The journey has not been smooth for the young dreamer, Jermae who now stands as the empowered AJ of G22. Her first taste in the industry came as a solo artist when she first released her single “Summer” in 2018. It was an amazing feat for the young Jermae but at the back of her head, she’d always dreamed of being part of a group like the many K-Pop groups she was fond of. That dream of hers seemed like an unattainable idea at the time, as P-Pop groups weren’t widely embraced or popular back then.
However, her perspective shifted when SB19 sparked something into her already pushed-back dream. After becoming an A’TIN in 2019, she realized the promising future of P-Pop. From that moment forward, she has tirelessly navigated the industry. From joining The Voice Teens 2020 to enduring the challenges of being a trainee, and eventually becoming a member of G22, she persevered through sweat and tears and became known as “AJ.”
In an industry where everyone strives to become “the best” in the game, G22 sets itself apart by bringing a distinct name to the scene. Known as the “Female Alphas of P-Pop,” G22 leader AJ describes being a female alpha is more than meets the eye.
AJ emphasizes that the label is not exclusive to the group but refers to all people who find inspiration in their music and shares that empowering feeling with others. Embracing this advocacy comes with a sense of pressure and responsibility. But with AJ leading the way, G22 is steadfast in striving for excellence and exhibiting a healthy balance of vulnerability and strength.
In this exclusive interview, we delve into the essence of G22 AJ as a leader. Discover the challenges they face in standing out among countless dreamers, the genesis of their unique concept, and explore AJ’s seamless transition from being a G22 member to embracing her true self as Angel Jermae.
Q. As a leader, what is so special about becoming the leader of G22?
AJ: What’s special about being G22’s leader is leading other leaders in their own right because everyone has very strong characters where their individuality really shines. With that, I don’t only lead them, but I also learn from them.
Q. It’s been a little over a year since your debut in 2022 and slowly, more and more groups have debuted since then. What makes G22 stand out in such a long list of P-Pop acts today? Are there any difficulties or pressures with the competition or trying to stand out?
AJ: I wrote this line, "This is not a competition but a revolution. Are you clear with your vision?" for our song "Boomerang." I strongly believe that we should not see P-Pop or OPM as competition because we all have the same goal, which is to make our own known across the world by showcasing the Filipino talent and how much of a powerhouse we are. Each group brings a different color to the table that is distinctive to them. Of course, it is not easy because it comes with great pressure since we are a growing community. You really have to prove to a lot of people why P-Pop is worth stanning.
Q. G22 typically goes for this strong, badass, fierce image. What makes this a concept that fits G22 the most? Was this an image you’ve always imagined yourself to be in or did you grow into it through the group?
AJ: Every member of G22 didn’t wake up a badass. We all come from diverse backgrounds and life experiences, and we used that as a tool to channel it into our songs, which are strong and empowering. With our approach to writing music, choreography, and style, it came naturally to us.
Q. You have a strong message/advocacy of talking about being women in a man’s world and generally empowering women everywhere. What does it mean to be a woman of this generation and what does women's empowerment look like today?
AJ: We continue to advocate for female empowerment because we were motivated by other women who taught us that women can succeed in industries where men predominate. We were influenced by the music of many other women, including Beyoncé and Little Mix. Looking at female empowerment today, it doesn’t only revolve around women but goes across all genders who also support the movement. We are grateful to our management for allowing us to be artists with a purpose.
Q. Social media has changed the game for the music industry. It’s helped a lot of artists grow an audience for not just P-Pop but for indie artists who may not have had that opportunity before. But, there are also downsides with having to churn out constant content and trying to stay relevant in a market that is so saturated. What are your thoughts on this?
AJ: Social Media is actually a big help in the music industry even on indie artists because they get to promote freely on certain platforms unlike before. With label or without label, you get to share your music and talents. On the other hand, the competition has grown to be tougher because more and more artists are flourishing and you have to stay relevant on current trends. However, being true to yourself and knowing who you are as an artist alongside having a knowledge on the trends is very important.
Q. P-Pop is a derivative of K-Pop which is also a derivative of J-Pop. But, when looking at all three of them, they’ve all been pretty different and tailored to each country’s culture. What makes P-Pop different? And is the idol system still applicable to our culture?
AJ: The idol system here in the Philippines is quite distinctive depending on where the idol is signed at. However, if I were to choose what makes P-Pop different, it would be the community and the movement. We are able to be friends and build a healthy relationship with other P-Pop groups. Since we are a growing community, why don’t we start a healthy idol system and traditions?
Q. It goes without saying that juggling your personal and professional lives is difficult. Most especially to P-Pop artists, your schedules are usually very packed with training/practices, performances, and the like. How can you compartmentalize things going on in your personal life while still performing to standards? What pursuits do you dabble in to pause and restart?
AJ: We have this thing taught to us by one of our coaches called "Switch On," where when it's time for you to perform and deliver, you forget whatever is happening in your life and only think about what’s happening at the very moment. This is actually part of our training. We learned how to separate our personal lives from our professional lives. It was never easy because we are in a group. We know and feel when a certain member is having a bad day. On the other hand, songwriting is one of my ways to pause and restart because I get to transfer the baggage through words.
Don't miss AJ and the whole pack of G22 as they take the stage at the highly anticipated PPOPCON MANILA 2023 this July 14 to 16 at Araneta City. Secure your tickets now at TicketNet Online or through TicketNet outlets nationwide.
Additionally, don't forget to grab a limited edition copy of our #TheLeadersIssue. You can either claim it at the PARCINQ booth during the PPOP Convention or have it conveniently delivered to your doorstep. Hurry and take advantage of our exciting freebies!
Produced by Parcinq Team in collaboration with PPOPCON
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Art Direction by Joe Andy
Production Coordination by Chardy Baldoza
Features Writers Queenie Cailing and Marielle Filoteo
Communications Manager: Rhanica
Production Manager: Arby
Artist Coordinator: Jessette
Content Producer: Erica
Team Rain X Em
Fashion Film By Ian Francisco
Video Associate Pogs Francisco
Camera Operator Anghel Millar
Gaffer Edward Logorta
Set Design by Rabbit Hole Creatives
Food Sponsors: Illo’s Party Trays, The Sandwhich Guy
Elemental Cafe Iced Coffee
Studio Partner Siren Studios