By Mariel Abanes
Something as simple as UNIQUE trading his round glasses for a new pair of specs tells us that there's a lot of new things to come for the fresh solo artist. Not to mention, the mind-boggling fact that he's foregone shoes and opted to go barefoot seems to tell us that he's shedding a part of himself. Though, we may never be sure about the rationale behind his decision to do so as he elusively dodges the question with a nonchalant "Para magpapansin," when asked.
After releasing his first single last month called "Midnight Sky" and soon follwed by his debut full-length album entitled Grandma, a stellar musical piece that proves his distinct ingenuity as an artist, we’ve heard how UNIQUE is being unique—as himself, standing mighty amidst all the talk, doing what he has to do. That is, to continue making music of his own.
From the moment you first hit play on "Midnight Sky," the difference is apparent—separating from his former band’s funky, upbeat vibe, UNIQUE sends a melodramatic air and lyrics that hit home. More so as you continue playing his tracks like instant fan favorites "OZONE (Itulak And Pinto)" and "Apoy Ng Kandila," which the singer wrote for his 18th birthday—a kind of memoir as he leaves his tender years behind. Perhaps this truly is his niche, but he isn’t one to file himself in a single folder. “Hindi ko siya ma-describe sa ngayon,” Unique tells when asked to define his music style, then continues, “Siguro dahil hindi rin kasi ako nag-stick sa iisang genre.”
And we forgive his uncertainty—if anything, his quick answer hints on his openness to a whole new world of possibilities. At the peak of his youth, the artist welcomes variety while sticking to his authenticity. He’s slowly peeling off his layers, and we’re about to see more of that in the coming months. With the string of new music fresh out of the oven and his first solo concert, The Grandma Tour, in tow, the excitement arises.
We’re halfway through the year, yet the 18-year-old is just starting. Churning his art out from his inspirations (“Panaginip, mga tao sa paligid, at saka 'yung aso ko,” he shares) got him to where he is now, and he’s definitely enjoying the ride. His move to sign up with Callalily’s frontman Kean Cipriano’s recently launched label O/C Records got the ball rolling, proving that he’s ready to go to greater heights in his music career.
But it’s not a race for UNIQUE. It may seem like he’s riding on a hasty train, but the young musician still lives for what’s far more important than just a fast track to fame. In fact, he’s taking his time, especially in his growth as an artist. “Hinahayaan ko ang sarili kong mapunta sa kung saan-saan,” he says.
His other interests lie in photography, scriptwriting, and painting, but the rewarding feeling of, “Mapakinggan nila 'yung mga kanta mo at madala sila sa ibang dimensiyon,” as UNIQUE reveals, makes music–songwriting, in particular–the thing that constantly gives him a sense of fulfillment.
We’re excited to see where all of these will take him. But for now, we’re more thrilled about The Grandma Tour experience, happening at the Kia Theater on September 29. What can fans expect from the show? “Kakanta ako nang nakapaa,” UNIQUE teases.
Watch UNIQUE star in our 18th anniversary campaign #ChalkGen18 as part of this year's Chalk Bright Young Manila:
ALSO READ: #ChalkGen18: Meet The 18 Individuals Of This Year's Chalk Bright Young Manila
Photographed by Stephen Capuchino
Grooming by Andi Espina of Makeup Design Academy