We found Kalimba artist and aspiring singer-songwriter Bea Lorenzo's page through a post by Candy Cutie Rammy Bitong. We couldn't stop listening to her Bruno Mars cover that we ended up checking out the rest of her videos on Facebook.
In a video on her Facebook Page, she describes what the instrument is after being asked by a few of her followers. She plays a Kalimba, a wooden board with metal tines, adapted from an African musical instrument of the same make called an Mbira. She shares a bit of trivia about the instrument, which she mentions is part of the family of lamellaphones. "The metal tines are meant to vibrate to make sounds," she explains.
We caught up with her online to ask her more about the Kalimba and what her plans are for her music. Read on to find out more about Bea Lorenzo.
How did you first find out about the Kalimba? How did you learn to play it?
"I've always had a stubborn passion for building things from scratch. Oftentimes, I've fascinated over a musical instrument's design. I can spend hours in a guitar shop trying to dissect the acoustical physics behind how different sound pitches are produced. It's become a persistent goal of mine to simplify that science and use alternative materials to make unconventional musical instruments that can be used at live gigs. After several failed DIY papier-mâché ukulele attempts, I gave up on constructing a body that was strong enough to counter the challenging tension of ukulele strings.
"Last year, I stumbled into videos of customized instruments, which instead of strings, used long flattened pieces of metal wire. I knew nothing of the instrument, where to find it, and what it was called; only that I wanted to make one. And so I drafted a rough design and collected materials for my "soon-to-be instrument." Hahaha! Days later my boss, Francis Reyes, caught me fiddling with dozens of steel bicycle spokes atop a wine box and laughed upon hearing my ambitious plans. "It's a Kalimba!" He quickly insisted I purchase one instead of going through the hassle of making my own. A week after, he brought his Kalimba to work and allowed me to try it out. I immediately fell in love with the sound. I figured if I could find at least three chords, then I could easily record a cover, and so by the time everyone had left the office, I brought out my phone to record my first Kalimba video.
"I'd say I'm still in the process of learning the Kalimba. I've done a ton of research but just like any instrument, a huge chunk of becoming a comfortable player is practice. That was one of the biggest things that motivated me to finally purchase a Kalimba. With the piano being my primary instrument, finding time to practice was a challenge that grew more difficult when I began working a full-time job. My new lifestyle involves long work hours away from home and in traffic. It was a dream to have a highly portable instrument, which would allow me to study chord theory and build melodies, without having my piano with me."
Apart from the covers you post on your Facebook Page, do you have original music, too?
"I'm in the process of writing! Over the past few months, I've learned that a big part of songwriting is listening. I digest songs very slowly. I didn't listen to radio and grew up in a ballet studio, where most of the music I was exposed to was either classical music or piano instrumentals of standards or pop music. Now I'm making a conscious effort to listen closely to the elements that make the music I hear. This, with hopes of nourishing my vision of the type of sound I'd like to build as an artist.
Tell us more about yourself.
I turned 24 this year. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Biology from UP Diliman with initial plans of pursuing a career in the medical field. I wouldn't say I picked the wrong course, as Biology did teach me to marvel at life. Though I did always walk around the campus with a guitar in hand. Haha! I'm currently working my first job as a full-time staff writer for Billboard Philippines! So far it's been a great investment in terms of character building. Also, as an aspiring singer-songwriter, I get to learn a lot about the music industry from the artists I interview and write about."
What do you want to tell people who are hearing your music (and finding out about the Kalimba) for the first time?
"I'm really thankful to those who have given my music a chance! It warms my heart to know that people find joy in witnessing others dive into their passions. And so I'm fueled with excitement to begin my journey as an artist and am lucky to have a loyal community and support system behind my back. So far the Kalimba has given me a greater sense of courage to create. With no pre-conceived expectation of how it's meant to be played, every performance becomes an experiment."
Check out a few more of her videos below and we won't be surprised if you'll end up getting hooked on her music!
Frank Sinatra's "Beyond the Sea"
"I'm Not That Girl" from Wicked the musical
Ed Sheeran's "Castle on the Hill"
Know any other interesting musicians who should be on our radar? Tweet us @candymagdotcom!