Jason Dhakal: 'I'm Not Playing Around This Time'

He’s back and ready for more.
IMAGE WARNER MUSIC GROUP

The first I've heard of Jason Dhakal, a 21-year old Oman-born R&B singer whose skill set ranges from an Arthur Nery collaboration to a Paradise Rising feature, was when he released the underground sleeper hit “Night In,” his debut EP with frequent collaborator dot.jaime. Dhakal made a name for himself from the ground up, having moved to the Philippines in 2017. 

The EP made ripples within the local R&B scene, with listeners wanting to find out who the golden voice was behind the catchy, heartfelt songs.

Since then, the artist has worked the music scene in Manila, collaborated with the most sought-after music producers and was on his way to becoming a household name. 

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But then the pandemic hit. Almost every other musician had to put their plans on hold during the lockdown, especially during the first half of 2020. Dhakal, though, had tons of ideas, and, suddenly, a lot of time in his hands. He ended up writing more songs during the first two years of the pandemic. His latest single, “Can’t Get Enough” is a product of growth and tenacity and serves as a teaser for a bigger, much better version of himself for his upcoming album under Warner Music, which is slated to release later in the year. 

Photo by Warner Music Philippines.
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'Can't Get Enough'

Dhakal unveiled the music video for “Can’t Get Enough” one Thursday afternoon in Quezon City. Sultry and sappy, the video is split into two, with Dhakal bathing in a dark shower, then suddenly appearing in a rose-colored room with disco balls shimmering across the wallpaper. The video then switches rhythmically, with more upbeat percussion courtesy of veteran sessionist Pat Sarabia, whose drumming credentials ranges from indie rock to jazz to folk music. Dhakal is then seen dancing slowly into a trance, with a sudden burst of euphoria as he waltzes with an unnamed partner. 

After a few blissful romantic backyard chase scenes, the artist realizes that all of it was just a dream. And just when you think Dhakal knows how to keep viewers hanging, he’s got even more on the backburner. 

When explaining the themes of the song and what it represents, Dhakal says love is universal in “Can’t Get Enough.”

“In general, it’s queer love, like love in general. We could relate to that so easily.” he says, “So it's like ‘you know the feeling;’ what’s so different about mine?” 

Dhakal was able to respond to queries relating to collaborations and how much of the material he has produced have yielded successful results, even dating back when he was still starting out working with lesser-known producers. 

“I feel like, in any type of art in general…like me being collaborative in everything, not even in just the creative aspect, like just being super collaborative with everyone–makes the best art, from my experience” 

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Quality control

When it comes to switching genres, Dhakal merging his own style of R&B with other sounds and styles comes naturally for him. The artist exploring different things doesn’t necessarily mean he’s wanting to do these songs just because it's popular or ‘popping off’. He knew from the very start that it's all about quality control, even from a songwriter’s perspective. However, Dhakal supports the idea of pushing the envelope in the near future. 

Photo by Warner Music Philippines.

“I definitely did want to see that at some point,” he says about expanding his sound and exploring other genres. “I really want to do a remix album, like, I’m working hard, girl. Like, you know you’re going to see everything like techno, jazz. I can do anything.” 

Interestingly, Dhakal was able to bring up the places he grew up in, which have become an integral part of his development in honing his style in singing. A fascinating fact from his upbringing has led him to become an outlier in the scene. 

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“I feel like Oman is really inspired by music…ever since I was growing up.” he says. “I’m not sure if you know this but in mosques they would have prayer time at 6 p.m. and you would read the Quran. I really was inspired by how they read the book.”

Dhakal then teased the entire press conference by saying more music is coming soon. While hyping up the crowd from the front to the back, his show of confidence lifted the mood for the entire room to witness.

“This is just a starter,” he teased. “I’m not playing around this time.” 

 

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Elijah Timothy Pareño
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