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Darren Espanto is bent on conquering new grounds, collaborating with Malaysian pop singer anew just recently

Darren Espanto and Nik Qistina

After young Pinoy singer Darren Espanto recorded a stripped down version of Malaysian pop singer Nik Qistina’s “Young Hearts” comes their new duet “My Baby And Me” off his new album “Be With Me.”

“Because of the collaboration, I realized kaya ko palang hindi masyadong bumirit (sa pagkanta),” he mused in a recent interview.

It’s all fun for Nik as well, saying, “Darren has been amazing.”

They hope the collaboration isn’t their last.

“It was such an honor for me to have an international artist like Nik guest in my song after I did the duet with her for ‘Young Hearts.’ It’s nice that two people from different backgrounds were able to make something amazing,” Darren said.

Nik hopes the collaboration will open more doors for her in the Philippines, adding she wants to work with other Filipino artists particularly Sabrina and Jason Dy.

“I’m excited to work with Filipino artists because I saw how good and passionate they are in singing.”

Like for like

Nik describes 16-year-old Darren as a sweet and cute guy.

She dismissed suggestions they might end up an item. “Darren’s like a little brother to me,” she said.

Darren echoed what she said, saying, “We’re really good friends. May ibang panahon naman po para sa crush.”

But he does like Nik.

“She’s very pretty,” he said. “Beyond that, Nik is also chill and at the same time, fun to be with. The first time we met, nag-click kami talaga, like we are already talking like we knew each other for the longest time.”

Learnings

Nik’s visit to the Philippines entailed shooting videos for both “My Baby And Me” and “Young Hearts.” She and Darren also appeared as guests in various radio and TV shows.

The singer learned the importance of the words of “po” and “opo” during her short stay.

“I wish I could have more time to visit the different places here in the Philippines,” she said. “I really saw how well-mannered Filipinos are and I hope I will be able to meet a lot of them in the future.”

Darren shared one thing he has learned from Nik.

“To be spontaneous in interviews,” he said. “Kasi siya she knows what to say already, ako minsan parang name-mental block pa ako eh.”

Social media fame

Nik started her career by posting videos on YouTube, which brought her to the attention of Universal Music Malaysia. She since has had numerous hits, opened for various stars including American singer-songwriter Greyson Chance, and performed at prestigious venues all over Malaysia.

Her single “Young Hearts” has already gained more than 1 million Spotify plays and 532,000 plus views on her Vevo Channel as of this writing.

She acknowledged the great help of social media in her career.

“It has been a dream come true for me,” said she, whose musical influence is Beyoncé.

Social media also help Darren career-wise, citing how his cover of Sia’s “Chandelier” garnered thousand of shares and likes on YouTube.

“It really went viral. People were able to share it not just only around the Philippines but also in the different parts of the world,” he shared.

While admitting social media is a huge part of their careers, Darren and Nik shared it also has its pitfalls.
“Social media can be really tricky,” Nik noted.

Darren added, “Everything we post, people put a certain meaning to it.”

This is why he limits his social media exposure.

“I’m very open naman with my fans. It’s just that, ayoko lang minsan kasi mali ang interpretation sa mga pino-post natin, so better na i-limit na lang,” he explained.

How do they handle bashers on social media, we asked.

“I don’t really dwell on it, hindi ko nalang pinapansin. But ’yung mga feedback na I know it will help me grow as a person, tine-take ko siya positively,” Darren maintained.

Same goes for Nik.

“I don’t really read negative . I just focus on the positive because I think that will help me grow as an artist.”

Continued success

Darren and Nik could only be thankful for all the opportunities given to them.

“I didn’t really expect it (the fame),” said he, who became popular after he finished runner-up in the first edition of “The Voice Kids.”

“Nu’ng bata po ako sobrang pangarap ko lang talaga lahat ng nangyayari ngayon. Basta I hope na magtuloy-tuloy lang lang lahat ng nangyayaring maganda sa career ko,” Darren said, adding he also hopes to finish his studies.

Asked what he misses most from when he was mere unknown, Darren said: “Going to public places without being recognized by people.”

On the other hand, Nik said, “I’m very happy with where I am now. It is really an honor and so far I’m loving it.”
The Malaysian artist dreams of having her own album soon.

“Right now, I’m just enjoying everything. I just want to grow and experience more in this industry and become a better version of who I am,” she said. (With report from Jojo P. Panaligan)

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