TAGS: darna, jane de leon, starstudio

Photography by Raphael Yu

Singer-songwriter Nyoy Volante didn't exactly plan to be in the limelight. 

The now "King of Philippine Acoustic Pop" first wanted to work behind the scenes, but fate had other plans for him.

He explained in an interview with StarStudio.ph, “I did not plan a career in music, ang plan ko talaga kasi is to work backstage. Lights, sounds, directing, production design, ganyan. Creator kasi ako, mapa-music or mapa-art [pa ‘yan.] Hindi talaga ako nag-plano ng career [as a performer], kasi ang direksyon ko talaga is to be backstage.”

Nyoy also shared, “In fact, ‘yung mga banda ko before, nung college, I was just in the background. Ako yung guitarista, meron kaming bokalista. [Back then,] I was just doing the music, I wasn’t being in front [of the camera].” He said that even now, during his meet-ups with his fellow ‘Tawag Ng Tanghalan Kids’ judges, he’s still the type to just play the guitar for everyone else.

In touch with his roots, Nyoy was also able to fulfill his dreams of working as part of the production team, even if sometimes there are time constraints due to doing both on-screen and off-screen work. He explained, “Every now or then, I produce videos. Even before the whole YouTube thing started. I was getting into directing videos, then eventually it became a thing. Then I got busy. Kung ano pa talaga ‘yung love ko, ‘yun pa ‘yung nawalan ako ng time [gawin.] Nag-musical director din ako para sa mga shows. Every now and then, I still get to do it.”

And although he still works behind the camera, Nyoy did start to love being the one in front of it. He explained, “For some reason dito rin talaga ako bumagsak, sa performing, which I learned to love rin. I thought it was just a phase.” He then elaborated, “I was one of the lucky ones, even though hindi ko siya hinahanap, for some reason I was blessed na nagkakaroon ako ng opportunity. I was grateful, but at the same time I was confused. Kasi hindi ko siya ano, kumbaga, bakit doon ako napupunta palagi sa harap. Pero ‘yun nga, eventually I learned to love it.”

He emphasized, “Now, I can say, na ‘yung puso ko and ‘yung loyalty ko now is in performing. Kasi ‘yun na ‘yung craft na ano, eh, na I feel I’m strongest in.”

The singer further explained, “I saw that my greatest strength as an artist was in performing. And then, it followed, nung natanggap ko na, [I said] ‘this is what I’m doing now, I should be loyal to it.’ I [fell in love with it] because all my other opportunities sa kanya [in becoming a singer] rin nanggagaling. Everything worked out well, buti na lang. Kasi honestly, with the kind of neglect I did before, I don’t think I deserved to be in the limelight. But for some reason talaga, God has still blessed me to at least have a shot sa mga opportunities na nagkaroon ako.”

Nyoy has been in the business for more than twenty years. He also produced, created and sang countless hits, including his earlier tracks, "Nasaan Ka Na" and "Someday," which he considers his all-time favorites among the songs he wrote and performed.

He explained, “I wrote that ["Nasaan Ka Na" and "Someday”] early on in my life. And being a young new songwriter, nandun lahat [ng emosyon ko,] ibubuhos mo ‘yung emosyon mo [sa mga nauna mong kanta]. Yun [during the start of your career] ‘yung halos ibuhos mo yung buhay mo, just to create a good song. And I feel if there was a point in my life when I was really vulnerable, ‘yun ‘yung mga panahon na ‘yun.”

Nyoy also talked about where he gets inspiration to write good songs. He shared that when writing it doesn’t necessarily need to be about his experiences. He added that can be inspired while watching a good TV show, a movie, or even during his kwentuhan sessions with his friends.

He continued, “Before I had to get something somewhere, specifically, the emotions. [But] when it becomes something you do for a living, you learn to get it out of nowhere. Parang nagiging skill na siya. And of course, just like everything else, you can achieve that through time. Ako I’ve been writing for a while now, you can say around twenty years. And, you know, ‘yung mga techniques and mga style na natutunan ko, it’s all because paulit ulit ko siyang ginagawa. And then, malalaman mo if this is something that you should be doing, [or if] this is what [you should] not to do. I guess, ngayon, for someone who has been doing this for a while, I guess I get it from what makes me feel nice. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy story, alam mo yung kahit malungkot yung storya pero mapapaano ka: ‘Ang ganda nu’n, ang ganda ng linya na ‘yun,’ and when that hits me, I know that I’ve written a good song. If you feel good inside, regardless of what the emotion is, basta na-stimulate yung feeling mo, yung heart mo. That’s your starting point in making a good song.”

