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She’s only 19 years old — born in 1995 — and has been in the scene for only a year but pretty much everybody in the scene is excited for BP to release her first full-length album, Neon Hour, in March.
Riding on the back of her five-track EP, BE/EP, released in March 2014 “at Route 196, on a Wednesday Finals night,” her upcoming album is atmospheric and sparse, with excerpts from the likes of American poet Edwards Estlin Cummings and dialogues from the movie Almost Famous carefully tucked into the wide musical landscape that she’s produced.
LISTEN TO BP VALENZUELA’S MUSIC AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE
Casual radio listeners may have a hard time understanding BP or what she does. In place of instruments are machines and laptops. She’s a singer and songwriter but she is also a producer. Her songs don’t follow the usual verse-chorus-verse format but they will make you want to put them on repeat.
There’s nothing you can really sing along to here but the songs are something you would definitely want to listen to at night, when the bed is too big for just one and it’s strangely cold, and your demons start to haunt you, and you can’t sleep.
“I have a hard time sleeping at night so that contributes to that,” the tiny, young lady tells Coconuts Manila one afternoon at Satchmi record store in SM Mega Mall, where she works part-time. Before her debut album hits the Internet, allow us to introduce to you BP Valenzuela.
1. Her EP was inspired by a break-up
When her two-year-old high school relationship failed to make the delicate transition to college, an 18-year-old BP started writing, making and producing what would be BE/EP. “My whole second term at Ateneo, that’s all I did in between papers, in between classes. I should probably thank my ex for this,” she smiles. It is now on its second print.
2. It started with her song ‘Buildings’
Which, in turn, started with these lyrics: You run away every time I get a little bit close, you run at the notion of being anywhere with anyone. “When I got the chorus down, I just built the production around it. There’s an excerpt there of an E.E. Cummings poem, ‘My love is building a building.’ It revolved around that poem.” That dictated the mood of the song — sad, electropop, contemplative — and the entire EP.
3. BP’s music is like the child of the ’80s and the ’90s
“It’s the whole sound of the ’80s — the synths, the drum machine, everything — but lyrically and melodically, I’m influenced by the ’90s. It’s much simpler and the lyrics are super heartfelt.”
4. Madonna and Prince are her ultimate foreign favorites
But Jimmy Eat World was the artist that turned her into a serious music fan. “’The Middle’ is my favorite song of Jimmy Eat World. ‘Like a Prayer’ kay Madonna.”
5. Pedicab and Oh, Flamingo are her local favorites
In the local front, BP has been a huge fan of Pedicab for quite some time now. “They’re my old favorite band and Oh Flamingo is my new favorite band. Jensen and the Flips, I love them live. Of course, Sandwich, Imago, the Play4serve crew, I like!”
6. She’s been making music since she was 12
“I’ve been playing and making music since 12. I was playing classical guitar, nag-aral ako. But before that, I was self-taught na rin because my sister got a guitar for her 13th birthday. Sobra akong nainggit.”
7. But she only started singing in 2013
“I only started gigging in 2013 which was when I started singing. I never sang before. In high school, I was everybody’s sessionist. I only started becoming confident with my voice in college na. That’s when I put out the EP. I just tried it. I didn’t know it would blow up the way it did.”
8. It was a lazy recording engineer that made her want to try producing
When BP was 13, she tried to record her own songs in a studio. “As in, I booked and I went. Walang banda, ako lang. And the recording engineer didn’t take me seriously! He gave me the worst output ever. I was really disheartened so I just started learning [how to produce] on my own. I bought books, I read online.”
9. She was going to be a lawyer
She was at the tail-end of her first year in Ateneo studying pre-law Sociology and Anthrology courses, when she released her EP. And when that met a level of unexpected success, BP transferred to College of Saint Benilde to study music production. “If it weren’t for the launch, hindi siguro ako tutuloy with music,” BP says.
10. BP is a workaholic
BP hates free time, which explains how she’s learned to do everything. “When I saw my schedule at Benilde was so flexible, and then I saw an ad for Satchmi [record store], I applied. They got me naman so I’ve been working part-time here since it opened in September.”
11. Neon Hour is the title of her debut album
It’s a 10-track offering of fresh, new songs. BP has been working on it since October 2014 with Nick Lazaro of Moonwalk and Twin Lobster. This is the first time she’s ever worked with anyone and she thinks it’s “cooler because Nick is such a cool guy. The album is more dancey, it’s more pop but the lyrics and the sentiments are still the same. Alienation to the tune of dah-dah-dah!”
12. It’ll be independently released sometime in March
“It’s still a college DIY thing. There’s no album art just yet. As of January, I’m 80% done. I’m not signing with anyone anytime soon. I’m a creative control freak so I don’t want to compromise. Maybe in the future?”
Photo: MV Isip/BP Facebook page