MANILA, Philippines — Thai and Pinoy musical worlds collide with the cross-cultural collaboration between ToR+ Saksit and Maja Salvador.
The singer/songwriter and pianist ToR — awarded several times as “Favorite Artist of Thailand” — did a duet of the English ballad Falling Into You with the Wildflower lead star, who’s establishing herself as a multi-hyphenate with growing exploits in dance and music.
The “dream partnership” was spearheaded by BEC-TERO Music Thailand with Ivory Music, the music label of Maja, who flew to Bangkok to record Falling Into You at the sprawling, state-of-the-art Karma Studios in south of Pattaya. The song was produced by Victor Lau, a Taiwanese producer/composer who has worked with the likes of Vanness Wu, Cyndi Wang, among other Asian pop stars.
This is the first time for Maja to collaborate with a fellow Asian artist, and ToR’s first experience to record an English song, which he himself co-wrote.
According to a media release, Falling Into You displays the Thai pop star’s piano-playing virtuosity and heartfelt vocals, as well as Maja’s sultry and emotionally charged rendition.
Music fans of both artists will be able to hear the song themselves come February 2018 during its global release in time for the Valentine’s season.
The 33-year-old ToR (whose real name is Saksit Vejsupaporn) has been in Thailand’s music business since 2003, introduced as a pianist to chart-topping Thai singers. In 2007, he would launch his own solo career not just as pianist but also as a singer via the album Living in C Major, which went on to become No. 1 in his country’s music charts.
Last September, ToR received the inaugural Artist That Matters 2017 Award at the Music Matters event in Singapore. Apart from his duet with Maja, he has also recently partnered with Sony Music China’s Joshua Jin for the song Waiting For Love (sung in Mandarin), which saw release in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.
ToR was in Manila recently for a photo shoot with Maja (as seen in the pictures accompanying this article). During his stay, he also accommodated an e-mail interview for STAR.
What was the story behind this collaboration? How did it come to be?
“Falling Into You was a song that I wrote with two songwriters from the UK in 2016. I knew it was a very good duet but I didn’t know who to do it with since it’s in English. Early in 2017, my label BEC-TERO told me that there’s a Filipino artist who loves the song and wants to collaborate with me in this song. That’s how it started.”
What was your reaction when you first learned you’d be doing a project with a Filipino artist?
“I thought it was a perfect match for the market since the song will be in English. Also, it talks about how two people are not together and still falling into each other. Speaking about the Philippines, I feel very close to them (Filipinos) because during my elementary and high school years, my teachers were all from the Philippines. My English teacher, choir teacher, as well as my first basketball coach, were all from the Philippines. So, I feel connected to them in a way. That’s why I thought it’s going to be a good collaboration.”
What was it like working and recording a song with Maja?
ToR describes Maja as naturally beautiful
“Maja is a very nice person. And yes, she is beautiful. There are some famous actresses out there who, you know, sort of being very careful about looking ‘beautiful’ all the time that personally, I think it takes their attractiveness away. But Maja isn’t like that. She’s natural. She talks, makes jokes, laughs and (is) down to earth. That’s the definition of being beautiful to me, being naturally who you are.”
What do you hope to achieve with this team-up?
“It’s a good opportunity to both Maja and me to exchange music cultures, between the Thai and the Filipino market. I think there’s still a place for romantic love ballads here in the Asian market. Moreover, I hope Falling Into You would make you all want to sing it for the ones you love. I hope it would bring happiness to you.”
Prior to working with Maja, what do you know about Filipino music or artists?
“Frankly, I don’t know much about the Filipino music scenes. But I do know that most Filipino has a very good background in music. I have not met a single Filipino who can’t sing. I think that’s a great thing to have in your culture.”
Since you co-created Falling Into You, what was your inspiration for it?
“My inspiration was about distant love. In our lives, I think we all have our own responsibilities. Even though how far you are apart, knowing that you have that someone waiting (or falling) for you, it’s a great feeling.”
It is noted in your bio that you’ve been a professional artist since 2003, or almost 15 years ago. How would you sum up your musical journey so far?
“I would say I’m truly blessed to be able to do what I do today. These past few years, I had the opportunity to work outside Thailand as well, in the Chinese market and soon in the Filipino market. My life is all about music and I pray it would be much happiness and inspiration to the people around me.”
How much has your music evolved, if any, from the time you started? And being one of Thailand’s top music stars, what have you been doing to keep up with the changing musical tastes of audiences?
“For me, music is like my diary. You know, how humans try to record memories and histories through writing diaries, paintings, photographs and music. The songs I write today reflect how I feel, who I am, what I’m passionate about today. I guess all I have to do is live my life and also try to improve musically. Finding new inspirations and giving myself new challenges are also what I like to do.”
What can we expect from you in the next months (i.e. other collaborations with Filipino or ASEAN artists)?
“I’m starting to write new songs now for the upcoming album. You will also find me in other Asian markets, I think, such as Thai and Chinese. But I hope I would be able to come to the Philippines more and play a concert here.”
Can you give any message to the Filipino music fans and why do you think they will love this song?
“I hope you all will love this song. Love is a big part of our lives and I think being able to fall into someone is a very memorable experience. Please share it with whomever you’re falling into with.”
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