22-year-old "Lutang" artist Jikamarie was born into a family made for music. When asked about her history with the art form, she tells me her parents met in a band in college, resulting in her and her Kuya being surrounded by it all their lives. “Music,” she shared with a smile, “was something I couldn’t avoid even if I wanted to... It was just something we grew up with.” Candy talks to Jikamarie about her humble beginnings before becoming a full-fledged musician.
Jikamarie first started on TikTok.
Before the pandemic, Jikamarie’s life revolved mostly around her life as an Architecture student, where occasionally, she and her Kuya would find small open mics to perform in. She was in her second year of college when lockdown hit, forcing isolation, quarantine, and the search for different outlets of expression just like everyone else. Enter the famous Gen Z app, TikTok, where nearly everyone found themselves either consuming or creating content on the app, or both. Naturally expressive, Jikamarie began sharing anecdotes, popularly known as "Storytimes," about college life before lockdown, like the time someone stole her phone.
These kinds of videos, funny and relatable, soon earned Jikamarie an established audience that regularly interacted with her through the app. But as quarantine evolved into different variations and classifications, Jikamarie soon began to post short song covers. Already anticipating the lower traction and numbers these song covers would get, the singer-songwriter had resigned to accepting that her followers came to watch Storytime or BTS-related content, and not random song covers.
Her fans instantly fell in love with the original "Lutang" demo.
Much to her surprise, that same audience she’d established a connection with welcomed her music with open arms. After randomly posting another music-related TikTok, this time an original song written during her third year of college nearly a year into the pandemic and recorded through her phone, her followers and other witnesses of the first-ever "Lutang" demo stormed the comments to get her to release it. Despite finally posting it on Soundcloud, both new and old followers alike began pestering her some more to officially release the song on Spotify. This, she shared, was the start of a new venture both for herself and her brother.
“We didn’t expect that a song that we made with the humble equipment we had at the time, for people to love it so much... It makes me so happy, and gives me hope for artists. If the music is good and a good amount of people want to hear you and will appreciate your music, consume your content, there’s a place for you, and I appreciate that a lot.”
Written during the peak of online class stress, the debut itself is a four and a half minute dream-pop track, blended soulfully with electronic elements and beautiful vocals by her producer and Kuya Ken Ponce, that covers the very humane, familiar feeling of wanting to stay, quite literally, in the clouds.
In less than a month since its release, the track made its way to the #1 spot on Spotify’s Viral 50 Philippines playlist, reaching over a million streams on the popular music streaming platform.
in less than a month!?:?:7/ i srsly lov u guys sm???????? anong gusto nyong reward?? lutang - jikamarie
Love the Philippine music scene, and it will love you back.
If there’s anything the 22-year-old rising star learned from the overwhelming support from her online audience, it’s that the Philippine music scene is alive and well. “I did not expect that much people to listen to a song by someone not established as a singer or artist, and despite my song being independently produced,” she shared with a smile growing on her face, “Filipino listeners right now, di na sila namimili… They just listen to who they wanna listen to and they boost the artist they wanna boost, and I appreciate that so much because it opens opportunities for newer artists like me and other artists.”
In what one would call a whirlwind of events, the rising star officially signed with music label Warner Music Philippines for future projects, including the Official TikTok Fan Video, an ode to her biggest supporters from TikTok, and the more recent Lutang: The Mixtape.
Now a signed artist with different variations of her first debut and a newly released music video (in which she came up with the storyline herself), Jikamarie sticks to celebrating the joys of her current achievements and music before she can even think of the future. “I’m still happy that I get to release music and write the songs I wanna write and sing them, and a good amount of people wanna listen to it. I’m happy that people appreciate the music I make and that I get to do it with my brother at the same time.”
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