Jensen Gomez has been a constant player in OPM for thirteen years now, jumping in and out of being a solo act since the early days of his young adulthood. This time, however, he’s staking claim over his music career with perhaps his most personal record yet, starting off with the lead single off of the
“Phases” era, “No Sides”, out now via Off the Record Philippines.
In celebration of his much-awaited comeback and this new chapter, Rank Magazine catches up with the singer-songwriter to talk music, timing, and what’s next.
Gomez kickstarts this new journey with “No Sides” as his lead single, encapsulating everything he feels about music in one smooth but solid track. Initially, he shared that he went into the studio that day intending to write a love song. But, as he lost himself in his passion for songwriting and music creation, it evolved into him expressing his feelings on a grander scheme of things, dedicated to music.
Image courtesy of Off the Record Philippines
“‘No Sides‘ was one of the first songs I wrote for the album. It came out as an exercise lang, since I haven’t been writing solo for quite some time. The lyrics, what it means to me, it’s my love story with music. Knowing that everything’s still unsteady, I couldn’t help myself from creating songs again. *No Sides—*no sides to be hidden from everything. I’m here and I’m open, and I’m ready to give it another shot,” he opened up.
He emphasized that the song’s message is if you love something hard enough, you’d be willing to do anything for it. It was this track that really launched him into the process of writing and producing for the whole “Phases” era, packaged in four mini volumes that led up to the full release.
The beat of the song is reminiscent of “Boracay circa 2005”, according to Gomez, who wanted to capture that quarantine and lockdown feeling of wanting to be out there. It also has the production befitting of a road trip soundtrack that begs to be heard outside in the company of friends just looking for a respite amid the uncertainty.
But it being released in a time where this is unlikely, all of these soundtrack scenarios stay thriving just in our imagination.
The whole “Phases” project might very well be experienced solely at home, while the Philippines remains under varying levels of quarantine. While that might deter other artists to create and release music in a time of uncertainty and zero live gigs, Gomez felt it was actually the perfect time for him to use his voice again in such a personal manner. In his words, he felt exhausted to just be “that guy” who wrote music scores for movies, advertising jingles, or his past mistakes. He needed that release through his own self-written songs, which led to a four-volume release with an album made up of 16 full songs.
He might not be able to perform it in front of a crowd for a few months, but the timing was necessary.
“It’s been too long. I was exhausted with how people just saw me as the singer for The Flips, or the guy who did the musical scoring, or the ‘jingle guy’. I wanted to make something, a whole body of work, that I can be proud of and just release it. I think now is the best time to release stuff, actually. Because you’re not going to be able to tour it, but everyone [basically] has to listen to it, kasi wala namang ibang trip sa bahay,” he explained.
Images courtesy of Off The Record Philippines
Gomez’s last full record was from his band days with Jensen & The Flips back in 2017, and while he had released several singles since then, this is his first full comeback into the music scene as a solo musician since 2013.
This is “Jensen’s Diary from 2015 to 2020”, he mused, reflecting on just how personal this record is to him. In fact, while No Sides acts as his love letter to music, its music video, which was shot mostly in one take, is also a representation of the different phases of his career.
As he revealed this, it’s clear that this era in Gomez’s artistic journey takes on a very personal route. With songs like “No Sides” and “Grip” that speaks so much from the most intimate places of his heart in just the first volume alone, we wonder how the rest of the record will take it even further.
After all, Gomez revealed that “Grip” was the most challenging song to write from the whole record as it required so much honesty out of him. It even got him to walk away a couple of times as things got too intense in the studio. If this is one of the songs we’re opening up the era with, how much deeper will this record get?
Image courtesy of Off The Record Philippines
But he is a firm believer that once you put music out there, it’s no longer yours. As this is a deeply intimate and personal record, he surprisingly feels unfazed about the country—or the whole world, for that matter—to hear his innermost thoughts.
“The reason why it took me a while to put it out is I needed to live with the songs first. That’s the reason why it took me more than a year to put it out kasi pag nilabas ko siya, people can judge it, people might not like it. But pag nangyari iyon, okay na ko kasi I got to live with them for a while, and I’m now ready to share it with the universe,” he shared.
Looking ahead, though, it’s not only his own releases that he’s excited for the country to hear and enjoy. As the official A&R of label Off the Record, he’s living his dream life even outside of his own body of work through new talent acquisitions, and working on OTR’s roster of young artists he calls “alagas”. This includes rienne, and DAZE, two of the most promising acts out of the new generation currently making waves in OPM. As he’s never had a mentor, he shared that it feels particularly rewarding to share his knowledge with the younger generation.
He just wants to surround himself with more creativity, he stressed. May that be through his own music or Off the Record’s new artists, or even through his DIY projects at home, nothing would give him greater joy.
“No Sides” may just be the first track out of a long-term plan of music releases, but it’s certainly showing a new side of Jensen Gomez’s artistry and ardent love for his craft that was never really so obviously showcased this much before. With the release of the “Phases Vol. 1” EP officially opening the “Phases” chapter, we’re keen to see what else he has up in his sleeves.
Watch the official video of “No Sides” here: