Filipino artist Clara Benin aims for wider audience as she joins Sony’s new Southeast Asian label

Liesl-mae, Clara Benin and Mezzaluna

In hopes of “embracing the eclectic appeal and rich diversity” of Southeast Asia, Sony Music Entertainment introduced a new pan-regional label called Offmute, which will focus on discovering emerging artists, and giving them the resources they need to succeed in the region.

In a video conference, the label named three new additions to its roster of talents, which includes Filipino singer-songwriter Clara Benin. “I’m excited for my music to have a wider reach. And I do hope we can travel around Southeast Asia with Offmute once that’s possible again,” she said.

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Known for meshing “unspoken ruminations with commitment and depth,” the indie and folk-pop musician is behind the hits “Tila” and “Parallel Universe.” “I feel so honored to be here, and I’m excited to be working on new music with the label,” said Clara. “And I’m super open to working with the artists. I would love to do that.”

For Sony Music Philippines general manager Roslyn Pineda, Clara embodies the vision or concept of Offmute. “It’s great that other markets think so, too. With a Southeast Asian team supporting her, we’re thrilled that Clara’s introspective songwriting and moving vocals will be able to reach new audiences,” she said.

‘Part of our lives’

Joining Clara in the Offmute family are Indonesian alt-pop sensation Mezzaluna and Malaysian singer-songwriter Liesl-mae.

“I’m grateful that this will be launched in Southeast Asia, and it will have an impact on my musicality. Music is part of our lives and I want to make them feel the same things I feel when I listen to other artist’s music,” said Mezzaluna, who wields her deep and soulful vocals to tell “intensely personal” stories.

“I want to have my message, thoughts and art conveyed to other people. This is a big opportunity for me,” she added.

Liesl-mae, on the other hand, has been making waves in her home country for her soothing and lullaby-like compositions. “I’m so excited about having more people listening to my music. If I can spread my message with music around Southeast Asia, that would be great,” said the singer, who also hopes to use her platform for mental health awareness.

As its name implies, Offmute was conceptualized amid the COVID-19 pandemic, where people on online platforms can easily mute anyone with a single tap.

Across the region

“With the lack of mobility, travel and the ability to move around and have face-to-face interactions with the audiences, it can be very difficult to break through the noise. Through Offmute, we hope that amazing artists are able to reach audiences across the region,” Sony Music Singapore Shawn Paltiel said.

“We want to switch the mute button off because we’re so used to being able to mute things,” he added. “We want to make sure that the artists have a platform.”
The three artists are busy even while staying at home, composing new music and honing their instrument-playing skills.

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“I write about my experiences and the people I met. My lyrics are based on things that have happened to me. Songwriting is an expression of my feelings,” said Liesl-mae,
“I draw inspiration from personal experiences and life—that’s what I live to write about,” Clara said. “Songwriting has always been therapeutic for me and it helps me process what I feel and what I go through in life. It’s an outlet for me.”

Asked what piece of advice she can give to other young talents, Clara underscored the importance of authenticity. “A lot of our listeners are craving for something real. Let’s just stay true to ourselves and our sound. Don’t be afraid to explore and evolve,” she said. INQ

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