A simple start
Nery grew up in Cagayan De Oro, and had what he says was a simple childhood.
“I grew up in the streets,” he says. “I liked playing basketball. Kalaro ko yung mga tambay. We used to steal fruits from our neighbors’ trees.”
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Nery never had formal voice training, but says he joined the Glee Club at Ateneo de Cagayan, which he says helped develop his voice and his confidence.
He pursued Psychology in college, and spent time working as a call center agent and as an English tutor for Japanese students online. But all that didn’t last when he realized that music was what he was meant to be doing.
“I followed my dreams,” he says. “It was in college when I realized that I knew how to write songs.”
But he had been writing since high school, songs mostly for and about crushes and teen obsessions. Friends were encouraging, telling him they liked what they heard, but the perfectionist in him couldn’t bring himself to actually finish any song. He joined the basketball team and says he did “other things” unrelated to music.
But when the realization hit—the moment when he strung words together and judged them to be good enough—he never looked back.
Path to stardom
Nery started out as most struggling musicians do—he performed at company parties, birthdays, weddings, and even beauty pageants.
“I serenaded the candidates,” he says. “That became my life.”
But unlike other performers content with singing other people’s songs, Nery longed to write and sing his own material. He knew he was destined for something more.
It was at a gig in Bukidnon, where he sang what eventually became his first single, “Life Puzzle,” when things took a turn. A friend asked him after if he was signed with a label and when he answered in the negative, the friend passed his number to Kean Cipriano. The Callalilly frontman said he was immediately taken with Nery the first time he heard him.
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“I just thought he had a refreshing sound,” Cipriano says when he heard “Life Puzzle.” “Imagine someone from CDO, this artist, with this sound. Na-capture ako agad. It was a pulse thing. Instantly I knew more people needed to hear him.”