After what felt like forever, Filipino artist No Rome’s highly-anticipated debut album “It’s All Smiles” has finally arrived — and we’re here to say it: yes, it’s definitely worth the wait!
Born Guendoline Rome Viray Gomez, the London-based artist described his debut album as his most different body of work.
Apart from the musicality, the 24-year-old artist’s 10-track record hits close to his home for a number of reasons but most especially because he wrote some of the songs from the album and finished creating the album in Manila — and during the pandemic, at that.
“It’s one of those cases where I was going to stay there for a couple of months then, the couple of months turned into a year,” he told FreebieMNL in an interview via Zoom.
No Rome recalled how he was supposed to perform at the Wanderland Music & Arts Festival back in March 2020 when the show suddenly got canceled due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
“I was gonna play a show for Wanderland and then it didn’t push through. And then at that time, it was already late, the whole world was panicking. Honestly, it was the best idea to stay at home during the pandemic. I wouldn’t know what I’ve done if I was somewhere else, away from the family and whatnot. Everybody was like going home, going back to see their families and whatnot,” he said.
“Honestly, for me, it was a bit of an experience, you know? Just because I was fresh off the tour too,” he added.
Creating the album during the pandemic
No Rome also opened up about the challenges of creating his new album, citing different time zones as one of them.
“That was a different kind of experience like I’m kinda doing it like a little bedroom, against the floor. I usually write my music in like confined spaces like say my bedroom or wherever. But doing it remotely was different because everything was done over FaceTime,” he shared.
“Like my co-producer was in Minneapolis and I was in the Philippines you know, and that was 12 hours apart. So, every time we had to talk about the music, we find the right time like say like late night because 12AM would be 12PM at his time. Finding the whole time and finding the same spot because you know, like I said I was used to making music in the studio,” he added.
“So if like I want to change something, I could do it on the spot. That’s what it’s like. We had the wait for each other to wake up. But I’m used to doing that. That’s the thing. That’s how I started making music before,” he continued.
No Rome said it was also a bit of a challenge to find inspiration and motivation during the pandemic.
“The difference with the pandemic part is you’re trying to find motivation and inspiration to make music and to make art in general which was a bit hard. I mean that for everybody. So yeah, it was a challenge. But I found the positive side and the bright side of the things,” he remarked.
Different body of work
No Rome explored a different side of his musicality as artist, trying out the other side of the genre he’s used to making over the past years.
“The whole vibe of the music is more like a guitar-driven album, you know? I had an EP called “Crying in the Prettiest Places” which had like lots of guitar cuts and I feel like I went with that side of the music and I wanted to explore that side of the genre that I was able to make,” he said.
“Sonically, that’s kind of like what it is and there’s a lot of like playing production that makes it dark and hopeful. I’d say this is my most different body of work,” he added.
Talking about the theme behind his new album, he said: “It was basically just kind of smiling through everything. That’s why it’s called “It’s All Smiles” because amidst all the emotional and sentimental lyrics, like at the end of the day it’s just all smiles. And we move forward and we smile.”
Maturity, evolution as an artist
No Rome also talked about his evolution as an artist, saying he had eventually matured as he learned while listening to differents kinds of music throughout the years.
“Maturity and growing up and having like a change of taste in music. I feel like those will be the biggest points of like maturing in music. I started to listen to other music, I’m in that kind of phase anymore. And, it’s kinda learning a lot throughout the time, really, more knowledge through software and whatnot,” he said.
Admitting he was young when he started making music, No Rome credited his experiences in life for his growth as an artist.
“Experiences in life you know. I ended up writing different about different stuff, you know? I was seventeen, all I was thinking about was getting through college and falling in love, you know? When you grow up, you start thinking about other stuff and you start having different kinds of problems and you start having different kinds of friends, you know,” he said.
“So, that changed along with it: the stuff that you write, the stuff that you make, that inspires you. So I’d say like I’ve changed that way like just kind of maturing the way I make music. Just being in touch with myself, as time goes by, you get older, you get more in touch with yourself and you start to appreciate your influences, what’s made you, and embraces the way you make art in general,” he added.
Art Daniella Sison