It feels like starting all over again for MYMP guitarist and founder Chin Alcantara.
After 14 years of performing here and outside the country, numerous radio hit singles, six albums certified as platinum sellers, and a handful of recognitions given by various local award-giving bodies, the band popularly known for ushering the acoustic revival trend is turning a fresh chapter with the entry of new vocalist Juliet Bahala.
Juliet will assume the spot vacated by Juris Fernandez, who is now pursuing a solo career after leaving the group late last year due to "creative" and "personal" differences.
Last night, February 3, at Centerstage Family KTV and Resto Bar on Tomas Morato, Quezon City, Chin officially introduced Juliet to the members of the entertainment press through a mini-performance composed of five songs plus an impromptu vocal exercise where the 18-year-old Davao native brandished her ability to do an opera number.
MOVING FORWARD. Chin acknowledged that there was indeed tension between him and Juris prior to the actual breakup of their tandem last October. In fact, and quite normally for any group or creative partnership, personal to professional differences are always present regardless of time and friendship.
"Normal lang naman 'yon [misunderstanding], lagi namang ganun, magkaka-banda magkakaroon ng tampuhan tapos maayos... Hindi ko alam na aabot sa ganito," Chin told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal).
To the duo's credit, Chin and Juris still managed to play together and honor pending commitments last year even though they were no longer practically a unit. Both, however, opted to keep the separation secret to protect remaining business interests.
During the lull, Chin—who hasn't played live for two months following his lead singer's departure—devoted much of his energy in scouting a potential replacement for Juris.
Juliet Bahala caught Chin's attention in the demo she submitted. She went on to clinch the spot after other applicants failed to impress the meticulous MYMP leader. Chin would later on use Juliet's recorded singing voice as gauge in evaluating the other aspirants.
"No one came close," Chin declared.
FANS REACTION. Juliet has yet to experience the rigorous demands of playing and singing live almost every night. And Chin has yet to discover how the audience would react to Juliet as the band's new singer.
"So far, hindi pa namin alam [public reaction]. Pero 'yong mga nalalaman namin, tulad ng meron kaming fan base sa Facebook, meron din siya [Juliet], excited sila though siyempre nalulungkot sila na nawala si Juris. Pero excited sila kasi gusto nila makita, kasi 'yong mga fans naman namin na sumusonod sa amin more than five years na. So, parang nakaka-excite naman kahit kanino pag may bago," said Chin.
But the prospect of losing old fans is also a given, according to Chin, "Meron ding hardcore fans na pag nawala na 'yong singer, ayaw na sa banda, meron talagang ganun."
With the unexpected shake-up in the MYMP core, expect to hear and see something new as the hitmaking group enters another chapter. The band will start by overhauling its image.
"Ang problema kasi 'yong duo [tag], marketing strategy lang 'yon ng old label [Ivory] namin for marketing purposes. Mas madaling i-market, 'tapos mas madali din kaming mag-guesting kasi kaming dalawa lang, hindi na kailangan ng equipment. Pero pag nagpe-perform kami, talagang may banda," Chin explained.
Chin also wants to incorporate songs previously left untouched because of certain limitations. What was noticeable during last night's performance was Juliet's ability to flex her vocal pipes with obvious ease.
"Hindi naman kami magbi-veer away from acoustic," assured Chin. "Gusto lang namin i-maximize 'yong vocal range niya [Juliet] kasi sayang naman."
Curious fans will have a chance to hear Juliet's singing voice as well as the rest of the band on February 12 in a pre-Valentine concert at the Music Museum titled MYMP Now.