Singer-songwriter Nicole Laurel Asensio is back with a holiday single. This time, her latest one titled “Christmas Without You” is a prequel to last year’s original composition “See You This Christmas.” Dropping soon on digital platforms, the song is a labor of love.
This year’s composition describes a couple saying their sweet goodbyes and exchanging well wishes as one of them needs to leave for work abroad. Inspired by love, the subjects maintain the relationship despite the distance by finding ways to stay positive during the holiday season. It is through the little holiday rituals they once shared that the memory of one another comes alive and they are empowered by by the thought of being together again in due time.
The creative process
“The initial songwriting process was quite simple. I began humming a melody and out came the first verse. It was after that that I couldn’t squeeze out anything. I started watching Christmas movies on Netflix in hopes of drawing lyrical inspiration,” Nicole shared. “A day later, I had my first draft of the song lyrics and melody. It was also at this point in time that I started working with a young Dumaguete- based Nigerian songwriter named Sam Akins on a few other music projects.”
Nicole decided to give Sam a video call and together, they made a few lyrical adjustments. At first, she seemed unsure about ending the song so she sent a rough phone-recorded demo to her collab partner and Sam tried singing the lines stylistically.
Nicole raved, “I loved what he had done when he sang it, so I decided to keep his soulful flavor in the coda of the song. Thematically, I wanted the song to traverse from having the persona alone in present day to plunging into her memories with her lover. Hence, a musical shift of sorts was in order.”
Soon, Sam and Nicole got to discuss details and brainstorm with Michael Guevarra, a bona-fide jazz big-band arranger and saxophone player. Michael screenshared his music sheets and filled them out as the two worked on the notes and melodies together.
“It was my first time to write and do arrangement sessions over Zoom, with all the connection interruptions, barking dogs and ambient noise. While Michael wrote out the big-band section, Ira Cruz and I got to work mapping out the intro, verse and coda of the song,” Nicole described. “It was a collaborative effort in terms of sound and arrangement. Michael enlisted Otep Concepcion on drums, Simon Tan (AMP Bigband) on upright bass, Nikko Rivera (who arranged last year’s “See You This Christmas”) on keys Lester Sorilla on trumpet, Darius Mendoza on Trombone and Himself on Saxophone.”
Production was kept simple and recording was done in their own homes.
“Christmas Without You” is a simple song with a soulful blend of intimate memories. It has raw, honest vocals, rich brassy sound, and a simple story of love and hope built to outlast distance and all the challenges life brings. The single will be out on all digital platforms on November 26, 2021 and its music video starring Nicole Laurel Asensio and Ranty Portento will be out on December 2, 2021.
In addition to writing and releasing original music, Nicole has been very active in numerous online concerts such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ “Kung Hindi Man” which also featured her original composition and MFlix brought to you by Pinoy Playlist.
This November, Nicole is also the solo headliner in a Dubai show for the “Veon” convention. She currently has entries in 8 different categories this year’s prestigious AWIT Awards and is nominated for both People’s Choice award for Best Female and Best Song.
Nicole expressed gratitude and excitement for the blessing of being able to perform in the midst of a pandemic. She said, “To be able to continue creating in these times is surreal, every moment spent with those we love, or doing what we love is a gift from God, never to be taken for granted. I am eternally grateful for those around me, for each and every one of you who inspire me to continue creative pursuits even when sometimes it may feel purposeless. I continue to hold full faith in the fact that there is a greater plan behind all of these challenges, and that greater days await us if we keep marching forward and doing the best we can with what we have now.”
WATCH the trailer:
Catch Nicole online via these digital platforms:
FB page: Nicole Laurel Asensio
Spotify: Nicole Asensio
Apple Music: Nicole Asensio
Youtube Channel: Nicole Asensio