EXCLUSIVE: Songwriter, Dreamweaver, Eco-Warrior—This Is Nadine Lustre Like You've Never Seen Her Before
With the release of her newest album "Wildest Dreams," Nadine Lustre is a whole new person with new loves, hopes, and dreams
The dreams we dream might be dull—as dull as real life. Or, they could be delightful flights of fancy—full of peculiar reinventions of waking life, exaggerated representations of our abilities, and otherworldly manifestations of our innermost selves.
Wild dreams come to us from time to time, but with a caveat attached—not everyone wakes up knowing what to make of them. That's a special skill reserved for a few. Dreams reveal their true messages only to those who are ready and willing to receive and, most of all, capable of sharing them with the world.
And of the billions and billions of dreamers there ever were, this year, no other than Nadine Lustre has proven to be the most ready, willing, and capable—more than we've ever seen her before.
Through Nadine Lustre's new album Wildest Dreams, her first release as a self-managed artist, she makes a powerful return and shows us the power of dreams. The introspective and stunningly visual album is a kaleidoscope of soulful songwriting, personal reflections, intimate collaborations, experimental sound, and dreamy visuals, making it a tasty treat for Nadine's fans who have ached for her return.
And return Nadine did with Wildest Dreams, never to disappear in sleep again.
She recently had an eye-opening experience, too, after watching David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. For some time now, Nadine has been toying with the idea of working with environment-focused groups. Now that she's achieved more clarity in her life's direction, she's come to the realization that her personal wellness is inextricably linked to that of everything around her, especially the natural world.
"It's the Law of Attraction!" she smiles, as she reveals that her new favorite skincare brand, Bioten, sought out a partnership with her for a very special project that's close to her heart.
"When I wake up, I always remember my dreams. They're always so vivid," Nadine begins.
She remembers the moment she'd woken up from a particularly memorable dream, the exact one that wove the fabric of her newest album, Wildest Dreams. She's a serial dream interpreter, in case you didn't know, and the dream she refers to oozed with a substance begging to be given shape.
It was a three-part dream.
Its first chapter had her falling from the sky and into a room full of mirrors aggressively reflecting her face back at her. The only escape was to break them all, and when she did, she found herself falling once again, this time into a field of flowers. Nadine loves flowers; it was only natural for her to want to pick one even in her sleep, but in the millisecond her fingertip came into contact with a fresh bloom, it turned into gold, wilting a rushed death. In the dream's final chapter, Nadine found herself on her back, unable to move and feeling very, very scared. Snakes, hundreds upon hundreds of the cold, hissing reptiles, weighed down on her immobile body and she'd thought she was done for—until she became her own savior, one that told her that the only way out of this mess, of this fear, was to summon calmness from within.
And with a sense of calm, Nadine awoke.
What she learned was that the sense of calm that helped her through a potentially painful end was never meant to be limited to the realm of dreams; her real life—one where she's an actress, singer, songwriter, dancer, host, mental health advocate, brand endorser, and inspiration to countless people—was in need of the same.
See, dreams have a way of sending us messages about what we need, what we've neglected, what we've overlooked. The soon-to-be 27-year-old (it's her birthday on October 31!) had read enough of Alan Watts and Carl Jung to know that her dream's symbolism needed to be unlocked.
"For the second [part of the] dream, it was to put my heart into everything I want to do, because everything I touch can turn into gold if I give it my all. But, I have to be careful because it has to be something for the good, not something that can mess with me, my life, or harm other people. And for the snakes, it's to just find peace in fear," she continues.
The lessons would stay with Nadine for months on end. The dream came to her in the summer, but even as the heat gave way to clouds and gray and rain, Nadine knew that her path to self-discovery and decoding all its mysteries had just begun.
"I sat down with myself during enhanced community quarantine and had conversations with myself and asked who am I, really... I met with myself again and just sat down and had a proper conversation with myself about who am I, really, and what is it that I want to do," Nadine reveals.
It's the spirit of her new album, Wildest Dreams—every track tells of an aspect about Nadine that had been remade and transformed. The mirrors, flowers, and snakes were but representations of actual habits, perspectives, and hindrances in Nadine's reality that needed to be broken down and rebuilt to be better.
Take "Dance With Danger," a song about looking fear in the face. "What it's saying is that when fear gets the best of you, jump and just face it. There's no other way to get through it or get around it. I really like that song but it's more of inspiring everyone to just let it go," Nadine says.
Another track called "Glow" is a request more than anything else. In it, Nadine asks everyone to give her a chance; to allow the new Nadine to find what it is that makes her glow, whatever it might be. Then there's "Gray Skies," Nadine's open letter to herself, and "Natural," a song all about embracing uncertainty and rolling with life's punches however hard they hit.
She can't choose a favorite song (that's like a mom picking her favorite child), but the one which she worked on with her producer about her brother's passing has to be the most emotionally hard-hitting for her. It took a few rounds before she could sing it with a steady voice in the recording booth.
Each song confirms that who she was before—Nadine Lustre circa 2009 to 2019—was not at all who she'd dreamed of becoming. She'd always known this, she admits, but she was too busy, too preoccupied, too afraid to acknowledge the truth.
