In an imperfect world where friendships are fleeting, where money slips though our fingers faster than we can count it, when we often run out of time right before we reach the top of the climb, We are reminded to celebrate the things and people that matter most … while we still can.I see the little changes around me- friends that come and go, loves and losses and the lessons they bring, growing pains that come with each season… telling me to start over. As I take another trip around the sun, I would like to take this time to celebrate WHAT MATTERS MOST — all of you. This song is a little birthday treat to everyone who has remained in my life and inspired me to continue making music.
“What Matters Most” was written with sleepless eyes in the midst of a hot summer sunrise after wrapping up another production session. I recall going down the media rabbit hole to de-brief from another song we had just finished. Producer Gabe Dandan and I found ourselves immersed in the soundtrack of the film “Cadillac Records” featuring blues greats such as Etta James, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.
“The inspiration for ‘What Matters Most’ was mostly quartet music from the 50s-60s. Nicole’s vocal versatility spans many styles and genres of music but I think she sounds at home and authentic in this setting.”
Sometimes you just have to let songs that draw inspirations from classic roots retain that classic sound. “The main focus of the simple no nonsense arrangement was to keep the song era-accurate with modern treatment and post production.”
“No doubt “What Matters Most” is a love song… I wanted to carve a little a space in time where I could freely celebrate love and the astronomical feeling of being loved through and through. I had these lyrics and a simple melody for this song scribbled somewhere for weeks before. Bits and pieces of the song were scattered in lost minutes between production sessions of other songs. I had also casually jammed versions of this theme with some friends before but it was after revisiting the blues greats that the song and lyrics took its final form. We finished recording the demo at 7:30am and for the sake of staying loyal to the song’s theme…. went out for a stack of celebratory pancakes.” – Nicole
“Working with Nicole is smooth because our writing chemistry is instant and natural, we have a dynamic where we can both freely express ourselves and understand our creative palettes and processes, this is also why we get along so well. She usually begins by humming a melody, then I make chords that work with it and we build it up from there.” – Gabe
Gabe and I called Dan Gil (veteran producer and composer) to join in and take over keys recording duties, Gavino Sabalburo’s drums and Timpani recordings from Marvin Querido and ONQ studio made for a wonderful companionship and Gabe took over bass and guitar duties. Veteran engineer Angee Rozul took over tracking duties. It was a no-frills recording with simple instrumentation laced with incessant laughter and a cheerful round of drinks afterwards. There were times I was tempted to add a horns section or back-up vocals, but this time around I think the simplicity was needed. I was convinced by my co-musicians to keep it simple, light and happy. I probably have a lot of things to ‘hugot’ about…. and yes I have been writing about that too… Pero ayoko muna humugot… this isn’t the song for it… saka na ‘yan…. Let’s just stay in love for a little while… kahit mga five-ish minutes lang and celebrate the things that matter most.
“There wasn’t much post production to be done, at most it was just choosing from ad-lib takes and minimal curing for some instruments. Nicole does all her vocal comp-ing in her home studio. When the recording was done we sent it to Mr. Waxie G. Joaquin to mix and master the track and bring it to life.” – Gabe
Waxified Sound Production indeed brought the sound back to that retro era with their post production and spacial audio experience. The track was mixed and mastered in Dolby Atmos by: Waxie G. Joaquin of Waxiefied Sound Production.
“What Matters Most.” is a sonic ride back in time to a 60s diner in a dreamy, creamy-white Cadillac. This five minute track encapsulates that nostalgic feeling of falling freely in love— no regrets, no holding back. A classic yet crispy new take on no-nonsense blues. Nicole’s one-of-a-kind vocals are a red-hot lipstick stain on a tall strawberry milkshake- tastefully showcased with the perfect balance of grit, grease, soulfulness and vulnerability while delectably dripping over the band’s perfectly ripened musical sensibilities and honest expression—the cherry on top.
“In the coming months you can definitely expect more music in a spectrum of different styles and stories, We enjoy creating with different musicians, so each song is a treat, making music is our favourite thing to do.” – Gabe
There are countless songs in progress as of today, it’s a matter of staying in love with the process and putting in the work to release each one into the world. patience, trust, time are all part of it, but staying in love with the process is what I am learning is perhaps the most important part. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been part of my life and music journey thus far. I am grateful for you all and for all the God given chances to make music for you. Let’s celebrate love and make every minute matter with the ones who matter most.
The music video is set to be released mid July with a double music video launch event (Nicole is set to launch another secret music video) The event is open to public and will be held at 9pm in Salon De Ning, Manila Peninsula Hotel on August 1, 2023. More details will be announced in her social media accounts:
Nicole Laurel Asensio (FB)