One thing the 17-year-old singer-songwriter learned during the pandemic is that music never stops, with many artists creating songs and performing for fans in the comfort of their homes. While on home quarantine, she herself released Hulog Ni Bathala under PolyEast Records, a song she successfully recorded at home.
Sassa Dagdag coming into her own
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - July 7, 2020 - 12:00am

Sassa Dagdag is coming into her own as an artist.

Those who have followed this 17-year-old’s musical journey from being a three-chair turner in The Voice Kids (2015) to a Top 12 finalist in The Clash know very well that Sassa deserves any break coming her way — and hope for more spotlight on her talent.

Sassa, who’s turning 18 this month, is aware that people are expecting a lot from her after having made a name for herself somehow — a fan favorite especially online — through these contests. But she doesn’t mind biding her time. She’s not one to sit idle either, especially during the quarantine. She’s staying productive, sharpening skills and expressing herself in how she knows best.

One thing she learned during the pandemic is that the music never stops, pointing out the many artists are creating songs and performing for fans in the comfort of their homes.

During the lockdown, Sassa herself released Hulog Ni Bathala under PolyEast Records, a song she successfully recorded at home. Her older brother and constant music collaborator Bryant Dagdag became her sound engineer and vocal coach.

“With the technology available at home, I’m just thankful for my brother who helped me out in recording this song and we enjoyed every moment we bonded together,” she said.

On Facebook, in an appreciation post for her kuya, she wrote how they have always dreamt of doing music together.

“We both love music. Being in my personal space also makes me explore more on my artistic side like writing songs, painting and drawing,” she also said.

According to Sassa, Hulog Ni Bathala draws from personal experience. The song’s lyrics speak of her blooming into a young adult. She penned it at a time she felt inspired by someone and grateful for the inspiration. In the process of finishing the song, she lost that source of inspiration. “A love song with a twist,” she called it.

The way she writes is very spontaneous, very much driven by her feelings of the moment, and she’d rather bare it all in song than rant (on social media, for example).

She said of her experience with Hulog Ni Bathala: “I was playing some chords and immediately felt the vibe. It was kinda sad and the lyrics just came out naturally out my mouth. Some musicians always zone out while singing and playing the guitar, and go to this dimension (where) only your voice and musicality exist. It is a very beautiful feeling and I hope my listeners can feel this by listening to this song.”

Indeed, despite Hulog Ni Bathala being somewhat of an ode to heartbreak, there’s something uplifting about it. And her powerful vocals come across like a prayer, soft, soothing then soaring, that the single can take on other meanings during these trying times. “I see it as a ‘silver lining’ amidst this pandemic. With all uncertainties the world is going through, we can always turn to music to make us feel better,” Sassa said.

The young singer, who is also into other creative forms like drawing and painting, hopes to release more songs (maybe a full-length record?) under PolyEast in the months to come. In fact, she has already written several songs. The incoming Grade 12 student is more than ever determined to pursue a singing career, buoyed up by support from fans Sassanatics and her family.

In a MYX TV interview, Sassa shared how she deals with challenges and rejection as she keeps on going after her music dreams. “It’s tough and there are stages, nakakapag mental breakdown, but every time I come out on stage, I always remind myself why I started all of this in the first place. (I think of) my family,” she said. “Ang iniisp ko nalang — pinili ko to. So I should try my best everytime I perform on stage.”

Amid the pandemic, which has brought the music and concert scene to an indefinite pause, Sassa is using this time to continue finding her voice, her sound and her style. She credited her learnings in The Voice Kids and mentor Bamboo for teaching her how to own a song and treat every performance as if it’s her last. She has said in interviews that her experience in The Clash, on the other hand, helped her experiment and explore her musicality more. Sassa, who is leaning towards the lo-fi, jazzy, R&B genre, looks up and tries to learn from the examples set by current musical idols such as KZ Tandingan and Cebuana rapper Karencitta.

At the end of our interview, The STAR asked her for a quick message to fellow young people. “Hello fellow Gen Z’s! I know times like these can be quite difficult for we are restrained from socializing and so on, but I assure you that this is for our protection and safety. May we take this time to focus on improving ourselves and our attributes. Try not to go out if not necessary and always bring your alcohol with you, don’t forget to wear your masks and always take care!”

Hulog Ni Bathala is available on all digital platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music and YouTube for the lyric video.

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