After all, without showbiz, an industry she's been in for 15 years, who and what would Nadine Lustre be?
Months-long of isolation from her old life would be enough for her to gather the courage to answer that.
"A couple of years back, when we were still doing full-on showbiz, it was really hard to determine who you were because there were so many things happening... It really blurs out the line and the person, and who I really am," she confides.
"Last year I did the movie Indak, and then I haven't really done anything since then... It's true that you really get lost. You feel derailed if you stop. You feel, 'What am I supposed to do now?' because I wasn't really doing anything. I was just there," she continues.
To her fans, it could be a satisfactory explanation behind Nadine's prolonged absence.
To Nadine, it was the uncomfortable, yet necessary, confrontation she needed to bloom, perhaps, for the very first time in her life.
There's a reason why she holds a lotus flower in Wildest Dreams, her new album's first single released on October 16, and why she got a version of the same flower inked into her left arm a month before the song dropped.
"Lotus flowers grow from the mud, so they rise up to the mud, then to the water, then to the surface. It's really beautiful and inspiring," she shares, adding that in some cultures and spiritual practices, the sturdy but mesmerizing bud signifies enlightenment.
She's not quite fully enlightened just yet, Nadine smiles, but the fact that she now smiles about the journey that once only brought her worry and doubt and confusion is enough for now.
Know this about Nadine's newest album Wildest Dreams: it's an elegant piece of her personal history that marks a deepened understanding of what it means to be and love herself.
For the first time in her career, her skin feels like her own instead of a stage costume, and the weight of her name falls differently on her shoulders—it's no longer a burden, but something she carries with pride.
If in the past, she defined "self-love" as allowing herself to indulge in life's luxuries while denying herself from feeling "negative" emotions, this time, she knows better. Nadine has grown up, while her heart has grown stronger, too.
"Self-love is to allow yourself to experience and feel everything; every emotion that exists, you just have to feel. I changed so much... Before, I would say 'I can't' or 'I don't want to.' That to me was self-love; it was to not think about it and just bury it. Now, it's allowing yourself to go through it and experience life," Nadine opens up. This includes addressing the aftermath of her brother's death in 2017, admitting that not everyone she'd encountered thus far have been good influences, and that she needed to be more honest with herself.
There's barely enough time to talk about the different ways and colors in which she's changed, she jokes. After going through Metro Manila's seven-month quarantine alone, she barely recognizes the Nadine from March—the Nadine from 2019, 2018 and earlier; she's practically a stranger, maybe even an intruder in Nadine's now-reclaimed life.
On top of her newfound emotional maturity, Nadine also cites another part of herself she's glad to see opening up—a love for the environment. Sustainability, balance, self-sufficiency, adopting a flexitarian diet, and even picking the right professional partnerships from here onwards are all new things Nadine has embraced in terms of going green.
2020 isn't entirely a bad year, after all, at least not for Nadine.
"After watching David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, I thought to myself that there must be something I can do, maybe with an organization that I can work with to make everyone aware of the situation... A lot of people that I know just watch it and say 'Okay, cool,' yet still live unsustainable lifestyles," she explains.
She was just being real about the situation, as she always has been about her opinions; it's easy to say you've watched a trending documentary, but to really live out the changes it calls on you to make? That's a different story—but one Nadine is willing to be a part of, and even to write a chapter of.
"I've always been so close with nature. I love going hiking and every time I see trash or plastic floating on the water or up in the mountains, it's so heartbreaking. It really breaks my heart because a lot of people really don't understand the gravity of the whole situation—climate change and how much trash we have to deal with," Nadine goes on.
Setting her heart to this new use for her life, Nadine mulled things over in her mind, making sure to make her intentions known to the universe.
Nadine had been so affected by the documentary that that day, she had contacted environment-focused organizations herself to let them know that she was interested in working with them. Lo and behold, not even a week had passed when For the Future, an organization founded by Issa Barte and Maita Jalandoni, came to to her attention.
Nadine was touched by what they had in mind.
She learned that Zambales' Yangil tribe had been deeply affected by 1991's Mt. Pinatubo eruption, and although three decades had passed since the cataclysmic event, little work has been done to help the Yangil tribe recover. Enter For the Future's Fund the Forest initiative that aims to bring people together to support the Yangil tribe and MAD (Make a Difference) Travel's 20-year reforestation efforts to benefit the Aeta Yangil tribe. "It's an initiative by young people to provide anyone from anywhere a chance to make a difference," explains Issa. This aims to contribute to the greater, "greener" good of the society.
"The land is mostly ash and there's nothing really growing there... The land is dead, and there's really nothing, so it's hard for the Yangil tribe to eat," Nadine details. What meager things they grow hardly sustain them. And because they don't really have a good source of cash and livelihood, they were left with no choice but to cut down the trees and turn them into charcoal to sell, but thankfully, that's now a thing of the past.
After learning about this, Nadine, without hesitation, agreed to work with Issa, Maita, and their team.
