Tuesday, July 27, 2010


CURRENTLY promoting her new single, “Liwanag,” I thought this would be a good opportunity to revisit Julianne and repost an updated remix of a 2007 feature that I wrote about her for the Manila Bulletin.

Oh, and the new single sounds real good, too.


SHE could have gone the bossa nova route, sold a lot of CDs and probably be a household name by now. As a matter of fact, that was exactly what one major record label wanted her to do after hearing her demo music.

But singer-songwriter Julianne Tarroja or simply Julianne won’t have any of it. While she has nothing against the recent bossa nova craze and can in fact, jump in the bandwagon and easily be a standout doing it if she wanted to, the 26-year Interior Design major says that’s not exactly what she had in mind when she submitted those demos.

“Yes, I always wanted to write my own music and have a purpose to doing it. But I want to keep everything real, to keep things organic without being afraid of being judged for my artistry.”

With musical influences that include Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Erykah Baduh, India.Arie, Jill Scott and at one point, even Jewel, the lovely, acoustic guitar-toting chanteuse does know a thing or two about keeping things real. Writing introspective songs about personal choices and fateful circumstances (“the dark and bright sides of life,” she quips), very few singers can match the gritty honesty in which she bares her heart and soul in her songs.

All of this is not lost on MCA Music’s Ricky Ilacad, whose musical instincts are widely acknowledged in the industry as usually spot-on. Without seeing Julianne as something else and just allowed her to do her thing, Ilacad’s MCA Music rolled the dice and made her the label’s first-ever OPM signing.

Julianne’s music, a unique fusion of folk, jazz, neo-soul and R & B would later be given the name “OPM Soul” by MCA’s drumbeaters, is further honed and enhanced in the studio by Mike Luis of Freestyle who produced most of the album and Dan Gil of The Chilitees who oversaw two tracks. Other veteran musicians who played in the CD that would later be called Grateful include Rivermaya’s Mark Escueta, Wendell Garcia, Rommel Dela Cruz, Daniel Crisologo, Dexter Aguila, Sach Castilo and Kakoi Legaspi.

The result is one of the year’s most original releases. Grateful opens with Tulak Ng Bibig, the first single and lone Tagalog track. “It’s a frustrating love song about a person drawing the line with somebody who says something but actually means another,” Julianne says.

In describing some of the album’s other tracks, you can’t help but be reminded that Julianne is in fact, still a very young 24 and it shows in her songs. She says it’s easier to write songs “when I’m sad unlike when I’m happy, I just want to shut up as I really don’t have much to say.”

Grateful is one of my most special songs and is about being happy and thankful for that special someone in your life, the one who got you out of that dark place,” she continues. “I wrote it after a really bad breakup. The Queen In Me is about knowing the guy is for you if he brings out the queen in you. I’m still looking for that guy while Choose To Believe is me in a bad position, sad, stuck and trying to look for God.”

During our interview, Julianne wasn’t just describing these songs to us in detail, she was actually singing a few bars of the songs in between. We were impressed not only by her soulful vocals (which devoid of studio magic still sounds very beautiful) but also by her deft guitar playing. “Music has always been a big part of my life,” she recalls. “My dad, who was the musician in the family, taught me to play the piano and guitar. I have been part of a choir and was also with a band for almost five years.”

“I just want to perform. This is what I know, this is what I do best,” she declares. “All it takes is for one person to like one of my songs for me to find doing this very rewarding. I don’t want to be just another flavor of the month sensation. I find that very limiting. I’m thinking ahead. I want to stretch my wings and go global with this, too.”

Visit Julianne’s official website at www.juliannetarroja.tk.


julz said...

thanks for posting! :)

Unknown said...

Thank you Edwin for this...Julianne is a beautiful surprise to the music industry.... I am Grateful for this wonderful person!
Mabuhay ka sa pagsupporta sa mga artists na tulad niya!

Jugs said...

You're welcome, ladies. Always wanted to repost. Was just waiting for the right time.

Geetha said...

Thank you for this posting..