After the release of 2016 sophomore album “Be With Me” in CDs and promotional tour in Singapore and Korea, Darren Espanto will hopefully be another household name in Malaysia as he collaborates with the Asian’ neighbor’s teen singer and online sensation Nik Qistina.
Our proudly Pinoy boy was featured on Qistina’s single “Young Hearts” (Stripped Version), while she returned the favor by lending her vocals on Espanto’s single “My Baby and Me.” Both tracks are included in Espanto’s Deluxe Version of “Be With Me,” which topped iTunes Philippines album charts on the day of their release back in May.
Qistina flew to Manila recently to shoot the music videos of both singles and to promote the songs on radio and TV with Espanto.
The talented girl’s career after she started by posting her videos on YouTube, Instagram and Vine, which caught the attention of Universal Music Malaysia. Long story short, she released her debut single “Young Hearts” shortly after in 2016, and opened for various stars including American singer-songwriter Greyson Chance besides other performances in Malaysia.
Music Geek got to know more about the two artists where they talked about their collaboration, their music videos, how they got along, and dealing with fame.
How did the collaboration come about?
Nik Qistina: We have the same record label (Universal Music) but from different countries. My record label sat down with me and said would you like to work with Darren Espanto? I thought that we can get along on and off stage and I said yes to the collaboration.
Darren Espanto: I really like her song and her voice is just unique and chill. When MCA Music and Universal Music Malaysia said we are going to collaborate, I was very happy because I’ve always wanted to do a song that was not upbeat and too powerful, I should say. Young Hearts is just very chill so I was just happy to have a collaboration like that.
What is Young Hearts about?
NQ: It’s about coming to a realization of loving yourself first before anyone else.
Can you tell us about My Baby and Me?
DE: My Baby and Me is from my second album. It’s another song where we collaborated. It’s very upbeat. It’s about telling people we’ve got a thing no one understands—like you two in your own little world.
How was shooting the music videos together, both directed by Paul Basinilio?
NQ: Very fun. We shot Young Hearts at Robinsons Galleria when it was still not open. Scenes got delayed a little and people were already coming intp the mall. But the people are very sweet despite ous shooting there. For My Baby and Me, it was shot in the studio. You can expect a lot of dancing.
DE: It was very early. We started at 6 am and ended at 8:30 pm. But it was all worth it. We really enjoyed it. There was a lot of dancing. I’m excited about how artistic the music videos are going to be.
Who are your musical inspirations?
NQ: For me Beyonce is one of my role models. She is intelligent, focused and determined to get what she wants. To me, she is a living legend.
DE: For me, it’s Bruno Mars and Beyonce. If it were legends, it would be Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.
How conscious are you with image and how do you promote yourselves on social media?
NQ: I try my best to be myself in front of camera and out. But for social media, I know that it can really be tricky. I try my best to limit what I say or what I post so people won’t get different meanings.
DE: Being a role model especially to younger kids is important to me. In this industry, everyone watches what you do. On social media, I limit myself to what I say or what I post. The Darren they see on my social media is the Darren in real life. I’m very open to my fans so they know me pretty well.
How is your relationship with your fans? Do you get affected by negative feedback?
DE: I like to interact with my fans. I just ignore negative feedback. But if it is “good” negative feedback, the type that will make you grow as a person, I listen to it. When you reply to negative feedback, it will just make the issue bigger.
NQ: I would only reply to fans if they interact with me. I don’t really listen to negative comments because I surround myself with good people, who give me the assurance that I need. Except, if it’s about my performance because you can learn from that. My fans have been very sweet to me and I’m happy for that.
What is the best compliment you got on social media?
DE: That I’m handsome, kidding! That my dancing and singing have improved.
NQ: I love the comments about what I should do like when I post videos. The best thing that I’ve gotten is that they see me grow, they encourage me and are inspired by my journey. They say things like I’ve seen you when you were this age and you continue to succeed. That inspires me to be stronger and better.
What has fame taught you?
DE: It’s bittersweet. It’s not always something that you will enjoy all the time. It’s not something that is really easy like what they see on TV.
NQ: It’s not really easy to deal with negativity when you are trying your best to pursue your dreams. Sometimes, it’s good and you get lost in the moment but sometimes when it is a bad moment, you just can’t help it.
What have you learned about yourself as an artist with this collaboration?
NQ: I learned to be confident and conscious at what I’m doing and who I’m dealing with. I also learned a lot from my performances and interviews. I just have to be in the moment and appreciate what I have.
DE: What I learned from this collaboration is kaya ko pala yung hindi masyado bumirit.
Nik, what do you think of the Philippines so far? Would you consider having a career here?
NQ: I love the Philippines so far. If God wills, yes I would love to have a career here.
Darren, what was your first impression of Nik?
She is very approachable, just chill and relaxed. After a while, it is really not about my first impression. I notice that she is very driven and has so much passion for music.
What is working with each other like?
NQ: Well, he is very talented. He’s always singing. He’s very easy to work with.
DE: We just enjoyed everything. It didn’t feel like work when I was with her. We can relate to one another. We talked a lot. It was a lot of fun working with her.