UAE: Meet 20-year-old Filipino violinist bringing Bollywood songs to life

Both Filipino and Indian music genres excel at expressing love, says the young musician


Somya Mehta

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Photos by Muhammad Sajjad/KT
Photos by Muhammad Sajjad/KT

Published: Sun 19 May 2024, 6:08 PM

Last updated: Sun 19 May 2024, 6:11 PM

His musical journey began at the tender age of three, inspired by karaoke nights and live performances in his homeland. After moving to Dubai at the age of five to be with his parents, young Ian's passion for music continued to flourish. He enrolled in music lessons and showcased his talent in various competitions, mastering multiple instruments, including the piano, guitar, and violin.

Even at 20, Ian Cris Tocle pours his heart and soul into his musical melodies while balancing the demands of pursuing his higher education. Known online as TRIC, he's made his mark as a multifaceted musician and entertainer from the Philippines, currently making waves in Dubai. A singer, violinist, and music producer, Ian's performances have graced both local and international stages.

Reflecting on his early musical influences, Ian fondly recalls the vibrant karaoke nights with his grandparents in the Philippines. "Growing up with my grandparents, music was always a central part of our household. Every time there was a special occasion, we had karaoke nights at home, with food, drinks, and loud singing to rock songs, which is common for many Filipinos.”

His grandparents’ passion for music deeply inspired him, eventually leading him to pursue formal training in Dubai. “When I moved to Dubai, I started taking vocal, guitar, and piano lessons and began competing in contests, both local and international. However, it wasn't until later in my musical journey that I stumbled upon the violin," says Ian. "It was love at first sight.”

Discovering violin virtuosos like Lindsey Stirling, David Garrett, and Taylor Davis on YouTube ignited a newfound passion for the instrument and started his professional journey as a musician. “They are my violin idols. Seeing them play inspired me to pick up the violin,” says Ian.

Bollywood beats

Ian’s foray into Bollywood music was sparked during his participation in ZEE TV’s Asia Singing Superstarz, where he performed Bollywood songs. "We had the chance to perform Bollywood songs in front of legends like Shankar Mahadevan and Shafqat Ali. Being part of that experience exposed me to Indian instruments and musical styles, which greatly influenced and shaped my approach to music,” he recalls.

When asked if adapting Bollywood music to the violin posed challenges for the young musician, he added, "It's the way it is played and the scales. Indian music, whether Bollywood or classical, has different styles compared to Western music. For example, the melodies tend to have a lot of runs and ornamentation, which are characteristic features of Indian music, known as ragas.”

However, Ian embraced these challenges, using techniques like glides and runs to emulate traditional Indian bowed instruments such as the Sarangi and Dilruba. Despite his Filipino background, he effortlessly infuses his cultural heritage into his Bollywood performances.

“When I look at my Filipino cultural influences and my interpretations of Bollywood music, I find that it's the romanticism that bridges the gap between the two. Both Original Pilipino Music (OPM) and Bollywood excel at expressing love through their songs. So, whenever I perform, the sentiment and emotionality from my Filipino heritage naturally come through in my Bollywood music,” says Ian.

The elaborate melodies, improvisations, and visual spectacle of Bollywood performances resonate deeply with him as an artiste. "Bollywood is very colourful and vibrant, which makes it very enjoyable. That’s also a common theme in Filipino music," says Ian.

"Channelling these emotions of love and enjoyment into my performances, whether it’s playing an OPM song or a Bollywood song, has helped me connect with the audiences at an emotional level, regardless of the genre I’m playing.”

Among his favourite artists are Arijit Singh, Shankar Mahadevan, and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, whose captivating vocals and compositions continually inspire him. “Hopefully, I'll have the opportunity to collaborate with them on a song someday,” he adds.

Ian's ultimate goal is to use his music to bridge cultural gaps and foster understanding between diverse communities. “Through my performances and collaborations, I aim to inspire musicians and music enthusiasts to explore the rich and diverse musical traditions of different countries, expanding our musical horizons,” he adds. “Music can pave the way for cultural diversity, fostering a more harmonious and inclusive global community."

As Ian looks to the future, he’s excited about upcoming projects, including his debut album, which will blend epic synth elements with orchestral sounds. Through his art, Ian continues to build bridges, bringing people together across cultures and borders and invites those interested in collaborating with him to reach out via his social media platforms.


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