Maymay and StarPop’s Rox Santos talk about producing “Mpowered”

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Maymay and the StarPop exec talk about producing “Mpowered” and what to expect at her upcoming concert on Nov. 26. Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN MUSIC STARPOP/YOUTUBE

“Ito 'yung year na I feel empowered,” says Maymay Entrata via video call on a Thursday afternoon in early November. “ Kumbaga, ito 'yung year na sobrang na-embrace ko na 'yung gift ng music at simula kasi na-embrace 'ko 'yun, naging confident kasi ako 'dun sa pagkanta.”

A few days prior to our interview, the actress and singer had just released the song and music video for “Amakabogera,” the second dance-pop single off of her upcoming EP “Mpowered.” The video, which features Maymay at her pop star best, has now reached close to three million views on YouTube.

Like most young people who found themselves in a slump in 2020, the 24-year-old “Pinoy Big Brother” alum admits that several trials and challenges caused her to go through a period of depression when the pandemic hit.

“Naghanap ako ng way, nag-reach ako sa mga tao na sa tingin ko makakatulong sa akin,” she says of her journey to healing. “Dahil diyan, naging better ako. Sobrang panalo 'yun, kapag may self-awareness ka na,” she adds.

“Mpowered” marks a new musical era for Maymay, who had already found Platinum success with her self-titled debut album in 2017. The EP is her third album release as a singer, with the previous two albums featuring songs that span different genres and vibes (“from novelty to hugot”) — a deliberate decision made by the StarPop team to help her find the sound she is most comfortable with as an artist.

Heading Maymay’s musical undertaking is producer Rox Santos, the executive behind ABS-CBN Music’s Gen-Z-targeted sub-label. Santos has been working with her ever since she started her singing career and lauds the actress-singer for her versatility.

“Talagang ang una-una naming ginawa is ano ba 'yung nararamdaman ni Maymay, ano ba siya ngayon. Para 'yung gagawin namin na album and concert, dapat talaga authentic. Pag ginawa namin 'to, ibibigay ni Maymay 'yung 100%,” says Santos. In fact, they loved “Amakabogera” so much that the team made two versions of it, with a tropical remix coming out in the EP on Nov. 19.

The song “Amakabogera” and her first single “Di Kawalan,” was written by members of Santos’s team, but are based purely on Maymay’s “state of heart at the moment.” Though she’s had experience writing songs since high school, choosing both singles served as Maymay’s lightbulb moments in deciding what direction she wanted to take with her sound moving forward. “Sobrang tutok ako kasi third album ko na 'to, dapat mahanap ko na 'yung genre ko, 'yung swak sa boses ko,” she says of her hands-on experience producing the EP.

Overall, she wants to share her victory with her supporters, who she recognizes may also have gone through similar challenges given the current situation in the country. She says, “Gusto kong i-share sa mga listeners at sa mga taong sumosoporta sa akin na isa 'tong victory kumbaga nanalo, hindi lang ako, at gusto ko kasama sila doon sa celebration na 'yon na panalo, na pinili ko maging ok, na pinili 'kong maging masaya muli at gusto kong mai-feel sa kanila na hindi sila nagiisa kasi lalo na sa pandemya.”

Here, Maymay and Santos talk about producing “Mpowered” and what to expect at her upcoming concert on Nov. 26.

Interview and video by SAMANTHA LEE