Unplanned: Barbie Almalbis’s Spontaneous Milestones in Music
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, June 28, 2019 11:35am
Art by Allen Mirambel
As Manillennials, allow us to say the early 2000s was a good time (if not the best) for OPM, specifically the pop-rock genre. From music videos to youtube covers event to commercial jingles the hits of those days hits just the right notes of nostalgia today. It was an era of local boy bands and solo female pop-rock artists, and one of the most famed names of that generation is about to reemerge to touch our OPM-loving hearts.
So when we say Barbie Almalbis, you’ll probably hear the catchy tunes of “Just a Smile” and conjure an image of a toothpaste commercial featuring Sam Milby. You’ve also probably swooned to her notes on “High”, a collaboration she had with American band The Speaks. And now back from a five-year hiatus, Barbie is looking as if she never really left the spotlight (and never really aged, too). And she’s ready to conquer the local music scene once again.
In case you need a little background, Barbie started her music career as the vocalist of the Hungry Young Poets, a band formed in 1996. Two years later, she became the frontwoman of a band called Barbie’s Cradle. When the group disbanded, Barbie pursued a solo career in 2005. All throughout her career, she garnered awards like Best Performance by a Female Recording Artist for "Just A Smile" in PARI 19th Awit Awards 2006 and Favorite Female Artist of the Year in Meg Magazine Teens Choice Awards 2006 to name a few.
And with songs and a voice that made marks in the hearts of her listeners, she undeniably thrives in the music industry. We all might think her main goal in life was to be a musician.
Little do we know, Barbie is a spontaneous soul who never really planned her life out.
“I don't plan stuff but I'm blessed with people who did,” she shared.
How Business School Became a Music Tool
Barbie grew up in a family of musicians in Roxas City, Capiz. Although everyone in her family plays an instrument and loves music, no one pursued music as a career. And back in the '90s, there was no school for music is unless you want to take the classical route. There was no formal education program if you want to learn pop or rock. Without any specific goals or plans, Barbie took up Business Administration at De La Salle University but she continues to make music, bringing her guitar in school and writing songs in class.
In one of her classes, Barbie unknowingly sat beside a musician, a guitar player, who noticed her writing songs. He connected her to other musicians and soon, Barbie formed a band, took part in battle of the bands, and had gigs in certain places. Pretty soon, they got signed for a contract and the rest is history.
The Cat That Awakened Inspiration
If there’s one thing Barbie learned since she started writing and performing songs, it’s about how creativity is not something you force out of you. Barbie went on a five-year break from releasing any new singles or albums but didn’t really stop pursuing music. During those years, she was performing in gigs and was collaborating with the Christian band, Victory Worship.
Now, she is back with a new EP entitled Tigre—a name inspired by Barbie's pet cat. Tigre has no specific theme, proving Barbie's spontaneity. And compared to her music in the past, this is different as she continues to listen to other styles and genres.
"I think when you listen to the songs from when I started parang lagi naman siyang nagbabago kasi I'm such a music fan. I think tuluy-tuloy lang yung pakikinig, tuluy-tuloy lang yung pag-learn ng new things. So hindi ko naman pinipilit na kailangan bago yung tunog it's more of like what I'm excited about. As a creative person, a music person, the things that excite me, na-incorporate ko rin siya," she said.
The EP contains three songs of different inspirations and themes. One is “Tigre” which she co-wrote with her husband Martin. Their cat, Vernie, inspired this song that basically sings of loving someone who’s "mataray". The other song, “Cover,” is a collaboration with her friend Michelle Rivera. It was a surprise song for Michelle’s husband, Nikko, on their wedding day. And the last piece is “Ghost,” which is a piece about her Christian faith.
One of the words she would use to describe this Tigre is happy. “When I say all of my songs are happy, doesn't mean all of them are like parang just up in the clouds. They also go through struggles. It's just that I guess you'll always find hope. Maybe it's more hopeful than just happy. Even through the struggles, there's always hope,” Barbie shared.
On the OPM Landscape Then and Now
As she is to enter today’s music landscape, Barbie mentioned being happy about the great change in the OPM industry.
“I'm so happy that there are so much music that I Iove that's coming out. Alam mong wala silang box pag nagsusulat sila and almost every genre has a fanbase. There's people who like your music,” she expressed.
She also applauds how the current OPM artists have collaborations with their fellow musicians. She commends how the industry now has camaraderie and a sense of community.
Now with her latest contribution to the collection of OPM’s hits, Barbie never stops growing as a musician, she always craves for learning. She hopes the same for the younger generation. For Barbie, this is the best time to create music and arts and she is excited to hear what the new artists could offer. And we couldn’t wait to hear more from her (and perhaps ask know more about her skincare advice) too.
Barbie’s skincare tip: Drink LOTS of water to keep yourself and your skin hydrated. It also helps to find the best facial wash for your skin type (Cetaphil works for Barbie). You're welcome!