frustrating to write a song and know it’s not finished. You want to fix it right away, but you have to go through other things before you get the answer, ”she says. “And then there are some magical moments where it’s like ‘Wow, here’s the missing piece’.”

It is no coincidence that the two singles, released ahead of the album, are the perfect antipodes. “I gave you maximum emotions at opposite ends of the spectrum and everything else on the album is in the middle,” she says. “They vary in mood and tone, but mostly embody growing in your own, new beginnings, but also healing, introspection, and taking time to come inside yourself. “

These moods include self-doubt, Lansangan acknowledges. “A lot of my personal insecurities were really reflected in this album because that was what I was really going through at the time.” But ‘Time Well Spent’ still has room for fantasy and play. “There’s still a good chunk of hair that freaks out and feels good. I have two reminiscent of “Arigato, Internet” in terms of kulit [playfulness]. But he’s not shy, he just has an attitude. I guess it’s a natural progression of the “quirky vibe” that I was comfortable with.

On the threshold of her second album, Lansangan is proud of her musical growth and the progress she has traveled. “I guess the distance from where I started to where I am now seems wide, but I filled in the gaps all along so it doesn’t look abnormal,” she says. “I’m more comfortable, I guess, saying it as it is rather than approaching it with humor and lightness. I think that maybe reflected here.

Reese Lansangan’s “Time Well Spent” released



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