We often assume that music artists know early on whether music is their calling. The few who were borne to a musically inclined family easily fuel an outsider’s notion that it’s a no-brainer because they a.) grew up around talent, b.) are convinced that music is the only thing they know, or c.) cannot see themselves doing anything else for the rest of their days.
For singer-songwriter Marion, none of these applied.
Not at first, anyway.
Those who’ve been following the 25-year-old’s career know the famous names who raised her. Her mother is Maribel “Lala” Aunor of 70s teen group Apat Na Sikat. Her father is a pianist. And her aunt happens to be the Superstar Nora Aunor, who was discovered and mentored by none other than Marion’s grandmother, Mamay Belen.
While music practically runs in her blood, it wasn’t something she took seriously. “I tried voice lessons and piano lessons several times, but I always ended up playing around,” she confesses. Even as a kid, the closest she got to being serious was when she’d be asked to perform for relatives. “During reunions, I was the one forming programs and instructing my cousins to do things for the production number.”
Moreover, her passion for writing songs didn’t kick in until high school. “I was asked to join a band. We also had this graduation songwriting contest. I didn’t know anything about songwriting but I tried it. And that’s what we ended up singing on graduation day,” she reveals.
When the time came to apply for college, Marion passed on attending Berklee College of Music in the United States to pursue Communications Technology Management at the Ateneo de Manila University. She figured the latter was a safer bet, considering how unsure she was about studying music—let alone make a career out of it.
Things changed halfway through her studies. She felt unhappy with the course, and at one point even toyed with the idea of trying out for Berklee again. But the struggle helped determine her next move. “Before I ended college, I read a book called Finding A Future That Fits. It said something like, ‘What you imagine your life to be when you wake up (is) what will really make you happy.’ (I realized) it was music,” she reflects.
And as if history decided to repeat itself, another songwriting contest opened just as she was about to graduate. Marion entered without hesitation, scoring herself a contract with Star Music in the process.
Marion spent the next four years releasing two full-length albums, writing hits for artists like Kathryn Bernardo, Alex Gonzaga, Erik Santos, Jona, and Sharon Cuneta, and producing Leila Alcasid's debut album. While she found success working with local acts, many believed that her style was better fit for an international audience. So, when fellow Star Music alum Chris Lopez (Moophs) launched Tarsier Records in August, she knew exactly who she wanted to collaborate with.
[related: In Focus: Meet Chris Lopez, The Hottie Music Producer Captaining New Label 'Tarsier Records']
Marion and the DJ already recorded a track months prior called "Electric Gold." It became the official song to promote Rachel Peters as the Philippines' representative for Miss Universe 2017. Now that she’s part of his label, Marion will likely take on a more pop meets EDM sound. She also hopes to pen songs someday for foreign artists. “I’ve been doing the artist thing for years and I feel that it's cool that I'm now trying to be a songwriter as well,” she says.
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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