Filharmonic is an LA-based a cappella group of young Filipino-Americans. They previously competed in NBC’s televised musical competition, The Sing-Off, and have continued to build on their success as they have come out with albums, are going on tour in 2019, and so much more. In this article, I had the privilege of getting to interview their vocal bass, Jules Cruz.
What made you start singing? You were previously a train conductor, a sandwich artist, and a wildlife sanctuary attendant. Amongst the array of things, what made singing stick for you as a career?
“Well, I actually started singing in middle school and I got into choir by accident. I didn’t really mean to join it, but I ended up loving it. And then the reason I moved to California from Las Vegas was because I got recruited to join [a] choir out there at Mt. San Antonio Sollege. That’s where I met Nico and Joe and we started this group and we met the other guys. Yeah, it’s just been a really weird sight. I wasn’t planning on doing music professionally. It was just a hobby of mine and this kind of opportunity with the group kind of fell into my lap so I’ve been doing it ever since.”
If you hadn’t become a singer, what would you have been?
“When I had stopped doing music, I had convinced myself that I didn’t wanna spend so much time on music anymore if I didn’t see myself doing it as a career. I was doing environmental science in school and I really wanted to do more conservation work. I think it’s been really important to me to be involved in the scientific community so I was doing that and I still plan on doing that, eventually. Once I have more time away from music, I think that’s what I’m gonna do next.”
Has being Filipino impacted your work? What’s life like as a young Filipino-American artist?
“So when we started our group, we made a very conscious effort to make it about Filipino culture. We wanted to make sure that ‘Filipino’ was in our name [and] that’s why we named ourselves ‘Filharmonic.’ It was really important to us to not shy away from it. Sometimes, I feel like some Filipino artists want to find their way into the American mainstream so they kind of get away from being Filipino, but we thought, ‘No, we’re going to do what we can to express our culture while trying to reach that same success.’ So, I think that being in the Filipino community–it’s been really heartwarming to see people come to our shows and to just be invited to all these Filipino events and it’s definitely an honour to be able to say that we’re from the Filipino community.”
What’s a piece of advice you have for aspiring singers?
“I would say that treating singing like a sport is probably really important. Realizing that it’s your body and training it constantly every single day and practicing what you want it to do. And, being really organized about it, I think that’s really important, in terms of developing your voice and wanting to be a good singer. As far as wanting to do it full-time and hav[ing] some sort of success doing it, I would say [you should] surround yourself with people who inspire you and who are really positive and believe in you the same way you believe in yourself, and I think you’ll probably make it.”
What’s your personal favourite piece that you’ve done and why? (My personal favourite was “I’m Alright” from The Sing-Off)
I like, for sentimental reasons, Treasure [by Bruno Mars]. [It] was the first song we ever, ever did so it still feels kinda cute when we [sing] it because it reminds me of the very first time we ever performed on a TV show. I also really liked our cover of ‘One Love’ and ballads, we did ‘All of Me’ and that one’s really special for me to listen to.
Are there any future projects of Filharmonic’s that we should look out for?
Yeah! Right now we’re releasing videos every Friday [on our YouTube Channel called The Filharmonic]. We’re calling it ‘Filharmonic Fridays’ and just having YouTube videos for the summer. After [this summer], we’re gonna keep doing our thing and we can’t wait to come out [to Edmonton] and perform [in May 2019]. Hopefully we get more shows out there in Canada because this’ll actually be our first show in Canada! […] I’m really excited to go and hopefully that means we’ll get more shows around there.