Family man

The unstoppable talent is not just career-driven: he is also a good husband and stepfather to wife Mikkie Bradshaw and stepdaughter Sophie.

When asked about his family, he said, “We share this common love for Disney. Para lang kaming magakakalaro. We share music, we share laughter, and we watch movies, just like that, just being together [is enough bonding for us.]” Nyoy also shared their favorite Disney films, “We love the classics. ‘Aladdin,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Little Mermaid,’ ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ [and] ‘Toy Story.’ Sobrang loyal kami sa “Toy Story.” We love it, we know the references, we own the toys.” In fact, the three of them love Disney so much that when they visited Disneyland, he described their trip as three kids playing around the theme park.

When it comes to Mikkie, Nyoy also divulged his relationship with his wife, and how he proposed to her. He revealed, “Safe to say [that the sweetest thing I’ve done for her is when] I proposed to her a month after knowing her. I guess that’s as good as it gets, ano. We knew each other, and then a month after, I found myself proposing to her. Of course, it was still very early. Years after, when we’ve decided talaga na we think we should get married, I proposed to her the second time.”

He also admitted, “I actually wrote a song for her, it’s called ‘Been Here.’ The lyrics go, ‘I’ve been around so many times, playing this game. It’s been too long.’ All of these things I felt nu’ng nakasama ko siya, is familiar. This is not the first time that I held hands with someone. But the difference is, yes, I’ve been here before, but this time I don’t want to leave anymore.”

Nyoy Volante and Mikkie Bradshaw got married back in February 24, 2016 at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros.

He described his wife, an accomplished theater actress, as an ‘amazing’ woman. “Para kaming magbarkada, but when it comes down to it, and you have to prove your love, she proves it. She will show that she will die for you. And not many people, capable ng ganun. Not all people can go all-out. She’s like all the girls I need rolled into one.” 

He says with glassy eyes:  “She’s a friend, she’s the one, and she’s also very beautiful.”

As Mikkie and Nyoy are both thespians, their love for theater was also passed down to Sophie. He explained, “That’s something we have in common, theater. We love doing it, we love seeing each other do shows.”

Also, as parents, full-Filipino Nyoy and part-American Mikkie also taught Sophie their respective cultures. Nyoy is more particular with teaching her how to always be polite and kind to others, while Mikkie puts emphasis on manners, such as never coming to a friend’s place unannounced.  He said, “We make sure that the way we bring Sofie up is a combination of a traditional Filipino family and the American way of living.” 

Photo from Instagram (@realityentertainment) 

Caught by the acting bug

Nowadays, Nyoy is also busy promoting his new film, “Damaso.” The indie film has a star-studded cast which includes Nyoy, Aiko Melendez, Vina Morales, Arnel Ignacio, Marlo Mortel, Jin Macapagal, Riva Quenery, Ketchup Eusebio, Mon Confiado, Ejay Falcon, Lon Veloso, Luke Conde, and Richard Quan.

In the film, Nyoy is set to portray a director named Joey. He elaborated, “Ang role ko doon is the director of the film na ginagawa, it’s a movie about Padre Damaso.” His character will clash with Aiko Melendez’s character as the movie’s producer, Ms. Lulu.  He also added, “It’s a musical [movie], and we don’t have a lot of those. Most of the Filipino musical movies na nakita ko, I loved it. So, I love na this time I’m in one myself.” Nyoy also feels grateful and privileged to have worked with actors he looks up to because of this project.

Aside from working as an actor, Nyoy also hopes to direct his own full-length film someday. He shared, “[In terms of genre,] I wanna try my luck with comedy. Parang intellectual comedy, ‘yung more on the nuisances, ‘yung humor nasa dialogue.”

Now with his work on-screen and off getting more traction, Nyoy shared advice on what he learned throughout his years in the industry. He said, “Don’t limit yourself to just the things that you just like. Kasi I found out na eventually kapag na-discover mo ‘yung mga bagay na hindi mo naman inisip before, depende sa lagay ng puso mo, ng status mo, ang dami pa palang puwedeng magpasaya sayo. When you discover it, mae-enganyo ka pala sa kanya. And that will enrich your artistry, your life, if you want to go that deep. Just so you know: to not limit yourself from what you think is worth discovering.”

Art Direction: Alfred Amado

Hair: Rovin Salanguit

Makeup: Erica Racela

Photographer's Assistant: Benjamin Capili

Editorial Assistant: Sheena Jayne Pangco

Special thanks to Pola Lachica