Johnoy Danao, a household name for anything acoustic, love, and soul. People might have caught up on his music through online streaming, his radio guestings, or through live gigs. Ask anyone who’s heard of him and they’ll tell you about his classic, romantic sound that goes perfectly with the right choice of words that tug at anyone’s heartstrings.
In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN Lifestyle, Johnoy shares a thing or two about making music, fighting the doubts, and winning in life… more so, in music.
Johnoy recounts starting young as he used to sing and perform at his school’s intermission numbers. Now being in the music industry for nearly 15 years, what he considers the most remarkable is the beginning. “’Yon courage mo pasukin yung hindi mo alam, wala ka pang idea… kung baga, magda-dive ka sa dagat na hindi mo pa alam,” he says. As time goes by though, he mentions you gain experience that somehow equips you to take on the challenges that come your way. “Hindi naman sa dumadali pero mas alam mo na kung panong gawin.”
If Johnoy hadn’t taken the path of constant strumming of his guitar and singing tunes in front of a mic, he would have probably been an engineer or a math teacher. But over time, he has come to terms with the fact that music is the way to go. He shares, “Parang process siya eh, every day it makes me happy. So, I think that’s the point, it makes me happy.”
His favorite part about what he does though is the expression he gets through writing songs. “Kung ano man ang mangyari sa kanta mo, maging sikat ka ba or hindi, hindi na siya mag ma-matter. It’s more of secondary na lang ‘yon. Doing this itself, singing and making music, is the best part of it.” He also feels fulfilled when random strangers would message him about how his music played a significant part in their life.
His least liked part though, is when he needs to market his stuff for people. He explains, “Kailangan mo isipin yung business kase hindi ka naman magkaka-record pag walang pera diba? Minsan parang ayaw ko siyang isipin na ibenta, na parang gusto ko sanang ibigay na lang pero… hindi din talaga kaya yun."
Johnoy, serious and soulful during their 3D: Dama Concert rehearsal.
Of Danao and his doubts
From the start of Johnoy’s career up to this day, he admits to still second-guessing himself—a battle he constantly tries to win. He shares, “Pagpunta mo sa isang gig minsan, bakit dalawa lang yung tao. Pero it happens, hindi siya palagi na glimmering lights, hindi palaging spotlight.” And because he’s constantly been down that road, here are some life pointers Johnoy himself takes note of:
You can’t avoid doubts. The good thing is to see this as a challenge. “Work on your craft… whatever ‘yung ginagawa mo, pag-do-doctor, anong plano mo man sa buhay… work on it.”
Give it time. “Put some time into it, like kailangan niyo nang time. Hindi siya yung parang, ‘wow siguro sandali lang ako mag pa-practice ngayon’. Kailangan mo siyang bigyan ng oras… In order to be good at something, you have to spend time talaga.”
Nothing beats hard work. “Very cliché pero hard work ang kailangan mo sa buhay minsan talaga ‘eh. Pag dumating siya, at least alam mo na kung panong gawin… equipped ka na to surpass everything.”
"In order to be good at something, you have to spend time talaga,” he says.
There comes a time in anyone’s life when you’d stumble and get a bit wounded. You’d try to look in the mirror but even that becomes more of a challenge on some days. That’s what doubts can do to you. Has Johnoy ever thought about giving up?
“No way. Probably hanggang sa pagtanda ko, I would see myself… siguro hindi na ako kumakanta, hindi na ako tumutugtog, but still in the business making music. Alam mo ‘yon, hindi ko siya kayang pakawalan.”
Amidts the sea of uncertainties, one thing is for sure: Johnoy’s beautiful music is something we all never have to second guess about.
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Photographs by Eugene Bautista