Nicole Laurel Asensio, the multi-talented and multi-awarded musician, is poised to release her debut album for the year, "Mind Over Matter." The EP is made up of three lively original compositions that pierce the consciousness of a lost and lonely soul yearning for forgiveness and acceptance. 

January 26, 2024 is the debut date across all listening platforms while the launch party is scheduled on January 30, 2024 at 19 East. Featuring a unique guest performance by Iwi Laurel and Ang Bagong Luto ni Enriquez, there is a 500 peso entry fee. 

The term "Matter Over Mind," which appears on the EP cover, is a play on the proverb "Mind over matter." The inversion of the words suggests that, although it's sometimes easier said than done, it's sometimes necessary to come to terms with our emotions before picking ourselves up and moving on. 

Nicole Laurel Asensio said, "As we are fortunate to have a brand-new year, I am reminded of what it took to get here—the struggles, setbacks, and finding the courage to keep going." Thematically, "Matter Over Mind" also honors God's grace, the ability of human souls to overcome adversity, and the transformation of "turning one's scars into stars." 

"Comprehend," the EP's first track, is a smooth Neo-soul number with elements of both contemporary and vintage R&B. The narrative is told from the perspective of reliving your life as a movie and observing how different characters come and go with the passage of time. The lyrical language and wordplay reveal the complex process of recovering from failed relationships in a way that is both heartbreaking and poetic. The words may be melancholic, but the smooth arrangement—which includes chunky vocal passages and an all-saxophone piece set to a vibey beat—is what really shines through.

"Vibecheck" is a quick and charming reminder to see how your loved ones are doing, serving as a sonic palate cleanser. The melody and chords voluntarily become ingrained in a foundation of gospel influences. The little interlude, which is sung by Nicole Asensio, Kevin Yadao, and Gabe Dandan, is like friends checking in with one another and telling each other not to worry since everything will work out in the end. 

To complete the concoction 

The fast-paced English-Tagalog song "Get it Right" has subtle jazz, funk, and soul influences. Even though it seems bubbly and light at first, the song has a rich, full-bodied quality as it tells of troubles and tears that are kept buried beneath smiles and the desire to find redemption for oneself.  With a full live brass section, soulful piano and Rhodes licks, a lively backbeat, and a luxurious vocal section, the instrumentation is quite the decadent pleasure.


Nicole Asensio and Gabe Dandan’s writing tandem has proven prolific as this collection of tracks were all born out of impromptu jams caught on record.

“This collection of songs all began with impromptu jams. Nicole, me and our drummer Nigel Norris (who is currently in Europe) influences of artists we admire (like Steely Dan, Robert Glasper and Erykah Badu) set the tone for the initial jam session. We recorded the outcome in Southbay studio and Nicole developed her top-line ideas into lyrics and melodies, and later recorded her vocals with the help of recording engineer Mikel Miller. The arrangement blossomed as we would revisit each track daily and see what we could add or subtract. Because the chordal structure has its quirks and complexities, it was important to pay attention to detail. Renowned saxophone player Michael Guevarra did the horns arrangement for “Get it Right” and I did an impromptu arrangement alongside saxophone player Joeffrey Pangilinan for “Comprehend” “Vibecheck” was written in less than an hour. Nicole then sent it to our friend Kevin Yadao for additional vocals.” - Gabe Dandan

“The vocal arrangements where done in spare minutes between the busy gig season and late night production sessions. Gabe and I both agreed to give the harmonies unique colours to add a dose of something different in what may at first seem familiar sonically.”, Nicole Laurel Asensio added.

Gabe Dandan shared, “Mixing and Mastering the EP was for me the most meticulous part, I really felt that this EP was closer to my heart than many projects I have had the pleasure of producing so I wanted to mix and master it myself, even if I was new to the craft. Nicole trusted me and obliged, she was also there for every step and adjustment, I think we work well together, not just as co-writers, but for the entire production and post-production process.” 

Nicole Laurel Asensio shares that her musical inclination has been a blend of old and new, classic and current. She felt that sticking to one kind of sound or genre isn’t really for her and that is the main reason why she creates what she feels right in that moment and in that particular frame of mind while still leaving something familiar, perhaps in the vocal interpretation and inflections. According to her, Gabe has similar sensibilities. Like Gabe, Nicole's favourite thrill is also creating songs from impromptu jams, which for her is priceless, the amalgamation of time, place, emotion and taste coming together.

Timelessness is more appealing to Gabe than trends. It is an exciting process to see how they can make their own version of the music that both of them grew up liking. Traces of funk, Neo-soul, RnB, jazz and gospel are evident throughout the songs, but perhaps what makes its flavour unique is savouring the the thematic choices and nuances that unfold with each tune.

This year Nicole feel like a lot of pent up songs and stories need to be told, while the inspiration is at a fever pitch, it’s important to express, produce, create and grow from each artistic pursuit. She is looking forward to releasing more songs, perhaps in “suites” of two, three or more songs at a time to explore more themes. God willing, there will be a full album to look forward to in the coming months too.

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