Hawaiian singer Jeff James collaborates with Keith Martin; hopes to penetrate local music scene




Si Jeff James, isang American/African singer na ipinanganak sa Hawaii, ay nasa Pilipinas ngayon upang dito bumuo ng career bilang isang mang-aawit.

Nakapanayam ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) si Jeff noong December 9 sa Manila Pavilion Hotel sa Maynila.

“I came to the Philippines actually for the first time for a vacation, just less than one year ago, maybe January of this year. Then I went back [to Hawaii] and I talked to my mom and she said, ‘Yeah the Philippines is good.'

“And I saw the music and the passion here so I want to expand my career. Hawaii is very small compared to the Philippines so it was a good choice based on the musicianship and the passion for music,” umpisang sinabi ni Jeff sa panayam namin sa kanya.

Bumalik si Jeff dito sa Pilipinas noong Agosto at plano na raw niyang mamalagi dito sa bansa.

“I don’t have any other plans except to expand through Philippines and do other gigs in Asia so I’m just trying to focus here.”

African/American ang ama ni Jeff at Mexican-American ang kanyang ina. Bunso si Jeff sa apat na magkakapatid na puro lalaki. Hindi raw alam ni Jeff kung saan sa Pilipinas nagmula ang ina niya dahil hindi raw ito naikuwento ng ina.

“For me to be here is a new experience that I’m learning about and I’m learning Tagalog now.”

Twenty-five years old and very much single, solong namumuhay sa isang condo unit sa Pasig si Jeff.

May tiwala naman raw sa kanya ang mga magulang niya na parehong nasa Hawaii kaya pinayagan siya to embark on a career dito sa Pilipinas.

“They trust me that I’m making good decisions and they raised me in a good family so they know that I don’t do anything without a purpose.

“Everything I do is for a good intention.”

Ano ang nakapag-kumbinsi sa kanya na dito sa Pilipinas sumubok ng kapalaran bilang singer?

“[I] was persuaded by good singers like I listen to Bamboo a lot, I listen to Rivermaya. Freddie Aguilar...those are some other people that I look up for inspiration.

“Some of the female singers, I listen to like Sarah Geronimo, just coz they are the ones that I see on TV. I’m with OPM, I’m hanging out with Jim Paredes, now I’m listening to what he did, the APO Hiking Society.”

Nakilala raw niya si Jim nang nagpunta si Jeff sa isang event ng Organisasyon ng mga Pilipinong Mang-aawit o OPM kung saan miyembro na si Jeff.

“They allowed me to play and I met him and Ogie Alcasid and, there’s so many great Filipino singers and musicians that it’s hard for me to just name them on the spot.

“Even for that occasion I learned a Tagalog song and I sang it for them, it’s a new one by Jireh Lim, it’s called 'Buko.'”

Nakilala niya rin daw ng personal ang singer na si Jireh na sumikat sa YouTube.

“Even In Hawaii, I’m learning Tagalog songs just so I can come here and blend in a little bit more, you know.”

Iba-iba raw ang genre ng kanyang music, ayon kay Jeff.

“R&B, reggae, island reggae, pop but I’m also an experimental artist. I’m also the only person that does a one-man loop beatbox show. You can check it on YouTube. In my shows I always do my one-man band show. It’s something unique that I do with a ukulele, too.

“Most people do guitar and sing. But sometimes I play the ukulele and do the one-man show.”

Sa mga foreign singers naman, isa sa mga idolo niya ang yumaong King of Pop na si Michael Jackson.

“In my shows I always try to do Michael Jackson’s songs. Coz for me, he’s the most versatile.”

Gusto rin daw niya sina Usher, Ne-Yo, at Justin Timberlake.

“But for me I like to do older stuff...Stevie Wonder is another big influence. I like Bob Marley.

“Besides singing, I’m actually a multi-instrumentalist. When I’m not singing, I’m focusing on playing the drums. When I’m not drumming, I’m focusing on playing the guitar. When I’m not guitaring, I’m focusing on playing the piano.

“For me it’s a never-ending process.”

Ang album ni Jeff na Just Be Yourself ay nasa ilalim ng Jeff James & TTYM (Talk To You Music) label.

Laman nito ang mga kantang "Hawaiian Girls," "Love Me," "Let’s Not Pretend (Feat. Jegaan)," "Woo Woo Woo (I Think I’m In Love)," "Good," "Top Of The World," "1 Mo Love Song," "Honey Baby," "Wildside," "Inside Out (Feat. Shay)," "Hold Me (Feat. Samy)," "Girl From Hale’Iwa" and "Shaka The Moon."

Ang kanta niyang "Hawaiian Girls" ay nanalo na ng award noong 2011 sa prestigious na Ha Hoku Hano Hano na siyang Grammy Awards ng Hawaii.

Hindi rin pinalampas ni Jeff ang pagkakataon na makatulong sa mga Pilipino dahil ang proceeds ng show niya kagabi sa Alegria Lounge ng Manila Pavilion ay ido-donate sa mga biktima ng bagyong Yolanda.

“Actually I’m not the main producer of the show, it’s the MVV and the Rockman Productions, and they told me, ‘You know, we’re planning a show for you and the things that happened in Tacloban and other cities is very unfortunate. But at least we can tie up so we can give the proceeds to them and have a launching for your career at the same time.’

“So even though it was bad and you know we have to come together and the music is not gonna stop so why not just tie it all together?

“And so I’ve done many things with artists like Rannie Raymundo and even Ogie Alcasid, we did some [fundraising] concerts and stuff like that.”

Nakapag-guest na si Jeff sa ibang fundrasing shows dito sa bansa pero una niyang major show ang ginanap sa Alegria Lounge.

“It’s my way to also give back coz you know it could happen to anybody anywhere. So I just wanna be humble and put something on for other people as well.”

Ang iba pang mga awards na natanggap na ni Jeff ay ang 2013 Top Brand Awards Most Inspiring International Male Performer of the Year at 2013 People’s Choice Asia Awards Best New International Male Recording Artist.

Mapapanood ang mga music videos ni Jeff sa www.youtube.com/TalkToYouMusic.

“I’m doing other things as well, there are music producers I’m now working with like musical arrangers and I finally found a good musical arranger, his name is Keith Martin.”

Si Keith ay kilala rin ng mga Pilipino na siyang nagpasikat ng romantic ballad na "Because of You."

“For me to finally find a good producer that can take my music and incorporate exactly what I do—whether it’d be a beatbox or plain ukulele—he’s able to all mash it into one and produce a product that we think that the Philippines is gonna love and the rest of the world is gonna love,” sinabi pa ni Jeff.

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