You'll be happy to know that Nadine has joined the movement and is now at the forefront of For the Future and MAD Travel's 20-year reforestation campaign that aims to raise funds for 88,000 trees. In true partnership, Nadine's new favorite skincare brand, Bioten, is committing to raise half of the funding needed in the project. The number 88 is representative of the exact percentage of natural ingredients in the Skin Moisture line, which Nadine loves. It is a number but it is not just a number—it speaks of Nadine's and Bioten's honesty and proactive participation in protecting the environment.
"It's always something that I wanted to do," Nadine adds, citing that aside from her advocacy on mental health, living a life more in touch with the environment—from her diet, to being conscious about sustainability, the kinds of brands and services she patronizes and even her life philosophy—is the next step for her.
That's who Nadine has always been, and something she knows she'll always be; everything she does and everyone she partners with have to be parts of a synergistic whole—there must be interconnection and more importantly, honesty and authenticity. Just as Bioten and For the Future have taken on the responsibility of giving back, Nadine, too, is a firm believer in the delicate give and take relationship of things. As a human being nourished by the land and constantly gathers what it yields to survive and thrive, she knows that it's only right to replenish what's been taken and better yet, to only ever take what can be replenished.
"I've already started with a sustainable lifestyle. I started with little things like bringing your own bag to the grocery, checking out sustainable stores that sell produce or stores with refilling stations. I've already reduced my plastic and paper waste, and I'm also doing the flexitarian thing and that's where I'm at right now," Nadine beams.
She looks forward to being a good influence on people around her. She's dumbfounded by the fact that even with information on the state of the environment and the many ways to contribute to environmental efforts available everywhere, most people continue to go about their lives uninformed, sometimes willingly. Perhaps, with visible partnerships with Bioten and For the Future, Nadine can light a curiosity about greener living in them—a curiosity that'll turn into genuine interest, meaningful conversations, then action and finally, a passion.
Nadine is known for a lot of things, but the title of eco-warrior is something she hopes to earn next, sooner than later. She's only begun, she says, and she knows she's capable of much more.
With just two months left in the year, Nadine has a mixed bag of feelings about the chunk of 2020 that has come and gone.
It's weird for Nadine to be getting re-acquainted with herself after all this time. It's terrifying to be starting from scratch. But it's also amazing that for the first time, she's actually writing songs. It's empowering, too. Finally, Nadine has enjoyed creative control over her music, taking up a pen and overcoming her fear of putting her emotions into words and letting people in on her vulnerability as a person after years of doubting her songwriting capabilities and fearing feeling.
In its totality, Nadine's newest album Wildest Dreams is a product of her working under Careless Music Manila, throwing ideas back and forth between James Reid, Isagani Palabyab, Bret Jackson, Marcus Davis, Massiah, and more. (Expect tracks featuring pretty bomb collaborations between Nadine and her fellow Careless Music Manila talents). The same team shot the visuals for the album from August to September.
Maybe, a big livestreaming event to take the place of stadium shows could be in the works, too, Nadine hints.
Surrounded by a team that let Nadine tell her story how she wanted to do so, Nadine has bloomed. Working on her very own record, with rules according to her, was an absolute joy.
Wildest Dreams won't be the last of its kind.
Next year, all Nadine wants for herself is to do more music—music is her life, or at least, it is now, now that she can definitively call her music, her music.
She'll try to get back to painting and drawing too—and traveling. There's nothing in the world she misses more than hopping on a plane to see places she's never seen before. But if life calls for Nadine to stay put for the time being, no problem. She has other plans to keep herself fulfilled should that be the case.
"I'm planning and looking for land for a mini farm where I can plant my own veggies and fruits, and live off the land. I'm still saving for that, but hopefully in 2021 I can do that," Nadine says.
There's a lesson to learn from Nadine.
It's that dreams, the wildest kind, don't actually come to us in our sleep.
There are dreams that come to us when we're wide awake, and only when we're at our most aware, attuned, and attentive. They don't disappear when we wipe the sleep away from our eyes right as the sun starts to peak from behind pale yellow clouds in our first hours of the day.
They stay with us long after they first cross our consciousness, growing only wilder and wilder until they're no longer dreams but realities that make up our day-to-day lives—things that we can touch, work on, and look forward to.
In the end, there's nothing wilder than life itself—and Nadine has the rest of hers to look forward to.
See more photos of Nadine Lustre from our cover shoot in the gallery below:
Nadine Lustre On Metro.Style
Nadine Lustre On Metro.Style
Check out what went on behind the scenes at this cover shoot in the video below:
To know more about Nadine's environmental advocacy with Bioten, For the Future, and Make a Difference Travel, visit https://www.forthefutureph.com/88k-trees.
Produced by Kat Cruz-Villanueva
Creative direction by Chookie Cruz
Photography by Seven Barretto
Makeup by Jelly Eugenio
Hairstyling by Paul Nebres
Styling by Joanna Garcia, associate styling by Bettina Banez
Video edited by Bria Cardenas
Cover layout by Kaye Guevarra
Shoot coordination by Grace Libero-Cruz and Judy Arias
Special thanks to Thei Ordiales, Careless Music Manila, and Macie Chavez