Filipino-Canadian singer Darren Espanto was all set to perform for fans at an online concert titled ‘Darren Home Run: The Comeback Concert’ in May, when it had to postponed after the star came into contact with someone with COVID-19.
During a Zoom call with Gulf News, Espanto — now in the clear — was all smiles as he talked about finally making that comeback at the concert that’s been rescheduled for June 19.
The singer, who first gained fame as a contestant on ‘The Voice Kids Philippines’, opened up about what fans can expect from his show and how COVID-19 has come close to his family...
You have a concert coming up soon. How have you been preparing for it?
I’m very excited for all the preparations we’re making for my concert because I haven’t performed in a year. So I was very excited to get back to doing rehearsals and stuff like that. I started rehearsing songs that I used to sing from before just so that I could stretch my vocal cords a bit and get them ready for the concert as well. And also practicing a few dance songs that I used to perform [just so I can keep up my] stamina for the concert.
What can fans expect from your concert?
This is a more mature side of me… well I would say it’s super mature but it’s a more mature side of Darren compared to my other shows from before. And I personally chose most of the songs in the set list as well and it’s not just one genre that I’ll be doing. So there’s a lot of upbeat songs and a lot of slow songs as well and there’s going to be a lot of dancing.
What are you most excited about for the concert?
There’s a lot of things to be excited about… I guess everyone seeing what we’ve been preparing for the past few weeks is what I’m most excited about. Because the whole concert for me is very special.
Because you just turned 20 right?
Yeah, it was my birthday. Last May 24. So it’s kind of like a birthday concert as well or a celebration.
It can’t be easy to be a performer, a singer during a pandemic. How have you been kind of coping and what do you feel about not being able to perform on a big stage?
When I was in Canada for a year I wasn’t really performing on an actual stage and stuff like that. I would only perform virtually in virtual shows and concerts and I would perform with a green screen behind me. So when I got back to the Philippines I was so excited. I missed performing on an actual stage with a with a whole setup and actual people working with me, not just virtually via Zoom and stuff like that. So, it’s something that I really miss doing and I’m very happy that I’m back to doing it. I’m back in the Philippines and I’m glad to be working again.
Do you feel kind of any pressure for the future now that things have slowed down during the pandemic? How do you see your career going?
I guess I’m lucky enough to be one of the people who weren’t as affected as much as other people because, of course, the world wouldn’t be the same without music. So us performers, we try to spread a bit of positivity through virtual events. And also, of course, like the Sunday variety show that I always do every week, which is called a ‘ASAP Natin ‘To’. So I’m not really too afraid or concerned about [whether] singers or performers are still going to be relevant in the future because I think the world still needs music. Of course, music is my passion and something that I’ve always loved doing since I was a kid and I don’t see myself not doing it any time soon.
How do you keep yourself motivated to come up with new music? How do you find inspiration?
For me, personally, I find inspiration in a lot of things. Sometimes it’s my family or friends or a personal experience I’ve had in life. I guess what keeps me driven to keep making new music is again my passion for performing and music. And of course, the people who’ve supported me. I guess I want to keep on exploring different genres. I don’t want to stick to just one and keep myself boxed in.
What are some of the places that you would love to visit and tour once things get better?
I’d love to explore the Philippines more actually because when I do shows there, when I fly out to different provinces, it’s the same setup where I get to the airport, go to the hotel and then go to the venue, I sing and then I fly the next day. So I’d love to explore the Philippines more because there are so many wonderful places whether it be beaches or even mountains. So I feel like I don’t want to do too many international travels, but I definitely love to explore Europe more as well and South East Asia.
You’re so young and you’ve experienced so much so far. Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself?
During the pandemic I learned how to be more responsible and stop relying on other people to do certain things. Because of course, when I was in Canada, I didn’t have anyone to set up my lights or my computer and stuff like that... I always used to say this even before the pandemic: to appreciate the small things in life. But with everything going around, you know, it has such a whole different meaning to me... being able to work is something that I’m grateful for because not everyone has the chance to during these days. I’ve learned to always see the silver lining in everything, because even though sometimes we have to go through struggles in life, there’s always going to be a brighter side to things. So you just gotta stay positive and, of course, keep your swab test results negative.
Darren on his parents being frontliners:
“When my parents would get home, in the garage they would put their their uniforms in a separate bag because that’s their own laundry basket because they don’t want to mix it with ours. They’ve had a few experiences in their units - my dad is in the brain injury unit and my mom is in the hospice - where there were COVID-19 outbreaks. All of us would have our own separate rooms. We’re very blessed because even though they’ve had outbreaks in their units my parents never tested positive, thank God."
Darren on wanting to see more of Dubai:
“I’ve actually performed in Dubai twice but every time I’m there we would get to the airport and then go straight to the hotel and do a few meet-and-greets, if there are any, and then after that we would perform and then we would have to fly back to the Philippines. Yeah, I haven’t really explored Dubai as much as I’d want to and it’s definitely on my travel list once everything’s gone back to normal… because I haven’t been to the top of the Burj Khalifa. I haven’t really gone ziplining and one thing I really want to do in Dubai is Skydive.”
Watch our quickfire round with Darren Espanto
Don’t miss it!
‘Darren Home Run: The Comeback Concert’ will stream on June 19 at 8pm Manila time (4pm UAE time) with a rerun on June 20 at 10am Manila time. Tickets starting from 699 Philippine pesos (Dh53) and are available online.