Tracy Cruz is a star in the making. Born in Quezon City on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, Tracy’s alluring voice is hard to compare to anyone. Well not just ANYBODY, but she has been described as a mix of Jill Scott and Sarah Vaughan. Her songs aren’t just empty pop songs like the majority of artists today; she envokes unfettered freedom and self expression as she has discovered memorable ways to infuse rich meaning in her songs. I catch up with Tracy to talk about her Sophomore album, her background, and more. Read below for the full interview…
First of all I have to assume you are still kind of glowing from releasing your second album ‘Universoul Symphony’. Could you tell us a bit about the creative process behind this?
Tracy: After the release of my debut album “Feel’osophy”, my husband/producer Allen Ross and I were extremely inspired to reinvent our sound. Since “Feel’osophy” had a very laid back Neo-soul sound, we wanted the sophomore album to be more upbeat and experimental. We wanted to offer a completely brand new sound to our listeners so we didn’t put any limits towards our creativity. We experimented with eclectic sounds, unconventional song structure and unique vocal styles. We definitely stepped outside of the box when we created “Universoul Symphony”.
You are openly asking for remixes to be apart of a future project. How did this idea come about and what kind of sounds are you looking for?
Tracy: Since “Universoul Symphony” is a universal musical celebration, we wanted to invite other music producers and DJs to be involved with the project and give them the opportunity to create their own musical interpretation of the songs. We are open to all styles of music-Reggae, House, Hip-Hop, Acoustic, Electronic, etc.
Your first album was Feel’osophy. At this point in your career, where is this second album coming for you in your evolution as an artist?
Tracy: During the creation of “Universoul Symphony” I became more adventurous. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and push myself as a singer and songwriter. I didn’t want to put myself in a box. I wanted to completely reinvent my sound so I consistently studied various songwriting and vocal styles. I didn’t want to produce another album that sounded exactly like my previous release. Instead I wanted to give my audience a brand new side of me-the stronger, wiser, braver Tracy.
You sing a lot about love and passion. I always feel R&B singers nowadays, who sing about love, yet who never are seen publicly in relationships are just singing hollow lyrics. Do you feel you draw real emotion through your own relationships and/or marriage?
Tracy: When I write songs about love and passion, I always draw real emotion through my own relationships and marriage. I get inspiration through my relationship with God, my husband, my children, etc. My mission is to always create and share “honest” music. It’s much easier for me to write about experiences or situations I’ve gone through myself.
Being born on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, you state your songwriting is influenced by the ballads of the Philippines. For someone who isn’t familiar with the culture, what kind of style does this bring to your music overall?
Tracy: My songwriting is heavily influenced by OPM (Original Pilipino Music). OPM consists of heartfelt lyrics and expressive singing. I always incorporate those elements when I sing or write ballads because I want my listeners to be emotionally affected. I want my songs to touch someone’s heart and life so deeply that they cry tears of joy or tears of relief. Some of the most famous OPM artists include Gary Valenciano, Sharon Cuneta, Regine Velasquez and Martin Nievera. If you get a chance, please check out my favorite OPM song “Nandito Ako” (Lea Salonga’s rendition). It is an incredibly beautiful song and is one of the most popular OPM songs.
Many artists that you have worked with have openly admitted that they would like to remain in the underground as they feel it would compromise the message in their music. As an independent artist yourself, and based on your views, how do you feel regarding this subject?
Tracy: I do believe that when artists sign to a major label, the message in their music gets compromised because the primary goal is to make money by selling millions of records. Touching the lives of people through music become secondary. When are you are an independent artist, you have complete creative control. No one is telling you how you should look, sound or act. Although, I would absolutely love to land a major label distribution deal-that way I can have complete creative control and have my music in record stores across the United States and around the world.
You have had some great guidance throughout your career, working with people like Greg Farbizio who has been a music teacher for all most 30 years. How important is it as a singer, to surround yourself with mentors and vocal coaches?
Tracy: I strongly believe that it is crucial to surround yourself with mentors and vocal coaches because not only do they provide you with great encouragement, they also help you reach your full potential by assisting you with learning proper vocal, performance, or songwriting technique. They know exactly what you need to work on as a singer. Sometimes it’s not easy to figure out what your weaknesses are because you get so use to hearing your own voice that you overlook your mistakes. It’s always good to have a mentor or vocal coach to notice the simple glitches in your voice because they can help you become a more polished vocalist.
Switching gears a bit, when you find time to unwind do you enjoy any Asian movies? Got any favorites to share with us?
Tracy: Yes, I use to take Tae Kwon Do when I was younger, so I really enjoy movies about martial artists such as Bruce Lee. My favorites are “Enter the Dragon” and “Fists of Fury”.
You’ve worked with a lot of great artists over the years! Who is on your ‘dream-list’ of people you’d like to work with in the future?
Tracy: I would absolutely love to work with Jill Scott, Ledisi, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, DJ Jazzy Jeff or Dianne Warren.
Lastly, we know you’re out promoting your new album; do you have any tour dates or special projects in the works you could share with us?
Tracy: The Universoul Symphony remix album should be released before the end of this year. Also, we are planning on having an album celebration and, hopefully tour around the United States and overseas to promote the new album.
Want to keep tabs on Tracy’s music? Check out her cookie crumb trail below: