Viva Entertainment singer-actor Caleb Santos is on a sky-high recently as his song, “I Need You More Today,” recently hit 60 million views on the video-streaming platform YouTube, and 19 million streams in the music-streaming platform Spotify.
If you can recall, the melancholic romantic song was featured in the JC Santos-Bela Padilla starrer 100 Tula Para Kay Stella, a movie where Caleb also made an appearance as Von, a person who crossed paths with Stella, Bela’s character, in the middle of the film.
Before starting his Tuesday night with the premiere of the horror film Nightshift starring Yam Concepcion, Caleb sat down with pikapika.ph to talk about the success of his abovementioned song and his passion for music.
AN ELATION FOR SUCCESS
The songwriter could not help but be all smiles when we mentioned the success of his hit song, which he started working on for more than two years.
“Sobrang sarap sa feeling kasi parang 1 million pa nga lang sobrang bigat na noon as an artist, as a singer-songwriter pa [kasi] ako nagsulat no’ng song,” he said. “Maraming tumangkilik doon sa kanta so sobrang blessed [ako] to have this much na nakinig at naka-relate doon sa song.”
Caleb then began to express his gratitude to people who continue to support him in his line of work, which he considers his passion, as well.
“I would like to thank everyone na patuloy na nakikinig,” he said.
He added that partly why the song has skyrocketed into success after more than two years is because of the Internet memes people make out of his songs, turning a sad love song into a sad song about financial needs.
“Ginagawa nilang meme sa Facebook ’yong song,” he revealed. “Actually, nag-2 million naman siya doon sa video sa Facebook kasi ginamit siya. Nilagay ’yong 1000 peso bill at 500 peso bill. Sana bumalik [daw] ’yong pera.”
“Dahil sa ginagawa nila, tumataas ’yong views ng song and sobrang na-appreciate ko ’yon kaya maraming-maraming salamat,” Caleb said.
Surprisingly, Caleb’s inspiration for the song is not pulled from a love story, whereas it came from missing his family and friends when he was studying back in college.
“That was the first time na nahiwalay ako sa family ko, sa friends ko, and everyone else na close sa akin,” he recalled. “Start ng bago talaga lahat. ’Yong pagka-miss ko sa kanila, ’yong feeling na nawala sila sa tabi ko, wala akong malapitan sa time na ’yon, ’yon ’yong nagamit kong feeling so doon lumabas ’yong kanta and I added some stories from my friends.”
As he continued to miss his family and friends back home in Parañaque, he used his interest in music to reinforce his passion for such, taking up a course on music production at the Siliman University in Negros Oriental and gathering musical skills he received while working with his former boy band, XLR8.
HIS MUSICAL BEGINNINGS
His connection to Viva Records started during his pre-Siliman days. Viva Records was then looking for a fourth member of a boy group they were working on, Caleb’s aunt asked him to try out because she knew he had singing experience back when he was a member of a church choir.
“They were actually looking for the last member of the group,” he narrated. “’Yong group na ’yon, para pa siyang Jonas Brothers type. [Kailangan nila ng] apat, eh tatlo na. ’Yong pinsan ko nandoon na siya, so isa na lang ang hinahanap nila.”
That experience was new for Caleb, as he had no plans to enter show business.
Auditioning in front of Viva Chairman Vicente “Boss Vic” Del Rosario, Jr., the then-rising singer impressed the media mogul when he performed his rendition of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.”
“After that, tuloy-tuloy na siya,” Caleb recalled. “Nagkaroon ng era ng K-Pop and nadagdagan kami ng other four. More on dancing naman sila, kami ’yong sa singing part. ’Yong kinombayn kami, we started XLR8.”
A year within the group, the members were already thinking about their individual lives. Some went into acting while others focused on their studies. Since he wanted a medium that expressed himself, Caleb stayed with music and expanded his genre, coming from pop music where his boy group fell.
“I tried to write my own songs for myself,” he said. “So, doon ka nahanap na sabi ko ‘Ahh, kaya ko palang gawin!’ So, sabi ko, tingin ko na kailangan ko pang pag-aralan bago ko i-release ’yong sarili ko as a singer-songwriter. So, doon ako nag-start with music, para ready’ng-ready ako pagbalik.”
As he focused on his passion for music, a blessing came his way through the realm of acting. He was offered a cameo role in Para Sa Hopeless Romantic where he played one of the friends of Nikko, James Reid’s character.
His acting prowess continued to channel even further while he continued writing music, starring in horror films like Chain Mail (2015) starring Meg Imperial and Nadine Lustre and Dark Room (2017) starring Ella Cruz.
THAT TIME WE NEEDED HIM TODAY
As he went forth with his solo career as a musician and actor, Caleb wrote his first solo single “You Are Mine” while giving life to characters in music videos, television series, and acting.
Despite his foray into acting, he stayed true to his passion for music, releasing “I Need You More Today,” a song that finally veered him away from his pop music image. The heartbreaking ballad reached 1 million streams on Spotify and was included in its playlist called New Music Friday.
This feat got the eye of Boss Vic who gave the idea that the song will be used in 100 Tula Para Kay Stella helmed and written by Jason Paul Laxamana.
“Kinausap din ako nila Direk kasi they’re actually looking for songs,” he recounted. “’Yong narinig nila ’yong ‘I Need You More Today’, sobrang bagay doon kina JC at kay Bela ’yong story. Also, kasama ako doon sa movie ’yon. Ginamit nila ’yong song for that and that scene where Stella was looking at Fidel, ’yon talaga nagdala, ’yong slow motion. Saktong-sakto talaga doon sa eksena.”
However, Caleb never thought his self-penned piece would be used in a blockbuster film like 100 Tula Para Kay Stella and gave us a trivia that the Jason Paul Laxamana movie was not the first film to use his song.
“Mas una lumabas doon sa isa kong movie which is called Dark Room as a background song doon sa scene namin sa supermarket,” he said. “Pero doon siya unang lumabas. Sa Dark Room then ginamit po siya for Stella.”
He also added that people were surprised that the singer behind the hit song that gave them all the feels behind the Fidel-Stella love story was actually the Xerox guy named Von in the film, his most notable film character yet.
“Kahit galit na galit sila sa akin sa film, hindi nila matangging gusto nila ’yong song,” Caleb said, chuckling. “Sabi ko, I’m really sorry but that’s how it goes.”
And now, he is lending his acting chops in the Viva Films offering Nightshift, where he plays the fiancé of Yam Concepcion’s character.
“Masasabi ko lang [...] doon iikot ’yong istorya sa relationship namin before,” he said. “It all happens. May mga flashbacks dito sa movie.”
It was through the production team of the film where Caleb was offered the role. The team, which he first worked with in All Souls Night starring Andi Eigenmann, messaged him if he was open to portraying the role, to which he agreed.
“It’s really something different, kasi halos wala akong lines dito,” he said. “It’s more of the acting side, and the expressions so sana magulat sila sa mga gagawin namin. Abangan nila.”
With the success of “I Need You More Today” and a movie role in tow, Caleb surely is starting the year right. When asked what is next for him after these, focusing on music came to mind.
“I plan to do an EP and more songs like ‘I Need You More Today’ and continuity. Actually, nagawa ko na ’yong pangalawang part no’n. It’s called ‘A Chance to Love Again’ and it’s now out on YouTube and Spotify so sana magustuhan nila.”
The list of songs in his upcoming EP, Caleb says, would be interconnected with one another, telling one whole story through his voice and rhythm.
It seems like Caleb is starting 2020 right with the success of his song and a movie role in tow. What will he do as the year progresses? We cannot wait!
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