Music producer and songwriter Rox Santos is celebrating his tenth year in the industry by working his magic on new material from some of Star Music’s most high-profile artists.
His name appears in the credits of Kim Chiu’s newest album Chinita Princess – Touch Of Your Love. He also had a hand in new releases from the rock band Agsunta, Migz Haleco, Yohan Hwang, and the Elisse Joson and McCoy de Leon tandem.
Rox also wrote a song for the one and only Regine Velasquez called “Taking Flight,” which is on R3.0, her recently released 30th anniversary album. Another one of Rox’s songs will be on Jaya’s next album (her first for Star Music), which will be out in the first quarter of 2018.
He wrote several minor radio hits for Angeline Quinto and Liezel Garcia, but Rox considers writing for Michael Pangilinan and Vice Ganda his biggest break as a songwriter to date. His compositions for Michael (“Hanggang Ngayon,” which he co-wrote with songwriter Cynthia Roque) and Vice (“Boom Panes,” “Karakaraka,” “Push Mo Yan Teh” and “Wag Kang Pabebe”) were all massive hits. That said, he’s also quite proud of a song he wrote for Angeline Quinto titled, “Sana Ngayon Lang Ang Kahapon.” It was used as the main theme of the Asianovela Fierce Wife, becoming a hit in the process.
Rox is credited with helping to launch Daniel Padilla’s singing career in 2012, when he produced Daniel’s first eponymous album. That album, bannered by the lead single “Hinahanap-hanap Kita” (a cover of the 1997 Rivermaya hit), was certified Gold in just three days, and Platinum four days later. Daniel was so pleased with the results of their work that he practically made Rox a permanent member of his team. Rox has produced all of Daniel’s albums and singles to date.
Because Rox has a good track record when it comes to helping new artists hit the top of the charts, Star Music assigns most of the label’s newbies to him. Label execs hope he can do for the new artists of today what he did for Daniel five years ago. That’s why, when Pinoy Big Brother Lucky 7 runner-up Kisses Delavin signed to Star Music a few months ago, Rox was brought on board to produce her debut album.
Rox was happy to accept the assignment. He had watched Kisses on Pinoy Big Brother Lucky 7, and he felt a connection to her. There was an episode in which Kisses was shown crying over a boy she liked, and Rox’s composition “Hanggang Kailan” (which he wrote with songwriter Cynthia Roque for Michael Pangilinan) was used as the background music for that particular scene.
“Nalungkot ako nung napanood ko yung episode na yun. Sobra akong affected sa nangyari kay Kisses. Alam mo yung pakiramdam ng magulang, yung kapag nakita mo na nasasaktan yung anak mo, masasaktan ka na rin? Ganun ako noon. Yung mga tao sa Star Music office, affected din. Inulit-ulit nila sa iWanTV yung episode na yun. Saka personally, iba yung feeling na ginamit nila yung kanta ko sa eksenang umiiyak si Kisses,” Rox explains.
The song he wrote for Michael Pangilinan was actually used many times throughout the season, particularly during scenes featuring Kisses and her former onscreen partner and fellow ex-housemate Marco Gallo. It was already a certified radio hit, but the exposure it got on the show made it even more popular, which Rox is grateful for to this day.
“Yung ‘Hanggang Kailan’ din ang ginamit nung pinag-lie detector test sila. Nung pinabalik si Marco sa loob ng Bahay ni Kuya after niya ma-evict para makapagusap sila ni Kisses, yun pa rin ang naging background music nila. Nakakatuwa, in fairness. Ang laking tulong ng Pinoy Big Brother kasi lumaki lalo yung kanta dahil na-associate siya kina Kisses at Marco.”
When Rox started working with Kisses on her debut album, he was happy to find that she was as nice as he hoped she would be. In fact, Rox describes heras very easy to work with, noting that her demeanor made their studio sessions go smoothly.
“OK siya,” Rox enthuses. “Sobrang caring, loving at sweet si Kisses. Kung ano yung nakita ko at ng buong bayan sa kanya nung nasa loob pa siya ng Bahay ni Kuya, yun din yung ugali na pinakita niya sa akin habang busy kami sa paggawa ng album niya. In other words, natural lang sa kanya yung maging ganun. Sobrang bait niyang bata. Personally, gusto ko yung napaka-grateful and thankful niya sa lahat ng blessings na natatanggap niya.”
As he did with Daniel all those years ago, Rox poured everything he had into making sure that Kisses’ first album would be composed of songs that suited her. Rox even had a hand in writing some of the tracks. The hard work he put in played a big part in the album’s success.
Kisses’ debut album turned Gold and then Platinum even before its official release, based on the strength of pre-orders alone. Its carrier single, the bouncy, radio-ready “‘Di Ko Lang Masabi” (written by two-time Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs songwriting competition finalist Hazel Faith dela Cruz and produced by Rox), dominated the MOR 101.9 Pinoy Biga10 countdown for several weeks.
According to Rox, music is really his calling. He can’t imagine doing anything else with his life. Soon after Rox graduated from college (he went to Bicol University and took up BS Food Technology), he found work in a nutrition lab. At the time, he had no idea how to pursue a career in music, so he gave a proper job a shot. But the call of music proved to be too strong for him, so he resigned. Luckily, he met Jonathan Manalo soon after that. Jonathan encouraged him to apply for an open position in Star Music, and the rest is history.
Rox says he owes Jonathan and Star Music executives Malou Santos and Roxy Liquigan a lot.
“Marami akong natutunan sa kanila. Bukod sa kailangan galingan ko yung trabaho ko, natutunan ko na dapat maging niceka. Importante yung marunong kang makisama para hindi ka ayawan ng tao. Tinuro din nila sa akin na dapat approachable ka lagi, at wag maging ma-ere or mayabang.”
Rox is perfectly happy with his career. After a decade in the music business, he has more than paid his dues and is in the enviable position of being able to decide what he wants to do next. At the moment, he has no concrete plans yet, but he does know that he wants to be able to keep helping and inspiring new artists who dream of having successful careers in music.
“Gusto ko lang maging successful at well-known na music producer, yung tipong makapagsulat ako ng mga kantang magiging iconic talaga,parapwede akong maging instrument to inspire others. Honestly, ang gusto ko lang naman ay maka-create at makatulong sa mga artists, lalo na sa mga baguhan, and siyempre gusto ko makapag-inspire ako ng maraming tao,” he says.