Singer-songwriter Jace Roque attests that despite the democratic availability of online platforms for music, getting a leg up is still an uphill climb for independent artists.
“Mahirap,” he stressed in an interview.
Jace cites this example: “Minsan nasa-sideline ako sa shows dahil hindi ako major record label artist. Like kung may line up na nakasama na ako sa list pero bigla akong ma bu bumpoff dahil may isang major record label artist na dumating. Ganu’n po ka disheartening ‘yung discrimination. ”
But despite the struggles, Jace soldiers on, believing good music will save the day.
“If you listen to my songs, I can guarantee na these are straight from the heart, hindi siya plastic. Walang facade na this is how I want myself to be but rather this is who I am.”
He’s been in the business for more than a decade now. Jace also dabbles in acting, cast in the 2017 film “Across The Crescent Moon” led by Matteo Guidicelli.
“Malaki ang nabigay ng movie, naging platform siya for me to reintroduce myself to music. During promotional tours nag-re-release rin ako ng original songs ko para marinig ng tao habang meron pang press attention akong nakukuha,” the artist said.
In 2018, Jace released his single “Keep On Holding On” which touches on his struggles in conquering show business.
Aside from writing, Jace also arranges and produces all his music.
On why he always releases original works instead of covers that already have built-in audience, Jace pointed out he doesn’t want to bank on other people’s hard work.
“Kailangan sa akin talaga ‘yun (‘yung music). Kailangan ‘yung message na na-convey ko is authentic. Galing talaga sa akin,” he added. “Tsaka mahirap din kasi sa licencing pag cover songs.”
“Keep On Holding On” has got more than 65, 000 streams, which opened more opportunities to Jace. These include performing at different venues (Sky Dome, Music Museum, etc.) and gracing company events.
One of his newer releases is “Days With You” done with Indian DJ/Producer NXUS.
“‘Di ganu’n ka well-received because tropical house ‘yung genre,” he admitted. “Eh alam naman natin na ‘di pa ganu’n ka welcome ang local electronic dance music. Pero I’m trying to elevate Filipino music na parang marami pa tayong pwedeng i-offer. Pwede tayong maging export artist, pwede tayong ilaban sa ibang bansa.”
Jace knows there are a lot of good artists and competitors abound. Nevertheless, he believes in order to stand out, he only needs to be himself.
“I don’t have to try really hard na kailangan ganito ako as I just wanna be myself. Kasi gusto ko pong i-accept ako ng mga audience as me and not as someone na ‘The next ganito,’ ‘The next ganyan,'” he shared.
“Kasi sinasabihan ako before, early on in my career, na the next Somedaydream (a Filipino synthpop project created by singer-songwriter and producer Rez Toledo). Tapos sinasabi sa akin with my music ngayon na very similar kay James Reid. Which is I’m very honored to be compared side by side with James pero gusto ko rin malaman nila na may difference ‘yung genre ko kay James. James is more of urban RnB while mas pop-dance ‘yung sa akin.”
His most successful track is “Sober” streamed for more than 320 thousand times.
It is about depression and anxiety.
“It’s an advocacy that I want to tackle kasi hindi siya ganu’n na di-discuss. Kumbaga hanggang ngayon taboo pa rin ‘yung mental health issues. Sa atin (mga Pinoy), mahirap siya i-discuss. So through music gusto ko siyang i-discuss through sa na experience ko.”
“‘Sober,’ it’s about my past, the journey to where I got. It’s the hardship I faced that got me where I am today. ”
” Sober” was released through international company AWAL, a Kobalt Music Group subsidiary.
Jace said having his songs released by a “big company” feels surreal.
“I never thought about it, that it would happen, ” he admitted. “Sobrang nahirapan kasi ako locally na makakuha ng major record deal.”