Songwriter as lover » Manila Bulletin Entertainment

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While most men express love to their partners with chocolates and roses, acoustic singer TJ Monterde, the boyfriend of KZ Tandingan, uses his talent in singing and songwriting.

TJ Monterde

“Mas naipaparamdam ko ’yung mga gusto kong sabihin sa kanya through music,” he told Bulletin Entertainment.

He wrote “Ikaw At Ako Pa Rin” in celebration of how he and KZ remain steady with their love despite not having enough time for each other.

“Minsan kasi mahirap talaga kaming pagtagpuin dahil sobrang busy sa trabaho,” he shared. “Pero ’pag magkasama kami, we make sure to enjoy every minute of it.”

TJ also wrote “Mahika,” the first single of his third and most recent album titled “Kahit Kunwari” under PolyEast Records, specifically for KZ, relating that “everything slows downs when I’m with her.”

“Kasi ’yung feeling na kapag nasa tabi ko siya, ’yung magic na para bang biglang bumabagal ’yung mga pangyayari sa paligid ko, parang lahat ang perfect, ganu’n ’yung pakiramdam ko,” he explained.

The singer-songwriter believes being both into music is a boon to their relationship.

“Sobrang nakakatulong, like, ’pag may bago akong demo para sa record label ko, pinaparinig ko muna sa kanya, tapos nagsasabi siya ng mga suggestions niya,” he said. “Sa personal naman, dahil parehas kaming nasa music, less conflicts. Naiintindihan niya ’yung trabaho ko dahil ’yun din ang trabaho niya.”

He described KZ as his top critic.

“Pero binibigyan pa rin naman niya ako ng freedom sa gusto ko,” he noted. “Sa bosesan siya ’yung in-charge, ako naman tumutulong sa kanya in terms of songwriting, so balance lang.”

With KZ already establishing herself as an artist of note, we asked TJ if he is somewhat pressured getting there, too, the soonest he can.

“Hindi naman po,” he shot back. “Si KZ kasi mas nauna naman talaga siya, and kami naman po as couple, we talk about music but we don’t talk about work.”

All about pen and paper

Despite having a blissful relationship with KZ, TJ revealed that most of his compositions are hugot of sorts, revealing he is fond of sad songs.

“I don’t know pero there is something about us na we really love sad songs,” he said. “Iba kasi ’yung may kirot ’yung kanta, I don’t know pero masarap pakinggan.”

The singer wants to be known more as a songwriter, citing Jason Mraz and Ed Sheeran among his influences.

“Right now nag-aaral ako magsulat ng kanta for other people kasi parang selfish ako sa kanta ko. Kapag kanta ko ’to, gusto ko ako lang. Pero inaaral ko na siya kasi I really want to be a songwriter.”

Asked about the process of his songwriting, TJ said: “Random lang siya.”

“Ako kasi mahilig akong mag-hum, actually weird nga akong kasama eh,” he said in jest.

“Minsan ’pag may na-hum ako na maganda, nire-record ko. Sa lyrics naman, basic lang muna, susulat ko lang kung ano ’yung napi-feel ko hanggang sa ma-construct ko na siya into poem,” he added.

If anything, TJ, who hails from Cagayan de Oro, hopes to write a song about the ongoing siege in Marawi.
“Sa ngayon wala pang lumalabas na kanta pero I’m really trying my best,” he said.

There he goes

Five years since emerging in the music scene, TJ has come a long way, having released two albums under his name.
The title track of his third album “Kahit Kunwari” is inspired by a friend’s real life story and his unwavering belief in love.

“May friend ako na in a relationship siya pero maling pag-ibig, sabi niya, ‘Okay lang sa akin na kalaban ako ng lahat ng tao, na galit sa akin lahat ng tao basta kami.”

He continued: “Then naghiwalay sila pero nakiusap pa rin siya na magkasama pa rin sila kahit hindi siya ’yung tunay na mahal. Parang double kill, mali na ’yung pag-ibig, nagmakaawa pa siya na sana sila pa din.”

If there’s anything TJ could be proud of it is the fact that his album consists of all-original compositions. Other songs in the album are: “Memories,” “Nitong Pusong Ito,” and “1,2,3.”

Meanwhile, TJ is gearing up for his first-ever solo concert titled “Ikaw At Ako” at the Music Museum tomorrow. Joining him as special guest is “The Voice Kids” finalist Sassa Dagdag.

TJ revealed he took the concert title from his debut single deeming it fitting since it is meant for his fans – “Ikaw” referring to his fans and “Ako” referring to himself.

More, the singer-songwriter is thrilled to perform side by side with a full band maintaining, “Dati pa-jam jam lang ako.”
“Medyo hindi ko in-expect na aabot ako sa ganito , of course I dreamt of having my own concert pero I didn’t expect na it will be this soon,” he said.

He can only be thankful for the opportunities.

“I feel so blessed, hindi pa ako makapaniwala until now. I offer lahat ng ’to sa Panginoon kasi Siya naman ’yung nag-bless sa akin ng lahat ng ito,” he said.

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