The stuff of rising OPM artist Paolo Sandejas

This indie pop artist isn’t just getting recognition from BTS’ V — we’ve learned more about his inspirations, interests, and future plans!

MANILA, Philippines — By now you’ve probably heard of Paolo Sandejas, the OPM artist whose song “Sorry” BTS’ V sang in his vlog. While the 21-year-old IT major initially dubbed “Sorry” as his heartbreaking anthem, the track breathed new life into his music career two years after its release.

“It was a difficult heartbreak in the sense that I had a lot of things that I never got to tell this person. And so [the song] was my way of ending this relationship and just venting all my regrets and feelings out into the universe,” Paolo told Rappler in an interview.

Her romantic misfortunes unexpectedly translated into a quick wave of success. From V’s vlog alone, Paolo quickly gained traction among local and international BTS fans – otherwise known as ARMY – and began to see his music steadily climb the charts. It wasn’t long before his monthly listener count on Spotify topped 350,000.

But beyond his starring role in the BTS member’s YouTube video, Paolo has already proven he’s on his way to “feeling at home” as one of the Philippines’ most beloved local artists.

Swinging with the odds

Growing up listening to soft rock-pop blues artists like John Mayer, Paolo had experienced early on the magical ability of music to leave a lasting impact on listeners with the right blend of notes. Eventually, Paolo tried his hand at composing his own songs in his early teens.

“I wrote some [of songs] and they were really bad to begin with. I was maybe 13 or 14,” the 21-year-old shared. “It was always just a happy place for me to express myself and process the things I was going through as a young teenager and now [as a] young adult.

Despite this, becoming a recording artist had never really been an immediate dream for Paolo; all he knew was that the music touched him. But his affinity for music only solidified day by day — so much so that in 2018 he decided to perform in another high school’s Battle of the Best competition.

Paolo emerged victorious twice that day. In addition to winning the top prize, he was then scouted by Universal Records, to which he is still signed today. Since then, his new career as an OPM recording artist has been nothing short of successful. With 10 singles and an EP, Paolo is just getting started.

To play hide and seek

Fueled by the mundane, Paolo draws his creative inspiration from what seems ordinary. Listening to his favorite playlist and enjoying the different sounds he hears on the radio might seem like a completely normal thing, but that’s when his songwriting prowess hits its peak.

“Let’s say I’m in the car and I hear a song on the radio, and I like what [the artist] done with the chord progression or how they sang the melody. I think, ‘Maybe I can incorporate that into my own sound,'” shared Paolo, who described his music as an ongoing process of exploration and experimentation.

But like any creative, he is bound to certain things that will hinder his progress as a rising musician. Paolo’s most resounding struggle – other than the occasional writer’s block – is finding an audience to appreciate his craft.

“It’s really hard to find people [who will listen]especially when people don’t know you,” he said.

But with his ability to cross different genres and take on different musical personalities, it looks like that won’t be a problem for Paolo for the foreseeable future. Although he found himself racing to fit his music into just one genre, this dilemma ended up working out well for him.

On days when it feels upbeat, jazzy and carefree, it appeals to a specific set of listeners. Meanwhile, on days when his lyrics elicit feelings of melancholy, an entirely different audience rushes in – showing that his difficult quest to find a single, distinct audience to share his music with was something he didn’t need to s worried from the start.

As Paolo continues to attract new listeners, he hopes to leave behind a remarkable legacy – a legacy of positivity, growth and encouragement.

“I want people to feel good — to help them calm down, relax, and find solace and solace if they’re going through something like grief,” he said.

Even after finally graduating in Computer Science in December, Paolo will still be here to stay. His music will go down as one of the best mediums for people to find the closure and peace of mind they deserve.

Paolo is just beginning to enter the new era of his music. With an exciting new EP and a few more singles to come, they are already well on their way to realizing their dream of establishing themselves as one of Asia’s go-to indie-pop bands. As Paolo proudly graces the world with more of his musical ingenuity, he’ll show everyone that he’s definitely not just the guy whose song BTS’ V sang. –

Juno Reyes is a Rappler trainee.

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