Dubai: A young Filipina nurse and laser therapist has a new-found career: a recording artist. Mariella “Yelle” Gutierrez Castro, 24, has just released two tracks, Bubble and Escape, on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and opm2go, all top music download websites.
Fresh from the recording sessions with GMA Records, one of Manila’s biggest studios, Yelle can’t believe her sudden twist of fate. Released on June 18, Bubble is at No 14 on the popular online Filipino music countdown (www.myxph.com) and No 21 on iTunes Philippines.
“I’m planning to continue working as a nurse and laser therapist,” said Yelle, who works at the Dubai Medical Village in Jumeirah. “I’m testing the waters. I’m just a newbie [in the music industry]. A nurse for now, [but] why not do some awesome things at the same time, eh?
“Besides, the material for my compositions comes from real life – its ups and downs, so yeah, tuloy ang ikot ng mundo (the world must go on).”
Does she sing to her patients? “No, not really,” she said. “But my employer (Dr. Hamid Taghaddos) supports me in my music career.”
Yelle started singing at age four after her dad, Dubai-based artist Marcos, gave her a cassette recorder with a microphone as a gift. She progressed from singing songs of Lea Salonga (A Whole New World) to learning classical piano.
After passing the nursing board exams in 2009 she joined her dad in Dubai. Things moved quickly. Yelle wrote Bubble in January 2013 – nothing to do with the financial crisis, she said.
“Someone told me that whenever you’re performing, you have to create a certain bubble so you wouldn’t be affected by the crowd around you. It’s a shield or protection. Anything or anyone could serve as a bubble for your family or relationship,” she said.
Next she wrote Escape on a camping trip with Dubai friends during a long Eid holiday. “I needed that ‘escape’ because I wanna decide on my own, think clearly, away from people. And when I thought of the first lines of the song, it was clear that I had made my mind up .”
It seems music lovers are taking notice. Two days after GMA Records uploaded her two singles, Bubble made it to the Top 20 on myxph.com, an online Filipino weekly music countdown site.
Lady luck’s smile
How she snagged her recording deal was a bit of a fluke. “I was practising and my father, who was outside our house with friends, called me and introduced me to Sherrie Ang, a music industry executive. She asked me to video record some of my songs and do some covers too. I did and to my surprise she sent it to different record labels back home.”
Yelle went to Manila in March to play some of her compositions for the head of GMA records, Rene Salta. He seemed convinced.
Yelle signed the contract, recorded the two songs, did photoshoots and videos in just 32 days.
It’s too early to say how the public will receive her melodious, mellow indie pop songs. But the chorus of Bubble rang in my ears for days. Escape is more reflective, with the piano directing the listener to a rhythmic chorus. Both songs lean towards the twenty-something crowd, though Yelle’s voice reminds me of Mandy Moore.
Yelle is clear about her current direction. “My plan actually, is to study more, focusing on the aesthetic and anti-ageing process. I want to study that stuff. But besides that I also want to learn to play some musical instruments.”