Metro Talks with Troy Laureta
Fresh off the release of “KAIBIGAN: Vol 1.”, the Filipino-American music director gets candid about his creative process, inspirations, and mission to bring OPM to the world
Fresh off of the release of KAIBIGAN: A Troy Laureta OPM Collective Vol. 1, we had the opportunity to get an exclusive interview with Filipino-American music director to the stars, Troy Laureta about his pull towards music, his inspirations, his idea of the perfect love song, and his mission to bring OPM to the entire world.
Talk about your pull to music—why do you love it and why do you love producing it?
I’ve loved music since I was six years old and I fell in love with the piano. Ever since then, I just got hooked on it. I’ve always been a shy kid, so music was kind of an outlet for me to express myself. Whenever I was sad or happy, I would get on the piano. I evolved more as I got older. I started getting into producing and ever since I was a kid I would always look at the CD liners to see who produced my favorite songs, who played what, and it was always so fascinating to me how a bunch of people can make records that sound so big.
Once I got into that, it became really easy for me to choose music as a career path, putting both my passion and want to just create these records. My biggest mentor who inspired my whole career and my producing life is David Foster. Studying him and other greats like Quincy Jones and Max Martin, I just fell in love with the art of making records and also musical directing—which is also a big part of my life. I arrange for live shows, and that became a big part of my life too. It’s nice that it’s finally coming together because I don’t always get the opportunity to do both especially these past couple of years I’ve been dabbling in my touring life so with the pandemic I was able to get back into producing which is one of my first loves.
What inspired you to create this album?
It’s been a dream of mine for years, actually. Ever since I was young, I’ve loved Filipino music and I’ve always dreamed of creating an album where not just Filipinos, but people all over the world would sing Filipino music. I’ve mentioned before that on tour during sound checks, I’d play old Filipino songs like teleserye songs to subconsciously introduce people to Filipino music. I just wanted to pay homage to a music and a people that have inspired my life so much. When 2020 hit, it kind of became a chance for me to actually do it—everyone was not working, live music went down—so I thought this is when I could make that dream a possibility, I have time and people want to create. When 2020 hit, that’s when my idea for creating KAIBIGAN Vol.1 came back to life.
You can say it’s been a work in progress for years, but 2020 was the catalyst, I guess, to make it happen. And finally with everything that’s happening, it’s so nice to see my friends, who I’ve worked with sing songs that were part of my childhood, so it’s a dream come true.
How did you choose who would get featured on it?
The people that I chose to sing on the album have either inspired my life in some way or have been in my life in a lot of ways. The artists that are featured on KAIBIGAN Vol.1, I either musical directed for them, I toured with them, or have been in the studio with them. And for example, Ms. Regine, she was just a part of my musical upbringing since I was a kid. I listened to her songs all my life. Every artist means something to me that’s why I called it KAIBIGAN, friend, these people actually really mean something in my life and have become a huge influence or made an impact in some kind of way at some point and still do to this day.
What, to you, is the most beautiful Filipino love song?
There are just so many Filipino classics even when coming up with KAIBIGAN Vol.1, it’s like, “man, I don’t know how to get the best of the best because there are so many and so many I haven’t even touched yet even with the first album.”
[For me, ] kundiman is such a beautiful art form of music that in a lot of ways, obviously with the trends, it’s not as current, but I love "Maalaala Mo Kaya", old school songs, I think it would have to be "Maalaala Mo Kaya" or "Dahil sa Iyo". I’m an oldie at heart so I love old school songs.
What do you look for in a love song? What attracts you to a song?
As a musician first, I love solid, beautiful melodies. I’m a kid of the ‘90s, and the Philippines still appreciates that type of writing of the ‘80s and ‘90s when big ballad love songs are in and they all have solid melodies like a verse, a chorus, and a prechorus. I love classic ‘90s pop songs, those are songs I grew up with. So even listening to OPM, the songs I chose even for KAIBIGAN Vol.1, they all have such a beautiful melody and they also have a beautiful message. I think that Tagalog is one of the most expressive languages so when you combine how beautiful the melodies are with a language that has so much depth, it’s a formula for a beautiful hit. Those are what the songs are made of—great melodies, beautiful lyrics, and an amazing singer.
