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Falling in love with grentperez’s modern-day ‘harana’

By Maria Sophia Andrea E. Rosello Published Jun 23, 2023 5:00 am Updated Jun 23, 2023 5:12 pm

Inspired by the Filipino courtship tradition harana, Filipino-Australian singer-songwriter grentperez writes odes to love in all its forms, his music a perfect match for hopeless romantics everywhere.

Grent sat down with Young STAR before his first show in Manila (and Asia!) to talk about his deep passion for music and storytelling.

The 21-year-old first found his audience on YouTube, which his siblings actually tried out first. “The way I got into (music) was through listening to my dad play music (around the house) as a kid; I even sang along as a baby. My siblings also did covers and included me at the early age of five, so you can look up tapes of me on YouTube singing More than Words as a small child. After a while, I got interested in YouTube (myself) and started doing my own covers.”

In finding his own sound, he owed it to the influence of artists like Rex Orange County and the Australian band Last Dinosaurs. Daniel Caesar’s R&B tone was also formative in helping him shape his “fluid,” genre-bending indie-jazz sound.

This fluid sound is all the more apparent on Grent’s latest EP “When We Were Young.” He fuses a slew of vintage sounds, from bossa nova to Spaghetti Western fanfare, to create a record that’s as joyful as it is nostalgic. Grent ultimately wanted to connect with his childhood. Realizing that things are bound to change now that he’s grown up, he said, “This feeling of change is relevant to us (young adults) since most of us will graduate university soon, which means we’re all inching closer to adulthood and farther away from being young.”

The Filipino-Australian singer performed hits from his new EP When We Were Young” in his first-ever live performance in Manila.     

He brought up his song Don’t Grow Up Too Fast, which he released in 2022. “Imagine what it feels like for your parents to watch you grow up. I remember right after graduating high school, my dad told me and the whole family, “Wala na tayong baby sa house,” because I was the bunso. Just thinking about that made me feel nostalgic.”

Another song close to Grent’s heart is Silver Lining, which is part of his new EP. He recognized that not all love songs should be about budding romance, so he decided to write about the love present when two people choose to end their relationship.

Grent first found his audience on YouTube, where he posted covers and original songs.

“The sentiment is very beautiful. It paints a picture of that (moment) when you feel upset or you’re going through a tough time, but because of how this other person and the breakup shaped you to become who you are now, you don’t really regret it. There's a silver lining: you were once with that person and they have changed you (for the better).”

Grent explained that his music doesn’t just talk about the love he experiences firsthand, but also the stories of those around him, and even films.

His song Clementine, for example, retells the story of one of his favorite movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, whose female lead goes by the same name.

“The movie was really, really insane because it shows that, no matter how many times you try to erase your mind (to remove your memories with another person), there will always be some part of you that is connected to them. That was something I wanted to write a song about.” This frustrating push-and-pull between wanting to forget and wanting to remember reaches its peak in Clementine’s chorus: “Throw it away but close enough to you, ‘cause although I hate you, I will still fall in love, my Clementine.” 

Storytelling is what sets grentperez apart, and what keeps us listening and coming back for more. As he continues to rise and take over the world, this creative young mind is determined to keep sharing stories, in the name of (all kinds of) love.