Siargao inspires Singaporean artist Linying’s new music

Charmie Joy Pagulong - The Philippine Star
Siargao inspires Singaporean artist Linying�s new music
Singaporean singer-songwriter Linying shares that she got mesmerized by the beauty of Siargao that she penned the lyrics of her single ‘Happiness’ shortly after her trip to the island. She also included some snippets from her Siargao sojourn in her music video.
Photo by Michelle Mei

MANILA, Philippines — The laid-back vibes, scenic spots, beautiful beaches and sunset views, along with the hospitality of locals and presence of fellow tourists in Siargao, make the perfect combination for artists like Linying to draw inspiration from in creating music.

In fact, the first time Linying set foot on Siargao in February 2023 when she was invited by Nadine Lustre to collaborate for a track, the Singaporean singer-songwriter fell in love with the teardrop-shaped island in the province of Surigao del Norte. Her visit to the surfing haven paved the way for her “post-breakup freedom” anthem Happiness, as part of her EP’s House Mouse under Nettwerk Music Group.

The bouncy, vibrant tune Happiness is the first song she wrote for her EP. “I think it came a time where there was a lot of changes going on with my life,” she told The STAR in an exclusive Zoom chat. She was in Siargao at the time of the interview.

“And part of that was picking up surfing, which is the whole reason why I (came to) know about Siargao in the first place. It’s because my production partner Josh Wei and then, we write a lot of songs together. And this Filipina artist Nadine, she invited me and Josh to come to Siargao to write a song for her (titled Overgrown).

“So, I remember that project where I was like, ‘Why are we going to this creepy island? (It’s) too quiet, there’s no studio, there are no microphones and we had to bring all our gears ourselves?’ And I was like, ‘Why are we in this island when we could have done this in Manila?’

“But I think, there was something special in the timing when that happened because when we arrived on the island, I immediately understood why it’s a magical place, why it’s so full of inspiration. And the people were really kind, the whole staff and yeah, we really had a beautiful time. And that’s when I decided to pick up some of the things because everybody said Siargao is famous for surfing.”

The indie-pop musician was also at the point in her life where she wanted to try something new. “I tried it and it brought me so much peace and confidence, and that’s about the time where the idea came about,” she shared. 

“Because I really, fully started to understand how beautiful it can be when you stay present in the moment because this is something that teaches you, right,” she further mused. “Like you can’t overthink (and) you can’t think too much on what happened before and what happened after.”

“Because when you are in the water, you have to see what’s coming right in front of you. And to make the decision immediately. So, I realized that when you do that, when you are able to move along with the water and not to resist it, you really get to enjoy the sweetness and the beauty of like riding a wave and just enjoy the present moment,” reflected Linying on the sentiments she expressed in her song Happiness.

Besides applying the lesson she gleaned from surfing to life’s musings, the “special” vibes in Siargao also became a source of inspiration for her in making music. As she elaborated, “It’s like a vibe where everybody lives in the moment but at the same time, it’s not like a crazy party town. You know what I mean? It’s not like Bali or Phuket or like the place where people are forgetting all the time and drinking. It’s like everyone who decided to make a life here, they think very deeply about what they wanna do with their life.

“And just an appreciation for nature and community, and you just drive down the beach and you look at the sunset and you remember what life is about.”

She was really mesmerized by the magic of Siargao that she penned the lyrics of Happiness shortly after her Siargao trip. She included some snippets of her visit to the island in her music video.

“I really thought about it then I started kinda putting all together the lessons. But that first trip to Siargao, we were only meant to work with Nadine for five days, and we thought, ‘OK, we will write a song for one or two days and we’re gonna have fun for three days and we will leave,’” she recalled.

“And when I first got to Siargao, everybody told me, ‘Oh you’re gonna end up extending your trip. You’re definitely gonna do that.’” As she was not the impulsive type, she initially said, “It’s not gonna happen to me.”

But at the end of their trip, she and Josh had second thoughts about leaving the island. “So, shall we stay, shall we go? We flipped the coin and then the coin said we should (stay). So, we stayed. I ended up extending it, like, three times.” And so, what was supposed to be just a five-day stay became a total of two weeks.

Meanwhile, she described her collaboration with Nadine as a “cool experience.”

“Nadine has an extremely sensitive soul, she’s like giving,” Linying said of the actress-singer. “And I really appreciated how open she was in talking about her personal experience because as a songwriter, when I write songs for other artists, you really need to know them, like get to know what’s going on inside their mind.”

She continued, “I don’t like for us to like, ‘OK, how do we make a song? What kind of song do we wanna make? Let’s make it.’ I always like to take the first three hours, like, let’s have a meal, let’s chat, tell me everything that’s going on in your mind and in your life. And then we go into the session and start writing.

“And I think, it can be very hard for an artist to open up because you’ve just met. Why would you tell someone else all your deepest feelings and experiences?”

But to Linying’s surprise, in Nadine’s case, the Filipina artist was “very transparent.” She shared, “She talked a lot about how she like gone through some hard stuff. And the meaning on that song, like with the lyrics, ‘Even though the rain is gone/ I’m a little overgrown/ Baby, that’s the way it goes,’ is now the bad times are over.

“But at the same time, you’ve already grown so much. Like, we put on so many defense mechanisms, so much armor and even though things are good now, we will never be the same as we were before.

“And I think the way we came up with that metaphor is because we were in this place that is so full of life. Just green everywhere like the place where we wrote, making the music, we were surrounded by trees. I think it was raining all the time because it was rainy season.”

Linying concluded that she will be always grateful to Nadine for inviting her over to Siargao and experience the beauty of the island.

Linying’s first single was the Spotify viral Sticky Leaves which was part of her 2016 debut EP, Paris 12. She previously collaborated with London-based Singaporean singer-songwriter-producer Charlie Lim, Melbourne producer and electronic artist Katz for the track Definitely.

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