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Jay Ortega’s cosmic crescendo

A day of musical excellence awaits as musician, vocalist, and songwriter Jay Ortega releases his fifth solo single, “Star,” tonight, August 12, at Midcentury Manila's MCM Play in Biñan, Laguna. The artist tells The Manila Times Entertainment the event promises to be a night of soulful tunes, creative collaboration and artistic vision.

Lead singer of the soulful Filipino band Holmes and co-founder of his previous band Apartel with Ely Buendia, Ortega chose MCM Play, a Midcentury Modern Gallery owned by husband and wife Ken and Isa Mishuku, as the venue for his single launch, saying that it reflects his intent to intertwine the vintage roots of soul music with modern innovation.

Musician and songwriter Jay Ortega

Pretty much his musical journey imagined and verbalized.

“It's a stunning venue, filled with amazing art and people who know, perpetuate and execute art. It's become a thriving hub for like-minded and creative people. It's easy to see why I chose MCM Play as the venue for the launch. It's inspiring and an amalgamation of old and new things. Just like my music, and in particular 'Star,' my latest single,” Ortega expressed in an exclusive interview.

He also says the event is more than just a release party. It will see a gathering of friends, collaborators and true supporters of Ortega's musical journey. Part of this select group of guests includes esteemed personalities such as Jun Sabayton, Geneva Cruz, Raims Marasigan, writer and film scorer Erwin Romulo, industrial designer and artist Stanley Ruiz, graffiti artist Tripp 63 and Waxie Joaquin, sound engineer and proprietor of Waxified Sound Production.

The event will kick off with London-based DJ Larry, bringing soulful vibes to the gathering and playing chill, RnB, and disco tracks.

Of course, the main highlight of the evening will be Ortega's live performance, accompanied by a band of talented musicians who contributed to the creation of the single. The artists are Ortega's fellow Holmes bandmates, including virtuoso guitarist Coco Coo, groove-based bassist Derek Ileto, gifted keys player Kensan Carandang, Benjo Robles on behalf of drummer Bea Lao and Dan Gil, who plays both saxophone and synths on “Star.”

Ortega says “Star” is more than just a song but an expression of his admiration for Billie Holiday.

“I was watching a biopic of the late, great Billie Holiday and saw how much of herself she gave to her music, her culture and how much she affected people around her. I thought to myself, now that's a star. As the lyrics on 'Star' go, 'You've got that Billie Holiday vibe, the kind that never dims,'” Ortega recalled.

“She just had this aura about her. So, I turned that inspiration into a love song. An ode to someone who isn't just a proverbial star to me but makes me feel like one too. Like a gift from the heavens. A supernova of love and emotion spread across the cosmos,” he detailed.

“It all started with a melody I had already recorded on my phone. A seed, if you will, or what I'd like to call these little tidbits. I sat on it for about 30 minutes, then started writing the lyrics to the song. The lyrics just flowed through me, and in less than an hour, I was done. Verses, the chorus, and the basic arrangement. After an hour and a half during the pandemic, I had a demo,” Ortega added.

The fusion of soulful, neo-soul, and R&B elements encapsulates the sentiment of the song, with influences ranging from Leon Bridges to Stevie Wonder.

“Soul was my base and my foundation for the song. I've listened and have gotten inspired by numerous artists since [my] trip to Memphis [back in 2015],” he shared.

“I guess that's how I was able to develop the sound, not just for 'Star,' but for most of the songs I've written of late. My deep dive into Soul, R&B, Jazz and Funk really started with my band Holmes, but has since evolved into something more elaborate, more well-thought-of with regards to arrangements, melodies, harmonies, and that overall groove,” he added.

The creative process behind “Star” was a collaborative effort. Utilizing Dolby Atmos technology by Waxified Sound Production also added an extra layer of depth and immersion to the track, aligning perfectly with the song's cosmic theme.

“The Dolby Atmos or Spatial experience is truly special, pun intended. It's not only immersive but brings every instrument in the song to life – like you're right, smack at the center of the band and the music. I've never done this before. And, 'Star,' being what it is, theme, lyric and all, is the perfect vehicle for me to try this new technology out. It calls for something intergalactic, something cosmic, something interstellar,” said Ortega.

“Hearing specific movements of sound, not just panned like what you would hear on stereo but actually surrounding you, encompassing you, is really something to behold. I'm extremely thankful and lucky Waxie Joaquin and his team, including Enrique Santamaria, took the song on and gave it everything it needed,” he continued.

Ortega will also launch the music video for “Star” soon. Now what makes this one more special is that his kids, Layla (17 years old) and Malaya (12 years old), came up with animated visuals that they drew based on ideas he had for certain parts of the song. The proud dad even called it a “family affair.”

“I used to be a director, visual artist, and creative director myself and so everything is literally in-house. My wife Alia, who was an editor, visualizer and executive producer, is editing the music video for me. It's a 'family affair,' as Sly and The Family Stone exclaimed in their song. Alia and I shot some scenes with me for particular segments of the song as well, with me directing and her as my camerawoman, using only my current iPhone,” he shared.

“It's very DIY, but I promise my audience it'll be a trip, and it'll only heighten the song's interpretation. I'll keep the rest of the concept under wraps for now, so there's an element of surprise,” Ortega finally teased.

In the future, Ortega plans to record and release full-on analog songs recorded on 24-track reels. But for now, Ortega hopes the audience rides on a supernova with him with his latest single, “Star,” which he is incredibly proud of.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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