What was it like seeing someone you were infatuated with in the past—a crush, an ex-girlfriend, or someone you idolized? Did you feel awkward? A little shy? Or did you get giddy inside? Like us, you probably had mixed emotions. Because overwhelming and overflowing feelings like these are so hard to explain and express, you just dive in, trusting the flow to keep you afloat.
That's exactly what we felt like seeing certified ‘90s crushes and OPM icons Aia De Leon, Barbie Almalbis, and Kitchie Nadal. We watched their gigs from years back, when they were still rockin' out with their respective bands: Imago, Barbie’s Cradle, Hungry Young Poets, and Mojofly.
Onstage, they were goddesses. With a mic and guitar in their hands, these ladies effortlessly made crowds fall under their spell. We were hypnotized by their voices, we were enamored by their music.
They were every high school boys' first crushes. They were every giggling girls' inspiration to rock. With sold-out albums and concerts, relatable songs and LSS-inducing hits, they are among the greatest female OPM musicians.
Fast-forward to the present. Here we are, offstage and face to face with the women whose music made such a huge impact in our lives. What's mesmerizing is they haven’t aged a bit.
And before we fall under their wicked spelll once again through their upcoming concert “Secrets: The Repeat” on February 17 at the Music Museum, we had the chance to talk to these lovely ladies—uncensored, unfiltered, and with no secrets to hide.
Bar gigs aside and before the successful Secrets last year, it’s been a while since the last time you performed on the big stage. What have you been up to during your sabbatical?
Kitchie: That’s an easy question for me kasi I just got married. I’ve been in and out of the country. But mostly, busy with the family talaga.
Barbie: Sa akin ganun din. Nagka-dalawang kids for the last nine years. I’ve been doing bar gigs, writing, recording. But most of the time, mostly family time din.
Aia: These past years have been a time to get know myself better, to evaluate and all. And of course, writing songs, rediscovering my love, which is performing.
Barbie is a full-time mom, Kitchie is currently enjoying the married life, and Aia is heavily involved with various commitments. Yet, the three of you have still managed to squeeze in your music endeavors. How do you balance your busy schedules with music?
Barbie: When I was younger, I used to be very carefree and spontaneous. But when I started to take school seriously, and was doing music at the same time, dito ko natutunan mag-organize. Being organized also helped me a lot in my family life. Talagang nakikita ko rin yung priorities ko, yung mga dapat kong gawin, dapat na unahin. Nakikita ko na pag di ko na kaya, I say “no.” One day at a time lang.
Aia: You don’t sweat the small stuff. You have to pat yourself on the back and say “Pwede pa yan bukas!”
Kitchie: For me it’s very important that you have a team. I’m really thankful for my manager down to the PA, and my band mates—these people really help me set my priorities straight. I learned to be on time. Otherwise, kung ako lang siguro, medyo spontaneous din ako, so magulo (laughs).
Do you still get jitters minutes before the actual performance?
Barbie: Ako sometimes, lalo na kunyari di ako prepared. Nakakakaba di ba, kasi magme-memorize ka pa. Pero para naman siyang kaba na may halong excitement.
Aia: Every time! Pero yung nakakakaba is when everybody keeps quiet. Super, super quiet. Pag naririning ko yung “Quiet in the set!” nagsisimula na yung kaba ko. Oh no, it’s gonna be quiet! (laughs)
Kitchie: Ako naman, takot na takot ako pag nagko-cover. Lalo na pag di ko type yung iko-cover. Lalo na pag ano…
Aia: Di si Shakira yun!
Kitchie: Pero yung beat niya parang si Shakira e di ba. Kasi nagkaroon kami ng ano…
Aia and Barbie: Wag mong sabihin!
Kitchie: Pinagawan kami ng cover kaso ang hirap seryosohin ng ginawa namin. Kasi parang yung beat niya Shakira…
Barbie: Tapos may sayaw sayaw…
Aia: May outfit pa…
Kitchie: Nagpa-practice pa lang tayo nun, kinakabahan na ako!
That made us curious! What were you wearing then? Can we find that video on YouTube?
Aia: Naka-Hawaiian outfit kami, luau kasi yung theme.
Barbie: Wala, wala yung online, secret lang yun.
Aia: Mahilig kami sa secrets e…
Okay, guess we have to amp our research skills to be able to find that video. Anyway, speaking of secrets, care to share some of your pre-gig rituals?
