Abu Dhabi: Filipino singer on his love for Hindi songs

Singer Ian Cris Tocle, who was at Comic Con in Abu Dhabi, has been a participant in Indian reality show Zee TV's Asia's Singing Superstar

By Karishma Nandkeolyar

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Published: Wed 14 Feb 2024, 12:58 AM

Last updated: Wed 14 Feb 2024, 12:14 PM

Twenty-year-old Filipino Ian Cris Tocle spent the past weekend doing two things he loves: cosplaying and making music. The Dubai-based expat took to the stage at the Middle East Film and Comic Con and played songs from a number of anime and games for an audience that sat enthralled. Then Tocle, who was dressed as the villain 'Pain' from the popular anime Naruto, did something unusual. He began to perform a Hindi number, Balam Pichkari, sending the audience into a frenzy.

The musician has always been a fan of multi-genre music and thus he discovered Bollywood. Tum hi ho had gone viral on YouTube in those days (I was very young then) and that’s where I heard the song.”

Pretty soon he was doing more than just humming along.

“When I was about 10-11 years old, I entered a singing competition called Zee TV's Asia's Singing Superstar with my friend Yasmina Alidodova. We sang Bollywood classics like ‘Tum Hi Ho’ from Aashiqui 2, ‘Batameez Dil’, ‘Do Lafzon Ki Hain’, and more. It was an incredible experience, especially when we had the opportunity to perform for legends like Shankar Mahadevan and Shafqat Ali, who were the judges of the show,” he said.

Tocle still doesn’t understand Hindi too well, but when it comes to enunciating the words, he’s got that down pat. He says he loves Bollywood tracks for many reasons. “Firstly, I enjoy exploring music from different cultures and how they use instruments and singing styles. Secondly, my Indian friends introduced me to Bollywood music, which got me interested,” he explains.

Besides this, his gaming experiences have made him appreciate Indian instruments even more. “Recent experiences such as playing games like Genshin Impact, where they incorporate ethnic instruments like bansuri (flute), tabla, and sitar to represent different regions have deepened my appreciation for Bollywood music. As a musician, these diverse influences have made me value Bollywood and Indian music even more,” he says.

Tocle loves sound and the recent graduate is making most of his current time experimenting with it. He sings and plays the violin, guitar, piano, and a little bit of drums. Currently, he has a major project in the pipeline. “I am working an original debut album where I feature songs that combine orchestral and EDM elements as well as ethnic instruments,” he explains.

The date of his album’s release is yet to be finalised, but in the meantime, Tocle is enjoying doing what he loves most: making music on his own terms.


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