It’s quite easy to think we’ve heard everything there is to know about Kitchie Nadal. From being the lead vocalist of the band Mojofly in the late ‘90s to debuting a self-titled solo album, she has sung and written songs on just about everything. In the grander scheme of things, she was one of the many great local artists of the early 2000s. It’s a big deal because it was arguably the golden age of mainstream OPM. But besides the awards and recognition, Kitchie Nadal played an important part of our childhood because of the memories we associate with her songs. This is one of the reasons why Young STAR chose her as the main act for this year’s #YSProm. Presented by Wanderland Music Festival, Kitchie’s set was a huge nostalgic moment for everyone. She played music that once made us pick up our first guitar — or at least got us thinking that we wanted to. Hers were also the songs that were the soundtrack to our first heartaches, if we can even call it that. Her music is as comforting as it is familiar. Maybe that’s why we feel as if we know everything about her.
So as I sat in the café waiting to finally meet her — 12 years late, but why not? I couldn’t help but wonder: what else is left to say about Kitchie Nadal?
With a career spanning about 16 years, you can bet she could afford to rest on her laurels and ride the waves of success from her previous hits. She can, but she doesn’t. “Now it’s Christmas, so I’m doing a lot of gigs. I actually just got back from Madrid a month ago. I’m also in the process of writing my fourth album… ay fifth na pala,” she corrects herself charmingly. That Friday that I met her seemed to be one of her rare days off. But amid her busy schedule, she exudes a certain ease: there seems to be no pressure. For now, at least.
“We released the fourth album (in 2013) independently. Until now, we’re still promoting some of the songs. Medyo slow yung pag release. But I also released a new single (last May), Wandering Stars. It’s going to be part of the fifth album,” she teases. “I recorded it with keyboard and with different drum pads.” If you think about it, it’s not really something groundbreaking, especially in today’s music landscape. But putting into perspective her pop rock band roots makes all the difference — in her situation, at least. “(I see that) people are more experimental now. Even for myself, I allow myself to explore different types of music.”
Not only does she get inspiration from a richer musical culture, she also looks into different themes. “Mas socially conscious na ako. On my first album, I was more introverted. (I thought) about my emotions, what happened to me. But for this album, I’m thinking about other people and their experiences, even social issues.”
It’s been awhile since we heard new music from Kitchie. But when you listen to the radio station playing a #throwback playlist, it’s hard not to catch at least one of her hit singles — Huwag na Huwag Mong Sasabihin, Bulong, or Same Ground. It doesn’t take much for us to identify these songs by just a hook or a chorus. Besides the fact that we’ve listened to them so many times, it’s familiar because we know exactly the feeling behind the story she’s trying to tell us. “The concepts of my songs are mostly lessons that I learned. (It comes from) very basic experience that people can relate to.”
Perhaps the key to creating a legacy comes from hard work and honest songwriting, both of which Kitchie continues to do. But what happens now when previous success sets the tone — or expectations — for what’s to come next? For Kitchie, it’s all about finding the right opportunities to push a new message forward.
In an upcoming concert, she will share the stage with other iconic female vocalists who also have a legacy of their own — Aia de Leon and Barbie Almalbis, no less. Kitchie shares how the show organizers, Gabi Nanaman Productions, respect them as artists.
“I like the concept that they let me do the new songs. (I’ll sing) old songs also but they didn’t limit me to play it in a certain way. The songs have evolved a lot compared to how they were played before,“ she says. It’s an opportunity for these female pop icons to share a side the audience is not familiar with — adding more color to their image, if not necessarily changing it. It’s a risky goal, but a welcome one at that.
So, what’s left to say about Kitchie Nadal? Well, we have to wait for the new album to really find out. But for now, it’s best to say that there’s more to her as an artist than just her hit singles.