Pop radio listeners for the past few months might have heard of a techno-driven pop ditty called "Hey Daydreamer."
That can actually be an understatement, as the song has been on the top of the music charts for quite a while now. Its infectious electro beats, rhythmic keys, and catchy tunes have caught the young listeners by storm. When it was revealed that the song was locally produced, reactions ranged from disbelief to a desperate desire to watch the artist live.
The guy behind the song? A 20-year-old Ateneo student named Rez Toledo, more popularly known as Somedaydream.
"I formed Somedaydream almost three years ago, when I was 18," said Toledo. "I was heavily influenced by the likes of Owl City and The Secret Handshake, up-and-coming pop artists [in turn] influenced by these electronic sounds. I had a few songs and then I started to regain interest in playing the piano. But then I decided to buy a synthesizer. From there I started experimenting with the electronic genre, with the use of laptop synthesizers, recording my own songs."
These songs ended up on his MySpace page, which became popular among his friends and peers. Before he knew it, his output fell on the ears of former Hale singer Champ Lui Pio, who in turn became interested in helping this new artist out.
Help came in the form of producing his album, and eventually it expanded to managing Somedaydream.
"Then after a while," added Champ, "I thought 'why not just put up a label and then put him under that label?"
That label became Mecca Music, which also recently released the official music video for "Hey Daydreamer."
The video was curiously directed by actress Bianca King and had other big-name stars such as Rhian Ramos and Bubbles Paraiso as part of its production crew. And they did it for free.
"We're very, very thankful to them, sobra," added Champ.
With these big names backing him up, Somedaydream seems to be geared for success. After all, being played on radio for six months is already a big deal these days. But success always comes with detractors. Especially towards Toledo's use of that popular-but-oft-maligned tool, the Auto-tune.
"With electronic music a great percentage of the notes we play are exact, unlike in usual guitar-oriented music where you hit a lot of dissonance. What it does with the voice is it makes it exact, in the same way all the other instrumentation is exact. It really complements electronic music. It's an effect."
But doesn't the human element get lost?
"There's this big misconception that anyone who uses Auto-tune can sing. Anyone who uses it can be in-scale, but not necessarily in tune. Don't use Auto-tune if you don't know how to sing, because it will not work for you."
His mentor added, "There should always be a certain level of balance. His album doesn't have the auto-tune all out. There are certain songs that require it, [therefore] he uses it. Each song has it's own identity. If the auto-tune complements that song, why not use it?"
It may be this nuance—this signature, used properly—that has added to "Daydreamer's" appeal not just as a "Pinoy" song, but on a more universal level. Locally though, it has at least gained him new listeners. What started as a success on a personal level, with his family and friends listening to the radio again has translated to a wider listenership, interested again in what the Pinoy has to offer.
"I'm really grateful for everything that has happened in the past few months," wraps up Toledo. "We haven't even started yet. I'm still coming up with an album, which I guess is my best offer. I'm grateful for all the votes, the support, for liking the music, for appreciating what's new and my view of music."
After more than a decade of being subjected to endless remakes, Pinoy pop music is back. And it's sounding real good.