The soundtrack to Keiko Necesario's life, as curated by the songstress herself
Wonder Fresh, our monthly round-up of tracks to listen to, is taking on a different form this month. For the month of August, we zero in on Filipino musician Keiko Necesario, whose latest single Dangerous was just introduced to the world last weekend. Here, Keiko unpacks the single and uses our prized Wonder Fresh real estate to recommend some of her own favorites.
Keiko Necesario’s Spotify discography only dates back to 2015, but she’s been making music for much, much longer than that.
She could probably count the age she started writing her own songs on one hand, but it’s a specific moment in third grade that she recalls when asked about her songwriting beginnings. “I remember it really sparked my songwriting season when I had a duo thing back when I was in the third grade. My friend was actually a music lover also, and we called ourselves Butterfly—I don’t know why!” she recalls fondly. A small start, but a start nevertheless—and she’s been penning songs nonstop ever since.
Keiko’s last release—an early July drop entitled Right Next to You—was anchored in her own exploration in the realms of faith and love. A surge of warmth, Right Next to You feels like a welcome home and a murmured I miss you after a long stretch spent away. Dangerous, the second single off her upcoming album, takes a different approach. “Sometimes a song would be inspired by a certain situation I’ve seen, or something I’ve experienced myself. Sometimes it’s someone else’s experience—nonetheless, it’s always from a relatable situation that I want people to get drawn into.”
Rather than a personal encounter, Dangerous finds footing in a scenario many of us know and all of us fear: blurring the divide between friendship and love. After all, is there anything quite as dangerous as falling for your best friend?
Written by Keiko and produced by London-based South African duo Chasing Fantasia, Dangerous is another solid step towards her next second album, Ready, Let Go, slated for September. In the thick of album preparations, we caught up with the songstress, who curated a list of tracks that reflect her journey as a musician thus far.
Joni Mitchel, Both Sides Now
For this song, I first heard this because Sharon Cuneta actually sang this for her movie, Magkapatid. Before, I didn’t really understand the meaning, but I remember when I finally listened to this very track, I fell in love with it because of how Joni Mitchel articulately described what life is. When you’re a kid, you don’t have a care in the world. When you’re finally falling in love, it’s love that you really learn about, and then life in a general sense. This song is also special to me because back in 2016, I recorded a cover of this song. Last year, it got to be part of Ackley Bridge, one of the long-running series in the UK and they contacted me for that. I guess it’s also pretty special because a song that means so much to me actually got into a pretty cool and very dramatic series like that.
Maggie Rogers, Back in My Body
Back when I was in London, I would listen to this. If you hear the first verse, it says, “I was stuck in London when I felt it coming down.” I just felt that I could relate to it on so many levels. I remember for my Escape EP in 2017, I felt like it was such a transition for me: that I was still asleep but it was a transition into something else, like a dream. And for the next album and for the very season that I’m in now, I feel like it’s an awakening, and that I’m finally back in my body and not dreaming anymore. Back in my body, I’m fully awake.
Taylor Swift, All Too Well
Taylor Swift is such a big part of my songwriting career, because as we all know, she’s one of the best songwriters of this generation. She’s so cool. Whether it’s about her experience or someone else’s, or even about a nonexistent experience, it’s so cool how she can write about that kind of stuff. All Too Well for me is just like Both Sides Now. To me, they perfectly describe a story. With All Too Well, I remember Taylor Swift saying that she told this story so well from the sweet beginning to the bitter end, and that was so cool.
Ebe Dancel, KZ Tandigan, Huwag Ka Nang Umiyak
If we’re gonna talk about writing Tagalog songs, Ebe Dancel is definitely one of my heroes. The way he writes is just so profound and very articulate as well. With this song, it’s just so assuring song to know you’re not alone, that someone is there for you that, “Hey, I’m here and I’m with you.” Gustong gusto ko yung line na “puso’t isip ko nasa iyong tabi.” Feeling ko na kahit malayo yung isang tao, sabihin niya lang sa ‘yo yung words na ito… words are powerful, and songs are powerful. When Ebe Dancel wrote this song and even his other songs, sobrang nakaka-empower and nakaka-encourage to live life in its most purposeful form.
John Mayer, In Your Atmosphere
John Mayer is my number one favorite artist of all time. He really is amazing in terms of songwriting. Like Taylor Swift, he comes up with the simplest situation ever and turns it into such an emotional and relatable song. In Your Atmosphere for me is just one of those songs that really tugs at your heart, and when I listen to it… the very first lyrics of this song are so simple, but how can they hurt that much? “I don’t think I’m gonna go to LA anymore, I don’t know what it’s like to land and not race to your door,” with those lines, it’s so simple, and it’s something that you would say even when you’re not singing. But when he put those lines into this song, it’s like they mattered more.
Housefires, Build My Life
This is a worship song and it’s a powerful song for me, because it reminds me of who my life is anchored in. That I should really always put my faith in God. That when He is my life’s foundation, I’m never gonna crumble. In the song, it says, “and I will build my life upon Your love; it is a firm foundation.” It really reminds you that you can’t do it alone. Build My Life is one of my life songs, because it reminds me that my life isn’t about me; it’s about the Lord and about the people He brought to me. You can’t live your life for yourself.
Clara Benin, Wine
I think the reason why Wine is actually not on any musical platforms is because Clara decided it would be the song people would be coming back to every time she’d sing it live. Wine is an amazing song. Oh my gosh. To me, she related love in general to wine and drinking wine—and it was so on point how she described it. He’s a vice that you can’t really stop: you’re not sure if it’s good or not, but it feels good, it tastes good, and it’s so cool to me. This song inspires me to make songs that are just like it, that perfectly describes something metaphorically.
Sabu is one of my best friends, and she’s also an amazing singer-songwriter. I’m certain and confident that more people should listen to her. This song is about validation, and it asks the question of whether or not you actually need validation from other people. She was also just speaking to God, and God was actually also speaking to her through this song.
In the chorus, it says, “Why do you look so far away? Four words of validation, when they can’t give you all their time and adoration. They don’t know you like I do.” And I’m like, what the heck?! That’s exactly who and what God is to us. He knows us to the very core, and knows us better than we know ourselves. Validation should always come from Him, and when He says that you are good, you are good. When He says that you’re His treasure, you have to believe it.
Sara Bareilles, Gravity
Gravity, when I first heard it in 2013—I think I was a bit late hearing this song—spoke to me in many different ways. You know how you really romanticize the idea of unrequited love? When I heard this, I was really in that situation at that time, so it really meant something, ‘yung mga kaartehan na ganun. When you try to get away from someone—it’s kind of like science—you can’t, because gravity is this natural thing that really pulls you back.
Steven Curtis Chapman, I Will Be Here
There are a lot of different versions [of this song], but this is one of my favorites. I Will Be Here is a song that speaks about the truth when you’re in a relationship or in a friendship, and you know that it’s not always a walk in the park. It’s gonna be you choosing to stay and choosing to say that you will always be there for someone. It’s not just about people, but it’s like talking to music, or your job, or your purpose—is like saying I will be true to you, and to what I do, and promising that you’re gonna take care of it. That speaks a lot for me and for my career as a musician, because I want to be able to say that through ups and downs, that I know my purpose.
RELATED: Wonder Fresh: July: We’ll Be Alright
Listen to Keiko's August playlist over on Spotify.
Stream Keiko Necesario's latest single, Dangerous, on all major music platforms. Stay in the loop on what she's up to and her upcoming album by following her on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Special thanks to Warner Music Philippines