Darren Espanto On Finding His Music
If you were to look up the name ‘Darren Espanto’ on Google or YouTube, one of the top results will most likely be his 2014 audition on ABS-CBN’s ‘The Voice Kids’. In the viral audition, then-13-year-old Darren sang Jessie J’s hit ‘Domino’, which got him the chair turns of Coach Bamboo and Coach Sarah. He also earned the title of Mr. Domino after the audition--whose video now has over 27 million views.
And for a young dreamer like him, Darren surely felt like a rockstar when he was dubbed as such. But did you know that when he was younger, the now-20-year-old wasn’t as outgoing as he is now?
“Isa po ako sa palaging kumakanta pag family karaoke nights, pero ang problema sa ‘kin wala akong confidence,” he cutely shared with us. “Sobra ‘yung pagiging mahiyain ko--iiyak pa ‘ko bago pa nila ‘ko mapa-kanta ‘pag may ibang bisita, ‘pag hindi lang kami.”
Who would’ve thought that Darren, who now confidently sings and dances on stage and appears regularly on TV was a shy kid back then? But as they say, time can change everything.
Fast forward to a few years later, that once shy kid now even has his own YouTube channel! And alongside that confidence boost, Darren has also found his own sound.
On Darren: Pink Trenchcoat, Austeen Soriano
Finding his own sound
For a few years after his The Voice Kids stint, Darren had always been tied to songs that had high notes which showed his belting prowess. Songs similar to his “signature” song Domino, and his TVK version of ‘One Moment in Time’ by the late Whitney Houston, was mostly what Darren performed on stage.
But now, the singer has discovered the path he wants to take music-wise and how he’s taking the reins on creative decisions in his career. “The type of music I put out is usually R&B or pop, a few ballads din as well kasi nagsimula naman po talaga akong balladeer-type,” Darren shared. “But before, I admit when my label would send demos, I would just say yes because I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a kid. I didn’t know what type of music I wanted to put out pa. I was just happy I was having singles and albums.”
“Recently talaga, nag-focus na ‘ko sa sound na gusto kong i-put out for everyone to hear,” he excitedly answered. Darren added that he has recently also been more hands on when it came to writing songs and has even found the courage to decline songs that were offered to him! “Ngayon, sinasabi ko na talagang I don’t like the song,” he said.
Darren also added that before, he wouldn’t re-record any song--whatever he initially recorded will be the one to get released. “As a kid, I was okay with that [first recording]. But now, minsan talaga bumabalik ako sa studio or I’ll set up my mic at home and record the parts I wanna cure,” he says. He even shared that there has been songs that were already fully recorded but were scrapped and re-recorded!
Breaking away from his “kiddie” image
The change in how Darren approaches his music is probably also part of breaking away from the old “Darren” that we got to know several years ago. The image that was built on the TVK stage and remained until who knows when. The youthful image that started out his entire career.
Darren has now grown up right in front of our eyes, and it’s a refreshing sight to see. He now knows what he wants to do in his career and he knows now what sound he wants to make!
In this new ‘era’ of Darren and his career, we asked what the “More Mature Darren” means. His reply? “The mature Darren now is not afraid to voice out his opinions, and hindi na siya takot tumanggi sa mga ideas sa team niya. Mas hands on na siya at ‘di na niya nililimitahan ang sarili niya as much as before.”
On Darren: Full ensemble, Rubri / Accessories, Whatdapperswant
“Hindi puwedeng buong buhay mo naka-restrict ka sa isang box or image people have of you,” Darren said. “You have to know what’s good and what’s not for yourself and for the growth of your career,” he added.
“But also at a personal aspect, I’d say the more mature version of Darren now is na-e-enjoy ko na ‘yung adulting na pagbili ng mga appliances, mga simpleng bagay na ganu’n,” the singer shared while laughing. “[I’m now] more responsible. The only downside to it is when bills come in, and you have to pay your taxes and stuff like that. But other than that, I’m pretty much enjoying the more mature Darren!”
Words by Mark Baccay
Produced by Philip Vargas
Photography and Creative direction by Rxandy Capinpin
Styling by Rodel Brinas
Hair and Makeup by Mycke Arcano
Final Art and Editing by Joe Andy
Fashion film and video editing by Christina Zabat
Special Thanks to Christine Alonzo, Jhacky Lou, and UMUSIC Philippines