Focus | Rob Deniel is on cloud nine of early musical success

Get to know viral sensation Rob Deniel, the boy behind the hit "Ulap" who signed with Viva Records last Friday, October 16.

PHOTOS: Melo Balingit

Get to know viral sensation Rob Deniel, the boy behind the hit "Ulap" who signed with Viva Records last Friday, October 16.

It was an ordinary day for Rob Deniel.

He was in his bedroom strumming his guitar while staring at his computer out of boredom when he noticed the beauty of the moving clouds from out his window.

It was at that moment when the 17-year-old singer-songwriter felt inspired to use the cotton-like cumulus clouds he was gazing at
as metaphor for the song he would call “Ulap.”

As that day passed by, Rob was able to connect the passing clouds to an even deeper concept: mke the most out of your time with the people that matters to you.

Ang meaning behind that is you cherish the moment with your loved ones. ’Yong makipag-bonding ka sa kanila,” he explains.

(“Gusto kang makasama /Ako na ang bahala /Wag ka lang mawalay /Atin nang kulayan /Ang ating mundo /Tumingin sa akin /Langhapin ang hangin/ Bakit ba nasanay/ Isip ay nadadamay/ Sa puso.”)

PHOTO: @senor_rd on Instagram; ART: Stephen Jan Cruz

Little did Rob know that the song he wrote out of boredom would skyrocket into virality in some music-streaming platforms. It would also become his ticket to his journey to mainstream stardom in the music world. Just last October 16,  he was recently introduced as Viva Records’ newest signee.

Continuing to make his way into musical success, let us find out more about this new wonder-kid musician.


As a kid, the “sweet, always positive” Rob never expected he would be creating music, especially big hits that music enthusiasts would enjoy. He always thought his path would lead him to the basketball court.

However, to his surprise, it was his father who encouraged him to try music, surprising Rob one day by gifting him his first instrument: the guitar.

PHOTO: @senor_rd on Instagram; ART: Stephen Jan Cruz

“Basketball talaga ’yong mahal ko dati,” Rob told during a quick sit-down interview before his contract signing. 

Pangarap kong maging basketball player dati. Binilhan lang ako ng tatay ko ng gitara, sabay natututo ako taon-taon. Sa tingin ko, nag-iimprove naman ako. Iba’t ibang kanta inaaral ko para mag-level up ’yong mga skills ko sa pagtugtog.

As he disciplined himself to keep on practicing the guitar, he started to look up to R&B artists such as Michael Pangilinan from the Philippines and Alex Aiono from the United States for inspiration.

Nagawa nila ’yon. Bakit hindi ko i-try ’yong mga naabot nila? So, sinubukan ko. Nagtuloy-tuloy na ako,” Rob says of why he continued pursuing music, saying he felt inspired by the singers he listened to.

However, there were times wherein he wanted to give up the craft, mainly because in every song he uploads online, he would only receive a number of views.

Specifically, it was for his song “Gabi” which has now over 200,000 streams on Spotify and over 700,000 views on YouTube.

PHOTO: @senor_rd on Instagram; ART: Stephen Jan Cruz

May music video akong ginawa sa bahay. Ako nag-edit and everything,” he recalled. “Ayun, parang [in] one week, nasa 200, 100 views lang siya. Kaya ayun, parang gusto ko mag-quit noong mga panahon na ’yon.

Yet, upon seeing musicians like IV of Spades, Unique Salonga, and The Juans find success in their music, Rob overcame his urge to quit music and decided to go on with the craft that he’s fallen for.

And his passion and determination to succeed would reap its fruit when his song “Ulap” would go viral, gaining over 2,000,000 streams on Spotify and over 3,500,000 views on YouTube as of this writing.

Nakaka-overwhelm siya, sobra. Unexpected din kasi lahat ng mga nangyari, kasi I came from nowhere din. Galing ako sa zero, biglang nangyari lahat na umabot sa milyon sa YouTube. Ayon, nagulat lang din ako sa mga nangyari at, ayun, hindi ako handa mentally kaya nabigla ako,” he admits.

Rob—who is a one-man band who does everything from musical arrangement, recording process, production, and music video shoots—vows to keep on making music. He says he chooses to do it all on his own because he wants to learn.

PHOTO: @senor_rd on Instagram; ART: Stephen Jan Cruz

“’Pag na-isipan kong gawin ’yong isang bagay, ta-try ko talaga,” he reveals. “Kasi kung hindi ako ma-alam doon, pag-aaralan ko para may bagong matutunan, bagong ma-explore, kahit pag-e-edit ng video [...]. Para ma-explore ko siya, hindi lang sa music.”


As “Ulap” continued being viral, music labels started to discover the hitmaker that is Rob. But it was Viva Records that caught his attention.

Ang daming nag-email sa akin na labels [at] isa ’yong Viva doon,” he recounts. “’Yong nakita ko ’yong mga nasabi nila, parang na-engganyo ako sumali dito.

As he remains to be on cloud nine from his initial successes, Rob advises aspiring musicians to just keep practicing and to continue working on  their craft.

“Continue lang at, s’yempre, it’s important to enjoy [also],” he says. “Enjoy everything you want...kung saan ka masaya. Huwag mo siya masyadong seryosohin [kasi] minsan harsh ’yong mararamdaman mo ’pag sineryoso mo lahat. Kaya mas maganda na enjoy-in mo na lang lahat.”

PHOTO: Melo Balingit; ART: Stephen Jan Cruz

And now that he has signed with the biggest mainstream music labels in the country, Rob cannot wait to collaborate with artists from his new home, specifically with the pop band The Juans and singer-songwriter Arthur Nery. He even gives a slight preview of what to expect now that he is under Viva.

“More songs to come and music videos na paparating,” he simply says.

And we cannot wait! Good luck and more power to you, Rob!


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