Paolo Sandejas

How Paolo Sandejas Helps Shape OPM For The New Generation

Paolo Sandejas shares his music creation process, getting noticed by V, and being part of the new OPM

Indie pop artist Paolo Sandejas treats his songs like his “babies.” This comes with good reason. After all, he makes each of his songs from scratch—he writes the words, composes the music, and sings it out of his heart.

He says, “I love them all because, siyempre, they also tell my stories and, at the same, time it’s like I’m such a big part of the creation of each and every one of them. So, I really treasure that.”

Sandejas is the artist behind the song titled “Sorry,” which made noise in 2022 when it was sung in a vlog by no less than V—a member of the phenomenal Korean pop group BTS.

In an exclusive interview with FreebieMNL for Spotify’s RADAR program, Sandejas takes us through his process and his viewpoint of the current OPM scene.

Paolo Sandejas’ beginnings

Songwriting is something that Sandejas has loved since his teenage years. It all started in his bedroom, writing what he feels about specific moments from his personal experiences.

He shares: “I enjoyed writing music. It’s my way of processing things I was going through as a teenager—mga first love, mga heartbreaks, and stuff like that. It’s a nice way for me to internalize those stuff and emotions and also remember how things were at a specific point in time. It’s just my way of coping with the things around me and my environment.”

At the time, music was all about just expressing his own experiences: “It was never really my intention to ‘Oh, come this year, I’m gonna be signed by this label and I’m gonna get my music out of the world.’ It was just me writing music until the day I die.”

However, things changed in 2017. He recalls, “I did a talent show lang for a friend in a Chinese school sa San Juan. They invited me to perform for their talent show. ‘Tapos [sabi ko], ‘Okay, sige, why not?’”

What happened next would become the jumpstart of his music career: “After that, a label approached me, my label now—Universal Records—and asked if I’m willing to sign and I’ve been with them and it’s been a wonderful journey, just of growing as an artist and learning about this crazy industry but also amazing industry,” he says with a smile.

Paolo Sandejas
Paolo Sandejas
Photography by Wilmark Jolindon

Reshaping OPM

Since then, creating music for Sandejas has become more intentional, which is evident in the song he releases.

He explains, “I try not to do the same thing twice with my music. I try to keep pushing my own sound forward. Let’s say, if I make a song, the next song is not gonna be the exact same thing. It’s always like experimenting with new synthesizers, new electric guitar riffs, and I think that’s what helps me stay creative also—by just to keep pushing my sound forward.”

He is also grateful to be considered part of the new generation of Pinoy singers, giving a new shape and breathing new life into what OPM is today.

How would he describe the OPM of his generation? Sandejas answers, “I think, now, everyone’s taking it out of the box talaga. Before, medyo like harana talaga siya or it’s like more ballads, di ba? Before, there was like an emphasis on making music like that because that’s what sold. Pero, now, a lot of the newer generation of artists, we don’t have to just do that, we can be more. We can be rockstars, we can also do haranas but we can also do indie pop, which is like my thing now. And I really love that people are experimenting and going out of their comfort zone.”

But definitely, Sandejas has big respect for their predecessors who made OPM what it is today. “Siyempre, we have to pay homage also to OPM artists before us like sila Ely Buendia, Eraserheads, even IV of Spades. It kind of paved the way for my generation din kasi sila yung unang OPM artists that I really looked up to because of what they did for the scene. It’s just so nice to be part of that parang new changemakers trying to pave the way for the younger—next generation din to kind of pick up the guitar and pick up the mic to create music. So, it’s truly an honor.”

READ: Paolo Sandejas’ New Single “Hide And Seek” Is About Finally Finding The One

Paolo Sandejas’ BTS moment

It was in July 2022 when Sandejas broke into the news after his song, “Sorry,” made it to BTS V’s vlog. Sandejas has been vocal about being grateful to V for singing his song and calls it a “miracle” up to today.

But apart from being noticed by a popular, international singer, Sandejas is also grateful for the long-lasting opportunity that opened because of that.

He says, “It’s still amazing to think about and remember din kasi siyempre, nag-die down naman siya, it’s kind of mellowed out, it’s not like the viral craze that it was when it happened. But I think, looking back now, it was such an amazing opportunity again for me to get to know all these listeners outside of the country. I had some messages from India, from Spain, from Brazil. It was so nice for them to just stumble upon my music through this miracle or like chance happening through V. So, I’m just grateful that he liked the song and decided to play it on his vlog. So, I’m just lucky and grateful.”

Of his song being noticed by V, Sandejas remarks, “[It’s] super nice to know that someone of V’s caliber of BTS is like, worldwide listening to my music. It’s insane to think about.”

Of course, he is very much thankful for his supportive fans, who also add drive for him to continue making music. “It’s great for me to hear because now, I’m writing not just for me but for other people listening to my music. So, I’m trying to tell their stories as well [in] some kind of way. So, it’s nice for them to be part of the journey and to continue supporting me. So, I’m really grateful to everyone who’s been part of my journey so far.”

Paolo Sandejas
Paolo Sandejas
Photo by Wilmark Jolindon

Spotify RADAR program

Amplifying Sandejas’ passion to up the ante of his music and of OPM, he is announced as part of Spotify’s RADAR program for 2023. RADAR is Spotify’s global program that supports emerging artists by helping them reach new audiences.

Of this, Sandejas says, “It’s a huge help definitely, kasi alam mo naman na there are so many artists, so many amazing artists in the scene today. This opportunity from Spotify is just a way for me to kind of—in a competitive way—stay ahead and keep my sound at the forefront of people’s minds in Spotify. It’s a great opportunity for me to just put my music out there and get that wider audience that all musicians want. So, it’s a great great opportunity.”

Sandejas is honored to become part of this list, which includes a wide variety of artists such as P-Pop groups, Hiphop artists, and solo acts.

He expounds, “All artists want this to be seen talaga, to know people are listening, and this is such an honor for me to know that Spotify noticed also and said, ‘Hey, we want to take you into our program,’ and it’s such a huge huge honor to know that Spotify is listening and super great.”

The future of Paolo Sandejas’ music

With his music, Sandejas just can’t rest on his laurels. In fact, as of this writing, he just released his new song, “Aftertaste.”

However, in coming up with new songs, he admits that “there was definitely a lot of internal conflict” after V noticed his song and “Sorry” raked in a lot of listens on Spotify. He says, “Siyempre, there’s a lot of pressure na should you do another version of ‘Sorry?’ Should you keep making songs like ‘Sorry’ since it blew up?”

But at the end of the day, Sandejas just returned to his core as an artist. “I decided I can’t set talaga because I don’t feel like an artist if I’m just doing the same thing over and over again and trying to reproduce my success in a certain song. So, my next songs for me are definitely gonna be me exploring my own personal sound and what I enjoy doing. So what you can expect from me this year is more exploration, and for me understanding my own personal taste in music. I’m excited to share that with my listeners.”

Photographer Wilmark Jolindon

Banner Art Dani Sison

Production Spotify and FreebieMNL

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