Music is powerful. It is all around us, providing inspiration and joy in its messages. For RB “Kidwolf” Barbaso, music is life. It is transcendental, with an undeniable influence on his journey as a person.
Growing up in a musically inclined family, the 29 year old music producer was reared on an eclectic musical diet. This allowed him to gain a deeper appreciation of the art, choosing instead to focus on its architectural structure, rather than a particular sound. “I focus on the music, the song: how it is written, how it is produced. Every genre has a story, has a soul, has a history behind it,” shares Kidwolf, “I was drawn to everything; I was like a sponge. And I'm thankful, kasi I wouldn't be who I am right now without my family's influence.”
If pressed for something more specific, however, Kidwolf admits that complexity is what resonates best with him. He gravitates towards eras where creating music was highly experimental. “I actually appreciate the 50s music. They have this really rich tone,” he shares, citing his grandfather's artists like Perry Como and Billy Holiday as those which struck a chord with him. “Back then, it was a race kung sino yung makakagawa ng pinakamadetalye na mga songs na appealing pa rin sa mga tao. The more complex the song, the better.” Another era that resonated with him were the 80s, when a slew of technologies ushered in novel ways of creating music, and artists like Toto and the Alan Parsons project played around, with gadgets like synthesizers churning out darkly exciting new sounds that then appealed deeply to the would-be musician. “Again, it was a race to find something new."
Having several family members who played instruments, it was a natural progression for the young Kidwolf to discover his own talents early on. “Self taught ako. I started playing when I was in grade school, jamming with friends, playing some covers of the popular songs and OPM,” he shares, “It was something that I love to do. I didn't really think much of it, I just did it.”
But, the road to being recognized as a professional in the music industry was long and winding for him. A resident of Dipolog, he decided to transfer to Manila for college to take up Information Technology, quitting after realizing he was bored with it. As an undergraduate with limited employment options, he applied to a BPO company, staying in the industry for four long years.
“It was okay. I learned how to earn money pero it felt empty for me because I felt that I wasn't where I am supposed to be,” he reveals. He then quit his job and funneled his savings into setting himself up for a career in music. "I bought an audio interface, I got a new guitar for myself and software and a PC.”
From there, it was an uphill struggle. With the plethora of new artists that seem to come up almost daily, it was a challenge for Kidwolf to carve out his own niche. “I lived for two years on water and pancit canton,” he reminisces. He reveals that during this period, he resolutely kept creating and uploading his songs to the SoundCloud platform, in hopes of catching the attention of a record label.
Finally, his tenacity paid off. “I kept on doing that for two to three years until one independent label in the Philippines got me. They heard some of my stuff and pinapunta nila ako,” he shares. “Before I knew it, I started working for them.”
The job offers trickled in, and Kidwolf found himself busy with a project that was pivotal to catching the attention of music labels. “I co-wrote the melody for a Sarah Geronimo song na nasali sa album nya and that's the start of it,” he relates, referring to the hit song Tayo, whose lyrics were penned by Thyro. After several other collaborations, he came across Chris Lopez and his brainchild Tarsier Records. The rest was history.
It helped that he and Chris shared the same passion and vision for the future of Filipino music. “I wanted to change how the music of the Philippines was. I wanted to influence it, na magkaroon ng a little bit of spark again. Back then, all I was hearing was remix and covers,” Kidwolf shares, “I believe in the vision na sinabi ni Chris sakin. The music we have right now has something that can make the world listen. We have the capacity to do songs that are appealing not just here in the Philippines, but in other countries.”
It may sound a little altruistic, but this is the fuel that propels Kid Wolf to keep doing what he is doing. It is therefore no big surprise that fame, for him, is a by-product of his efforts and not the ultimate objective. “If I wanna get famous, it's because I wanna be known. Get the songs out there,” he shares. “Because, as a songwriter, you want your songs to be heard. If you are someone that is being recognized by the people, it also translates to your song. Fame is a tool that you can use but it is not the goal. The goal is to have your songs touch people.”
ALSO READ: Hot Stuff: Meet The Artists Of Tarsier Records, All Set In Making OPM Rule The World!
Produced by Julia Arenas | Creative Direction by Barry Viloria | Videography by Lui Jimenez | Photography by Vyn Radovan | Makeup by BYS Cosmetics: Charlie Manapat, Maui Manalo, and CAS: Anna Patricia Andan, Noelle Tumacas, Jana Evardone, Evelyn Dischosa | Styling by Jhelo Cristobal @jhelocristobal, Tricia Ramos @TrishDenise, and Barry Viloria | Hairstyling: @VivereSalon
Shot on location at: Shot on location at Circuit Makati, Olympia, Makati City
Special Thanks to: Tricia Rodriguez of BYS Cosmetics, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Misa Ocampo of Circuit Makati, Lani Tabije-Bernal and Yanna Bromeo of Greenbulb PR, and Forever 21