mrld: Building Bridges

In the world of entertainment, you’ll meet colorful characters. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a musician or an actor, a producer or a writer—chances are they’ll stick with you weeks or months or years after your meeting. They could leave an impression from a unique mannerism, a way of speaking or the fact that you expected a totally different personality from their body of work; either way.


But mrld (pronounced M-R-L-D), in that quick afternoon of our cover shoot, embedded in us a newfound appreciation for her voice and her talent, coupled with an endearing sense of humility and “I’m just glad to be here” energy. Trust us, she’s the real deal.

mrld is only 19, and like most people of her generation, her journey started online. Back in 2019, she posted her original song, An Art Gallery Could Never Be As Unique As You, on Twitter (because it was still called Twitter then). And with the way that algorithms work, she woke up to hundreds of likes that she didn’t expect—especially because she only had 40 followers. She explains: “Parang hindi nag-math yung math…Yung song na yun yung reason kung bakit ako nag-focus sa songwriting (The math didn’t math…That song is the reason why I focused on songwriting).”


And then one late night, mrld auditioned for Kean Cipriano and Chynna Ortaleza of O/C Records via Zoom. Careful not to wake her parents or her neighbors, mrld tried to keep her voice, music and excitement low, even with the music executives telling her that she sounded great. 


It was a surprise to her loved ones that she was, a few days later, a signed artist under O/C Records. She explains, “No, [I didn’t tell them I was going to audition] because I was like, ‘Sige, kakanta ako; bahala na [I’ll just sing, whatever happens will happen].’”


mrld never had any professional training before that. Not for her voice and not for the guitar that she plays like it’s a part of her. She does, however, give credit where credit is due. She talks endearingly of her mom who would sing often, instilling in her a love for the craft; and of her tita (aunt) who gave her the first guitar she ever owned.

mrld is wearing coordinates from MN+LA

An Art Gallery Could Never Be As Unique As You is the song that mrld credits as the start of it all. And it’s this same song that she was most looking forward to performing at Off The Weekend, a music festival in Indonesia, where she was the the sole Filipino artist to participate. 


“It’s such a big thing for me,” says mrld. “Maybe some artists were able to go outside of the country, but for me, it’s my first international gig. And I never thought of even performing on stage talaga.”


While mrld admits she was nervous in the weeks leading up to Off The Weekend—she’s used to having other OPM artists alongside her—she did share one thing she was looking forward to. “I’m actually so excited kasi I don’t have that many English songs, so yung mga Tagalog songs ko pwede kong i-introduce din to Indonesians and maybe, magugustuhan din nila (I’m actually so excited because I don’t have that many English songs, so I can introduce Tagalog songs to Indonesians and maybe they’ll like them],” she shares.


It’s a tall order to request from any artist. But mrld is the Filipina solo artist who currently holds the most number of monthly listeners on Spotify—that’s 4.4 million monthly—so we couldn’t be in better hands.


Her professional career might only have started three years ago, but that only means one thing: Despite all the accolades, stages and streams she’s already managed to accomplish, she will only rise higher.

When we ask mrld what she thinks makes her songs resonate so much with an audience, she gives us a simple answer: “I have a story to tell.” 


Asked to expound, she adds: “Sabi nga po nila, ‘A good song is a good song’ pero iba talaga kasi pag may substance yung ginawa mo (They say, ‘A good song is a good song’ but it’s different when you put substance into what you do). I think I’m able to relay that message through song.”


The 19-year-old, who currently juggles being a student and a musician, quickly adds that there’s comfort in knowing her music resonates with listeners. “Hindi ako nag-iisa sa mga pangyayari na yun (I’m not alone in my experiences),” she says.

mrld is wearing a woven top from John Jade Montecalvo

However, releasing anything out into the world leaves plenty of room for misinterpretation. You’ll find people who get it the way you intended, but there will always be others who take it in a way that’s meaningful to them. While other artists might be adamant about getting their specific meaning across, diving into interview after interview or going on social media to make themselves heard, mrld has learned to understand that there is beauty in the subjectivity of music.


“Honestly, ‘pag binigay ko yung kanta, sa kanila na yun (When I release a song, it’s already theirs),” mrld shares. “It’s whatever you want, kung ano yung interpretation mo (however you interpret it). If you think it’s a love song, [then it’s a love song]. But for me, I didn’t picture [it] as a love song.”

Now that mrld’s performance at Off The Weekend is done, what’s next for her? 


A few weeks ago, she released the audio track of Lihim, her latest single. And just before she and her brand flew to Indonesia, mrld went on set to film the music video for it. 


“With this one, we’re trying to switch it up, and first time kasi very artsy siya,” she teases. “And actually, first time din na may lead, na may partner ako, so I’m very excited. Kasi the [fans], they want me to have someone din for the music video, and now we’re gonna give it to them.”


(“With this one, we’re trying to switch it up, and for the first time, it’s very artsy,” she teases. “And actually, this is the first time that I’ll have a lead, that I’ll have a partner, so I’m very excited. Because the [fans] want me to have someone else in the music video, and now we’re gonna give it to them.”)

With recordings, shoots and performances filling up her calendar, mrld admits that balancing academic and her music careers is not an easy feat. “My career is something I really like, but school is also a priority. It’s so hard to pick a side,” she says. “[They say,] ‘You need to balance it out,’ but as much as I also tell people that, you really can’t.”


But as difficult as it has been—three years to graduation!—mrld is inspired by the people she works with and those who listen to her songs, and is continuously supported by her loved ones. If anything, they are the ones who make her believe that she is capable of succeeding in both aspects of her life. 


After all, the relationships she has built and continues to build will only help take her further.

We don’t know what the future has in store for mrld. We can’t foresee the stages she’ll perform on, the countries she’ll visit or the music she’ll be working on next. There’s no way of telling whose playlists she’ll make and what message they’ll make from her songs. 


But until we have the opportunity to watch it all unfold—and they will—we are sure of one thing: she is going to take every opportunity to continue making music. When someone this humble and talented wants nothing else but to connect with more people and reach their hearts through music, the possibilities are endless.


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Photography Wilmark Jolindon

Creative Direction Alexandra Lara

Interview and Cover Story Adie Pieraz

Fashion and Beauty Direction Sarah Santiago

Styling Bryan Laroza

Hair and Makeup Trixia Galura

Special Thanks O/C Records