Barbie: Syempre make up muna (laughs), vocalize, mag-aayos. Then I also pray before performing. And stretching, of course, para maging warm ang katawan.
Aia: Ako rin, I pray. Tapos kung may boyfriend tatawag sa boyfriend: “Hi! Im about to sing!”
Barbie and Kitchie: Supportive!
Aia: Syempre malapit na mag-Valentine's…
Barbie: Nanawagan po kami, FHM nation…
Aia: Nananawagan po si Barbie on behalf of me…
Barbie: Si Aia po ay ready na. Wag na kayong torpe..
So what turns our ‘90s crushes on? Any tips on how to impress a woman who rocks?
Aia: Mabait. Tsaka lalaking-lalaki.
Kitchie: Anong klaseng lalaking-lalaki?
Barbie: Mountain Man ganun?
Aia: Hindi. Ha ha! May paninindigan. May values.
Barbie: O dun muna tayo sa values…
Aia: Marami pa e.
Barbie: FHM readers, so yun yung mga non-negotiables ni Aia. Yung negotiables ba?
Aia: Oo! Ha ha!
Kitchie: Anong “hugis” ba? Di ba yun yung song mo, “Hugis ng Pag-ibig?”
Aia: Basta dapat malinis na malinis. Mahaba masyado para dito. Basta, akala ninyo sutil ako, pero mabait ako. I realized na when a guy cries, they get my attention. I give them time, listen to them. Syempre kasi parang respeto ko na sa kanila yun. If they express interest, ibig sabihin binigay na nila sa'kin yung bola for me to process it and for me to decide if you can continue.
Kitchie: So what type of guys yung sa tingin mo talaga e interesting sa’yo?
Aia: Siguro yung ano, yung aalagaan ako.
Barbie: So guys, dapat very thoughtful, very maalaga.
Kitchie: Motherly ba dapat?
Aia: Di naman ganung alaga! Ha ha! Yung parang nakita ka na pagod ka, iko-comfort ka.
Barbie: O submit nyo na lang ang resume nyo sa FHM office ah!
We’re sure we’ll get an overwhelming response, Aia, we'll update you. Back to music, do you see any major changes in the music industry since the last time you were in the limelight?
Barbie: Continuously naman na nagbabago ang music scene. Isa sa major change na nakita ko ngayon e andaming bagong musicians na lumalabas at ang gagaling nila. And I feel like yung support ng parents na maging musician ang anak nila is so different than before. Dati, there were a few musicians lang, pero ngayon lahat magaling.
Kitchie: There’s future in music, kumbaga.
Barbie: Yes, exactly! Now, you can do it professionally. Plus, there’s a lot of new and very original sounds. I’m such a fan of the music now.
That's true. So many artists have emerged primarily because everyone can easily share their music now. Like we have Soundcloud, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, etc. Do you see these technological advances as clear advantages?
Aia: When you stumble upon something, on any platform, the most important thing is that the listener is able to relate to your music. So the platform doesn’t really matter. Ako mas masaya kasi this era, we are not compelled to make a hit song, we can just freely write what we want. And then any one of these songs can be uploaded anytime. Imagine that would be uploaded in a platform, Spotify, and then it found itself into a playlist of another person, or maybe from Spotify itself. Then people would be able to listen to it, and not just today, people can still listen to it 60 years from now. And that’s exactly what I want. Wala ng time yung pagiging “hit song” ng isang kanta, di siya nakatali lang to this time. Walang pressure yung song o yung artist.
Barbie: Parang yung “God Gave Me You.”
Aia: Kailan ba yun?
Kitchie: That’s an old, old song.
Barbie: Oo matagal na yun, tapos sumikat ulit, thanks to TV and social media.
Kitchie: For me, even if the songs are not that popular, and since the Internet’s there—dun nakikita at naririnig yung ibang songs, nagkakaroon ng fan base everywhere. And for us musicians it’s easier for us to have opportunities everywhere, to travel. Plus factor pa na Filipinos are all over the world, so they invite us to perform there. Unlike before, na pag may hit song ka dito e usually ang gigs mo ay dito lang. For example, andaming dumating ditong bands na di ko kilala pero nakakagulat kasi may following sila. So I think that’s the best thing that Internet has brought to the music scene.
