Erik Santos on Celebrating Life, Taking Chances, and Living the Moment
It was in 2003 when the Philippines first saw him as the timid 21-year-old singer from Malabon, being introduced to viewers as one of the contestants of that year's biggest singing contest, Star in a Million. As soon as he started singing, this shy, naive, and youthful lad turned into a charismatic balladeer that swooned the entire country with his velvety, soulful, powerful, and versatile voice. At that moment, everyone knew that he would go the distance. It was Erik Santos.
Living up to his winning song, "This is the Moment," a song from the musical Jekyll & Hyde, Erik has taken his moment and quickly became one of the most significant musical discoveries in the country. From being the first "Star in a Million" grand champion, Erik made his way to becoming one of the greatest and quintessential balladeers of today's generation.
Much like Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, Jed Madela, Mark Bautista, and many more Pinoy balladeers, Erik Santos has become such a household name that it's easy to forget how everything started for him. And now, as the Pop Ballad Royalty, Erik Santos, is getting ready for his 20th anniversary next year, Erik shared some highlights and challenges he had throughout his career.
Life of a Balladeer
Now, after two decades in the industry, three gold, four platinum, one double platinum, and one triple platinum albums, Erik, dubbed as the "King of Pinoy Teleserye Theme Songs" of the country, has proven to the musical world that he is the moment.
But much like everything in life, Erik also has faced a lot of highs and lows in his life. Like many artists, Erik admitted that his craft was also challenged during the pandemic. “Nung nag-pandemic parang ang feeling ko wala, saan ako pupulutin? kase given the platform in the music industry nowadays, parang it keeps on changing. Grabe' yung it keeps on evolving, so ako, ang greatest achievement for me is yung, I am able to stick to my core as a singer, and at the same time, ang challenge sa'kin is, how to be relevant, despite the changes sa music industry, and despite the fact that I don't have to veer away from my core as a singer."
However, Erik proudly shared that whenever he releases a new song, he's still part of the chart-topping songs, which he considers one of his greatest achievements as a singer.
Prior to pandemic, Erik mentioned that he has been producing his own music with the help of Jonathan Manalo. He also produces songs for different singers. “So, hanggang ngayon kung merong gustong magpa-produce sa’kin ng isang kanta or kahit ng isang album meron na ako’ng kumabaga-kase naman 20 years na ako’ng recording artist, so more or less alam ko na yung iba’t ibang klaseng discipline, yung iba’t ibang kumbaga yung how to do it and how to go about it,” he added.
The highs and lows
In his personal life, Erik also talked about the challenges he had faced this year with his family and how he managed to gain strength from those challenges.
“I think ang greatest achievement ko sa personal ko’ng buhay is that, ‘yung strength na naibibigay ko sa pamilya ko, tsaka ‘yung strength na ipinapamalas ko when I’m with (my) friends, when I work. I believe it’s from the grace of God. So personally, lumakas yung faith ko, mas naging matatag ako as a person,” he explained.
Being in the industry for almost two decades, we asked Erik what he wanted to tell the 20-year-old Erik Santos. Where he said, “Good job kase, because of those challenges natuto ka sa buhay mo, natuto ka’ng maging mas patient, natuto ka’ng mas lumaro doon sa laro ng buhay. Natuto ka’ng tumayo above doon sa storm ng buhay na dumarating. So, good job kase pinanindigan mo yung pagiging breadwinner mo.”
Being a storyteller through his music
Since Erik has been in the industry for a long time, Erik said that he wanted to be remembered as someone who sings from the heart. He explained how essential expressing feelings and emotions is in singing.
"Kase ako, more than 'yung mga vocal acrobats, for me feelings and emotions are more important. Way way more important than anything else. Kase when you sing, especially when you sing a love song or a ballad song, you are telling a story, and when you tell a story you have to be effective. And how can you be an effective storyteller if hindi mo maipapakita ‘yung emosyon ng kanta?”
“‘Yun kase, mahirap ‘yun hanapin. Kase especially yung mga bagong generation ng singers ngayon, syempre iba na ‘yung music, parang mas gusto mo magpa-impress nang magpa-impress ganyan, dumaan rin naman ako sa stage na ‘yon to prove myself, pero ngayon parang medyo matagal tagal na ako sa industriya, parang more on expression ako. Mas mahalaga ‘yung expression, ‘yung kung paano mo maco-convey ‘yung message ng isang kanta, yung istorya ng kinakanta mo effectively sa audience mo o kung sino man ‘yung nakikinig sa’yo,” he added.
As he celebrates his special day today, we asked about his plans for his birthday celebration. “Actually, may work ako sa birthday ko. I’ll be in Korea, so siguro doon na lang, simple lang, kase ‘di ako mahilig sa party, homebody rin kase ako. Kung mayroon man akong party siguro with close friends, ‘yun lang, ganun lang, tsaka mas okay ako sa mga house party,” he replied.
Plans before the year ends
Currently, Erik is still on ASAP Natin'To every Sunday, and one of the judges on It's Showtime: Tawag ng Tanghalan. He also mentioned that there's already a line-up for shows and tours abroad. Erik is also preparing for a concert in celebration of his 20 years in the industry.
He also teases about the upcoming new album, which consists of new original songs and some collaborations. "I'm releasing an album, it's a milestone album, as a part of my 20 years din, 20th anniversary," he explained.
When we asked which P-Pop group he wanted to collaborate with, with no hesitation, Erik said “SB19”. “Sobra akong fan ng SB19, ang gagaling talaga nila, tsaka ang babait,” he said.
Message to fans
By the end of the interview, we asked Erik if there’s something that he wanted to tell his fans and listeners. He said, “I just want to thank them for always being there, for their loyalty, for their love, for their time, kase ‘yun ‘yung mga bagay na hindi mo naman kayang bilhin kahit magkano. ‘Yung time na ginugol nila sa’yo for the past 20 years, ‘yung love na binigay nila sa’yo na from being a stranger parang naging magkakapamilya kayo,”
Since Erik mentioned that he's very close to his fans and that even his family treats them as part of their family, Erik wanted to produce more music for his fans. "And I will always and forever be grateful to them, because if not for them, siguro hindi ko maaabot 'yung almost 20 years ko sa industry," he added.
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Text by Mark Baccay
Interview by Philip Vargas
Art Direction by Joe Andy
Hair and Grooming by Mycke Arcano
Assisted by Jam Jacobe & Leonel Froyalde
Styling by Mark Ranque
Style Associate: Carlo Angelo Cahutay
Special Thanks to Cornerstone Entertainment