Maris Racal on bringing joy through her music and world-famous memes

Maris Racal on bringing joy through her music and world-famous memes

Maris Racal is all smiles.

Even though she'd been busy the whole day working on promo, the Filipina singer and actress still exudes with a sweet and carefree energy that reminds people that they shouldn't take life too seriously. She's filled to the brim with excitement over her latest offering, 'Asa Naman', a track written in Tagalog and Bisaya. It's amassed nearly one million views since its release earlier this month and it's clear things won't be slowing down anytime soon.

Bandwagon spoke with Maris Racal to talk about writing 'Asa Naman' with producer Rico Blanco, her songwriting process, and thoughts about being a world-famous meme.

Tell us about 'Asa Naman', how you came up with the track, and your decision to make it a mix of Tagalog and Bisaya.

Actually it all started when Rico [Blanco] encouraged me to write or release a Bisaya song. Back then wala pa akong confidence to write a Bisaya song, kasi in my head, lagi akong nagsusulat ng Tagalog or English. It took a while.

One time we were on our way to somewhere, nakaisip ako ng line na Bisaya. Ito yung phrase na laging ginagamit sa Bisaya. It's called "puhon". Nakasulat ako ng line na: "Asa naman ka karun / Kadugay ba sa puhon," which means "Asan ka na ngayon? Where's your promise?" Parang ganun yung line. I sent it to Rico and he sent me back a voice message at nakalagay doon yung line. That's how it started.

['Asa Naman'] is about someone who's waiting in vain, na laging pinapaasa, but still hopes na magiging totoo yung gusto niya.

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A post shared by Maris Racal (@mariesteller)

'Asa Naman' has a bit more of a pop-rock vibe compared to 'Ate Sandali', but you can still tell it's from the same artist. Do you plan on expanding more from that sound?

Yeah, I think it's not impossible, kasi I still have the same songwriting process. I still write whenever I want to write. I still write kahit hindi siya pop. Kahit very folk-y vibe or piano-driven vibes, sinusulat ko pa rin. It's not impossible, but for now I'm really, really enjoying the process and the fun of releasing pop music na may dances, ganyan (laughs).

Speaking of your songwriting process, can you share a little bit about it?

You know the saying, "Chicken or egg, sino mas nauna?" Para siyang lyrics and melody, either way sinong nauna, na-eenjoy ko pa rin siya. Usually may naiisip ako na melody, i-rerecord ko agad, and then nagmumumble ako ng words, whatever sounds nice.

But there are days na pag super sad ako, feeling so nostalgic or emotional, diyan talaga lumalabas yung sabay. I just grab my guitar and strum a chord. Pagnarinig ko yung tune, iisipin ko lang yung nararamdam ko and then there are words na lumalabas. Para siyang magical experience. Hindi siya dumarating every day, parang minsan lang siyang nangyayari. But if it happens, it's usually very satisfying. 

What do you hope people will take away from your music?

All of my songs have different messages and meanings. Kung ano man yung meaning nun, sana ma-inspire sila by it and ma-enjoy nila.

Personally when I listen to my favorite songs, even the old ones, it takes me somewhere else. For example whenever I'm feeling hopeless, there's this one song na lagi kong pinapakinggan. And when I listen to it, it takes me to a place na I'm living in this world where parang lahat na nangyayari, nangyayari yung mga gusto ko. Achievements ko. After that session, I feel so inspired. There's this surge of possibility, and I want them to feel that when they listen to my songs.

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A post shared by Maris Racal (@mariesteller)

Can you share what song that is?

Well, there are a lot! As an artista, there are moments kasi na gusto kong mapunta sa place na heartbroken ako—hindi ako heartbroken at the moment. There's this song, 'Dreaming with a Broken Heart' by John Mayer. Whenever I listen to that song, it takes me somewhere na parang nalulungkot ako o nahaheartbroken ako. It usually reminds me of the times na I felt so heartbroken, sobrang alam mo talaga na sira yung mundo. It takes me to that feeling, from there I'm able to act.

So, you really emote to the music you listen to.

Yeah! Nagdadrama for short (laughs).

Being under the spotlight, what other outlets do you enjoy spending your time with to help you grow creatively?

Ako talaga, kasi sa pandemic ang dami na nating alone time. We're usually isolated kapag may quarantine. I feel so creative when I see artists na nagpopost about their music. Usually you go somewhere else na ikaw lang magisa para maging creative ka. Ako iba. Parang mas nagiging creative ako kapag may mga bagong songs na lumalabas. To be specific, whenever I'm on TikTok, I get so, so many ideas! It's just silly!


might as well post this here since patok siya sa thailand. jk 💀 ##fyp ##foryou

♬ original sound - Maris Racal - Maris Racal

Speaking of TikTok, how do you feel about being a meme?

Oh my gosh (laughs)! I don't know what to feel about being a meme. It's funny, kasi kasalanan ko rin naman siya. Ginawa ko rin siya sa sarili ko. I post videos para maging meme, so sinasadya ko siya, which is so funny. And nakakatuwa kapag ibang bansa na yung gumagamit. Parang nagiging worldwide meme na ako, which is a huge achievement so far (laughs). Yun palang yung global achievement ko as of the moment. I'm very proud. It's a very silly way to be recognized. It's funny and cute!

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

We have only three months left! Meron akong mga i-shshoot na mga movies at series. And more music!

Follow Maris Racal's Youtube page here.