The three of you were once part of bands. Now, all of you are considered full-fledged solo artists. Did breaking free from your previous bands make you better musicians/artists?
Barbie: Hanggang ngayon kasi, I still collaborate with a band, kasi yun na yung nakasanayan kong set-up when I make an album. It’s still the same process. With a band, you have to study the song together, pati sa gigs, sabay-sabay din kami. Ngayon, it’s easier pag mag-isa ka kasi you can set your own direction. But definitely, my band is a big part of me, and the music that I have now.
Aia: The band set the foundation for me to brave the next step, which is to express myself freely.
Kitchie: I still work with my band. Sometimes, I even give them bigger responsibilities. Kasi I also take advantage because they are all good musicians, so I try to learn from them.
Any favorites from your songs? What’s the story behind that song?
Barbie: I have one song that comes to mind, medyo old song na siya, it’s called “Sorry Song” di siya naging single, but part siya nung album ko. The song is about God. Isa siya sa mga unang songs na nasulat ko tungkol sa Kanya. It had something to do about the time when I had so many doubts, tapos nung nakilala ko si God, parang, the reason I didn’t trust Him was because of me. And then I found out na He was faithful all along.
Aia: For me it’s the “Rain Song" because when I wrote it, I was so carefree. I was not thinking of anything. It was actually just an exercise. I didn’t sit down to write it seriously. May nakita lang ako na makulimlim na clouds. The clouds were so heavy, and it was crawling towards me. Then it started to be windy.
Kitchie: Pero may tsismis tungkol sa “Rain Song”. May nagsabi sa akin na nasulat mo raw yun dahil may nag-backmask…
Aia: Talaga? Ano yun?! Ha ha!
Barbie: Where did you get that tsismis?!
Kitchie: I don’t know, but yun yung kumakalat...
Aia: Ano raw, satanista raw ako?
Kitchie: Hindi. Ha ha! Basta may backmasked daw yung kantang yon.
Barbie: Feeling ko may guy na nagpapa-impress sayo kaya nagsasabi ng trivia.
Kitchie: Basta, parang chant daw siya.
Aia: Yung lyrics nun ano “Look away, look away, grey skies see it coming. Cool my fire.”
Kitchie: Paano nga nangyari yun?
Aia: Binaliktad-baliktad ko lang yung words. Di po siya backmask. Para po siyang play of words.
Kitchie: Aia’s school of phonetics!
Aia: Parang, “Kool yawa see, see't koomen yarg seiks, yarg seiks cool mi faree.”
Barbie: So what is that? From what word?
Aia: “Kool” is “look” and “yawa” is “away.”
Barbie: Ah! So “look away” yun?
Aia: Yes! Basta baliktad-baliktad. Hindi backmask! Ha ha!
Kitchie: Ako, usually nagiging favorite ko kapag bago e. Probably my favorite now is one of the songs from my latest album, yung Isaac. Gusto ko yung song na yun kasi parang na-resolve yung issue ko about one of the stories sa Bible, yung about Abraham offering his only son, Isaac. Kasi di ko maintindihan ano nangyari kasi how can a loving God ask that of someone. It’s hard to reconcile those thoughts. After writing that, naintindihan ko na, kasi, he’s God. We just have to accept that. Everything else is secondary.
You, guys don’t seem to age. How do you keep the “hotness” intact?
Aia: You see this uban over here? It’s not just one! They are five now. I really hate it. Ha ha!
Kitchie: Okay yan, style yan!
Barbie: We’d like to thank our lighting director, our makeup artist, for making us look young.
Any last message for your fans and FHM nation?
Aia: Don’t forget to watch “Secrets: The Repeat Concert” this February 17.
Barbie: At the Music Museum…
Kitchie: 7:30 PM. See you there!
Aia, Barbie, and Kitchie: And we have a special treat for the FHM readers. FHM Sessions is back! So please watch for our videos in the coming weeks, as we exclusively treat you to some of our all-time favorite hits and new music. Abangan!
For more updates on Secrets The Repeat Concert: A Night with #AiaBarbieKitchie you may follow them on Facebook at http://facebook.com/aiabarbiekitchie. Tickets are available online via aiabarbiekitchie.com, or you may contact Music Museum at 721-6726 and reserve tickets through Gabi Na Naman Productions’ Leah at 0917-878-9803 using the link: bit.ly/AiaBarbieKitchie.