What was the last OPM/Filipino song you listened to? What are you listening to now?
The last OPM song that I listened to was "Dakilang Laki", it gives me chills and it makes me so proud to be Filipino. I haven’t heard that song in a while and I was talking to Jake Zyrus and we were just listening to classic OPM songs and I brought up that song and I love that song, it’s such a powerful song.
This is Vol. 1... what does the next volume have in store for listeners? Who artists will you be collaborating with next?
Well, I’ve had the privilege of working with so many different artists along the years, I’ve gained family. You know, when you make music you become family so while I’m still basking in Volume 1, this is bigger than just an album, my mission is to spread OPM everywhere as much as possible even just for a little bit, whether it's me playing at sound checks or whether it’s me introducing the song to people, or listening to the latest trends in the Philippines. So, all that to say that it seems that people are really receptive to Volume 1 so maybe I’ll call on my other kaibigans for Volume 2, we’ll see.
What other musical endeavors do you hope to embark on?
You know, one of my biggest dreams is to do TV. I think that cinematic stuff and doing a musical show would be one of my greatest aspirations. Here in the US, you have shows like Saturday Night Live or the house band for AMAs. I’ve played on those shows, but to become a house band for a great music show like The Voice would be so cool because part of being an artist is getting your material out there and I would love to just share my gift. That’s what every musician wants. I’ve done touring, I’ve done studio work and I would just love to do some TV, TV would be so much fun. And I think it’s a challenge.
Again, I’m innately shy. Even with this album, even if I have all these amazing artists with me, it’s all still a little new for me. If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s to step out of your comfort zone and pursue things that you wanted to do and been wanting to do so TV and hopefully I would love to continue creating music that will not just promote my Western influence and upbringing, but also spread the love and joy of Filipino music. It’s definitely become a personal mission of mine to make sure people know about the music in the Philippines.
Is there a message that you have for your listeners?
As a Filipino-American, I’ve always been so passionate about my culture. I think that part of my personal mission besides being a musician is to make people feel proud to be who they are. Growing up as a kid and as a musician, I never really saw too many Filipinos out there. My mom and dad and my sister have always been supportive, but there are always people in your circle who wanna sway you away and for good reasons—for stability. You know, music’s a very rollercoaster, you never know what’s gonna happen. So with this album and hopefully with what I’m doing in the industry, I’m able to inspire particularly Filipinos. I want inspire that Filipino boy or girl that is singing on the Magic Mic ‘cause I used to do that or playing the piano thinking like we’re just gonna play some Beethoven that they can reach higher places if you just believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter what color you are, it doesn’t matter if you’re from the Philippines or America.
Hopefully with KAIBIGAN Vol.1, it speaks to somebody because Filipino music has always spoken to me. I always say that it’s kind of crazy how a music thousands of miles away really inspired a little boy from Hawaii just wanting to play some music. So if Filipino music can do that for me, I would hope that I could give back and add to that inspiration and make people be proud to be Filipino whether it’s a musician, whether you’re in the medical field, whatever field you are, I would just like to inspire my kababayans to aspire for the stars because my mom always told me to aspire for the stars and I’ve just been lucky to have that support so if I could be that support from afar so if someone listens to the album or reads an interview and they get inspired to follow their dreams, then I’m happy. That stuff is priceless for me as a musician and as a proud Filipino.
KAIBIGAN Vol.1, which features the voices of world-class artists AILEE, Cheesa, Jake Zyrus, Matt Bloyd, Nicole Scherzinger, Pia Toscano, Regine Velasquez, and Sheléa, seeks out to put legendary Pinoy love songs in the global spotlight.