‘Isabella,’ an homage to their beloved province by Jhames Joe and Tanya Markova’s Harlon Agsaoay

There’s a new song that aims to promote local tourism in the Philippines while championing the good old memories of a hometown to the tune of a love song. Listen to ‘Isabella,’ the latest single from Singapore-based singer-songwriter Jhames Joe, featuring Harlon Agsaoay, lead vocalist of Tanya Markova. It’s now streaming on digital music platforms. Check out the playable link below.

Words and music

CinemaBravo had a fun chat with the two artists during their recent virtual press conference organized by Handpicked. Harlon and Jhames talked about their musical inclination and their undying love for their beloved province of Isabela.

We asked Harlon about his dynamics with his real-life cousin, Jhames. They had a fair share of exchanging of melodies and lyrics while maintaining a common narrative for their song.

“Nag-usap lang kami through Zoom. Tapos, pinag-usapan nga namin na gumawa kami ng kanta,” narrated Harlon. “Nag-collab kami at nagse-send-an ng melody muna, pagkatapos yung lyrics… hanggang sa nabuo na lang yung kanta. May naiisip na siyang chorus. Nilagyan ko ng vocal melody. Tapos, yon, hanggang sa nabuo na lang din yung kanta. Binigyan namin ng narrative yung chorus. Nagbabatuhan kami ng song ideas during the process.”

Jhames, on the other hand, mentioned that it took about four rounds for them to reach the sound they wants. “Parang pang-travel” was how he described their music. “Parang habang bumibiyahe ka…”

As the words and music of ‘Isabella’ come together to bring a feel-good mood, they can compare their song to that played during a light road trip.

When asked about their favorite line, Harlon immediately referred to the Ilocano term for “I love you,” which is “Ay-ayaten kita.” Jhames identified his personal liking to the line “Ikutin man buong mundo, ikaw pa rin ang hinahanap-hanap ko.”

A trip down memory lane

More than a love song, ‘Isabella’ also gives off the vibes of a trip down memory lane.

When Harlon was in high school, he had his fondest memories of being interested on music. He recalled the places he used to frequent in Isabela as a dreaming musician: scouting for posters and buying cassette tapes, visiting radio stations to request for songs by local artists such as Eraserheads. Those were the days he first fell in love with rock and roll.

“Sobrang saya lang ng mga memory na yon, kaya din ako naging musikero dahil doon noong nag-aral ako sa Santiago City.”

As for Jhames, it is the municipality of Cabatuan in Isabela that will always have a place in his heart. More importantly, it it his school that honed his inclination to music.

Even though we both experienced the fun and culture of other cities and countries, nothing beats the memories of the place that made us.

– Jhames Joe

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