Nicole Asensio on why recording ‘Bawal’ was ‘masarap’

Nicole Asensio is back with a new single, “Bawal,” a collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Gabe Dandan.

The track began as an impromptu jam when Dandan put down his guitar and started playing the keyboards. Writing the song initially took only 30 minutes, Asencio recalled.

“This is one of the simplest lyrical expressions I have written,” she said, “nothing poetic here, just a sentiment revolving around the question: ‘Bakit masarap kapag bawal?’

“It was one of those instances na halos sabay lumabas ‘yung lyrics and melody, and halos tapos na ’yung song form in the first session. I was led into the song by the chords. The song is a slow, soulful blend of sultriness and the melancholy of desiring something you can’t have.”

Said Dandan: “I like working with Nicole because I am inclined to improvisation-style writing. Nicole encourages that environment. Her brain is like a factory for making lyrics, the workflow is seamless.”

The musicians who played on “Bawal” are Otep Concepcion (drums), Rommel de la Cruz (bass), Nikko Rivera (keyboards), Ted Amper (cello), Lester Sorilla (trumpet), Mike Luis (vocal arrangement, backup vocals), and Dandan (guitar, percussion, backup vocals).

The track was mixed by Angee Rozul and mastered in Dolby Atmos by Waxified Sound Production.

Dandan recounted feeling anxious before recording commenced: “That was pretty scary. I went early to calm my nerves. When the guys arrived, it went smoothly. I knew what I wanted to do, but these guys were so good, I didn’t have to say much, just a little guiding and they did their thing. It was a fun process. Post-production was easy and efficient. Nicole is very honest, she makes sure to tell me what she wants while we’re still in the (recording) process and not when everything is done. I appreciate that.”

Asensio’s insights: “The beautiful thing about songwriting is, technically, walang bawal… you can write about anything, anyone and everything… you can use any note, rhythm, topic, lyric that reflects your soul and sentiment… Marami ngang bawal, ngunit sa paglikha, lahat puwede. This is why creativity proves to be my greatest purpose and escape. There’s no telling where the creative chase will lead, but one thing’s for sure, it’s never futile, and is always “masarap.”

“Bawal” is on digital music platforms starting 28 October.

Follow Nicole Asensio on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram (@nicoleasensio).

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