Beyond the Tunes: Meet Wishcovery Originals’ Alt-Folk Up-and-Comer Peniel Roxas
Oct 28, 2019
“Beyond the Tunes” is a series of interviews and features that aims to shine the spotlight on up-and-coming singer-songwriters who have earned a spot in the Wishcovery Originals grand finale. Get to know the top musical acts who will be vying for the championship tilt in the third edition of Wish 107.5’s very own talent search.
Though she’s only at the dawn of her teenage years, Peniel Roxas is already crafting tunes so profound that one may wonder where she’s drawing her inspiration from. She admits she grew up at a time when the soundtracks of Camp Rock and High School Musical were conquering the airwaves. But despite her young age (she just turned 18 last May), she uses her strong sense of empathy to tread her own musical path and create compositions that revolve around rather deep themes.
During the maiden month of Wishcovery Originals, the young up-and-comer — with a guitar in her hand and her heart on her sleeve — proved her potential as she shared rousing, unapologetic indie-folk tunes about apathy and gender identity. The aspiring act, hailing all the way from Davao, emerged victorious and stood out from a dozen budding Filipino musicians from across the country. Read on and discover the promising tunesmith’s background, creative process, and more.
What made you pursue music?
The thing that made me pursue music is, I guess, the fact that it helps as an escape. And as someone who is really not good at talking or expressing things [through] conversations, music is the only way I can ever express things that I actually feel. I think, [music] tells stories more than anything else.
When did you first learn about your gift of singing and songwriting?
The time when I knew that I was very much into performing and singing was when I was very young. [Back then], I was very much into Camp Rock and [High School Musical]. I copied a lot of routines and I’ve realized that it was actually fun. I also used to join talent contests in school and I got good reviews, which probably means something. That was why I wanted to continue performing.
With songwriting, I only started when I became a teenager, like around 14. Because that’s when I’ve had more time to think about [things]. The kind of music I write usually falls under the genre of folk or folk-alternative or singer-songwriter, because I like writing songs that fit soundtracks.
How’s your creative process like?
Usually, I find a situation first that I can write about. When I find that situation, that’s when I narrow it down. How did you get to that situation? What do you feel about the situation? What are the things that are running in your mind?
In terms of music, I usually find the tune first, add the melody. I get a random instrument and I play a random chord. Even if it doesn’t make sense, [as long as it] sounds right, I use that chord. I usually just use two chords, then I fill it up with lyrics that can make it more full and more story-like.
What do you think is your edge over other contenders?
I guess, it’s about my song structures — I don’t follow the usual ones. I just write continuously and I don’t look at the structures or the technicalities. My edge I guess is my story-like structures. They are more novelesque.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your being a singer-songwriter?
It’s more intrapersonal, because there’s a lot of doubt and questioning when it comes to singing and songwriting. There’s this pressure to accurately express a situation. At the back of your head, you’re always questioning — Is this the accurate description of what someone’s going through? What if I made it too shallow? That’s usually the challenging aspect.
During the weekly eliminations, you performed “Stories.” What’s it all about?
Initially, the song is about human trafficking, but then I realized later on that the song could be something more. It’s basically about issues around the world and the people not really realizing they are there. It’s one of my favorite songs that I have written.
For the monthly finals, your entry was “Prayer.” What’s the story behind this one?
Recently, we made a musical as a project [in our school]. The premise of this musical is that there’s one who’s closeted and one who’s out. They’re basically lesbians, and they switched souls for a bit. The storyline gives us an understanding of the struggles of each character — one being out, and one being closeted.
The song, basically, is written for a scene from the musical wherein the gay organization of this high school was attacked; they’re expressing how they feel and how bittersweet it is to be “out there.” Because even if you are out there, it doesn’t mean you are entirely free. You’re still limited. Through the song, I want people to understand how limited we are in terms of wanting someone. Or in terms of what we say and what we do.
What’s the message you want to send across to your audience through this song?
The message that I want to send across to the audience is just the understanding… To the audience and members who are part of the [LGBTQ+] community, I hope that they see themselves in the song. And also, I hope it could serve as a safe place for them. For the people who are not part of the community, I hope [that] when they listen to the song, they can see why they act the way they do, or why they fight for who they are.