Among the harder working gigging musicians in Phnom Penh is singer Mirasol Aguila. Most weekends she’s out performing with a range of musicians – including Arone Silverman, Euan Gray, Philippe Javelle and Larry Martinez – covering a lot of ground through the worlds of jazz, soul and pop. This Saturday she’ll be rocking out with Band@Work at Hard Rock Café Phnom Penh, and she took some time with Leng Pleng to talk music and inspiration.
What’s your favourite music – if you could have any choice?
I grew up singing Whitney Houston songs, that’s where I started when I was young. My uncle saw me singing while watching her on the television, and I think he saw some potential. He picked me up, put me on the table and gave me a spoon to hold as a microphone. Okay, sing! So I started singing. He was also a singer, and he used to have lots of cassette tapes to do karaoke, that’s where I started learning.
How did you get involved with Band@Work?
I got a message from Marc [Cholleton] at Hard Rock Café, asking me if I was interested in doing some guest performances with [house band] Band@Work. I said why not? They want to have guests regularly, once a month, different singers. I think it’s good. It’ll be mostly rock, some pop, songs I used to sing in a band in Vietnam before. I gave a list of 15 songs that I requested for them to learn, and they asked me to choose some songs from their repertoire – they are a younger generation of musicians.
What brought you to Phnom Penh?
I grew up in Manila, and when I went to college to study computer science singing helped pay for my tuition. I thought to myself I’d really like to go abroad. I saw other people living a good life, but I like to travel, and music brought me to many places. I came to Cambodia in 2015 from Vietnam, and moved to Siem Reap. It’s beautiful in Siem Reap, I miss the nature. But here in Phnom Penh there’s more opportunity and I can play with many different and crazy musicians.
What other projects have you got underway?
I’m working with Pocket Change right now, and we are aiming to write some original songs. When musicians inspire each other, you can’t only play covers. Most of the musicians I watch and admire write from their life, their experience. I remember an interview with a Filipino musician where he said ‘I need a little bit of music and I can get a little bit of peace, and it inspires me.’ He said every bit of music is inspired by other music, and I can understand that. I thought: I’ll try this. I made up a song in Tagalog inspired by some song which I don’t even remember! Everything in the world is inspired by other things.
It seems everyone from The Philippines loves to sing.
Yes, when we grow up in The Philippines, we sing. You cannot have a wife if you do not know how to serenade. The ladies are at the windows, and the man is serenading in the street, and the mother and father are also listening – if you really have a good voice you are okay. It’s true! I’m not joking. It’s been in our culture a long, long time. We’ve adapted to the American western culture, but still we love to sing. And at every birthday party there is karaoke.
Mirasol will join Band@Work at Hard Rock Café Phnom Penh on Saturday 29 from 8 pm.