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K-Pop Crossover: Asia’s Pop Sweetheart Julie Anne San Jose Says There Is A Lot Of Hallyu Love In The Philippines [EXCLUSIVE]

By Tony Sokol | March 09, 2016 09:47 AM EST


Filipino singer, songwriter and actress Julie Anne San Jose has been called Asia's Pop Sweetheart. She made her first appearance on national television at the age of three when she finished runner-up in the Little Miss Philippines competition. San Jose also appeared in the longest-running television show in the Philippines, Eat Bulaga, competed in Popstar Kids and was part of the band Sugarpop. But it was solo uStream and YouTube sessions that broke the singer. San Jose's cover of Nicki Minaj's Super Bass has pulled in 17,981,889 views so far. She plays a variety of musical instruments, guitar and piano, her favorites, drums, flute and ukelele.

Julie Anne is fresh from the release of a funked up remix of her song "Tidal Wave," which comes off her third release, the EP "Forever." The song features Singaporean heartthrob R&B/Hip-Hop artist Richard Jansen. She is getting ready for a U.S. tour this year.

Julie Anne San Jose sat down to talk exclusively about the popularity of K-pop in the Philippines.

"K-pop is very popular in the Philippines," the singer said.

"K-pop has a huge following here in our country, and Filipinos are very fond of it. Top K-pop stars even have concerts here."

San Jose has been working regularly in show business since she was 12. A recent trip to Korea showed her that hard and steady work is a Hallyu hallmark.

"I went to Korea for the One Asia Seoul Mega Concert in South Korea just last year and I witnessed how professional everyone was," San Jose said.

"They seem to be very nice and focused with their work. I think the artists' passion for their craft is similar.

"I've seen and met members of some famous K-pop groups like Lee Jong- Hyun of CN Blue and the members of GOT7. Like I said, they were very accommodating and focused with their work. I was very lucky to be part of that event and it was a great opportunity to share my own music with a different crowd and they loved what they heard. It's great that they were really participative and they appreciated what the Filipino performers did."

The singer said she keeps as much of an ear on what's going on as her neighbors.

"I follow some K-pop artists, and they have a really catchy sound," the singer said.

"It's fun listening to them, even if I don't understand the lyrics. I like the songs of EXO, CN Blue, 2NE1 and Girls Generation."

"I'd love to collaborate with CNBlue and 2nE1 and with any of my favorite artists, of course," she added.

San Jose explained that the appeal of K-pop goes beyond the songs.

"I like most of the K-pop music videos that I watch because they are very high-tech and current and catchy," San Jose said.

"The outfits are also very high-fashion and stylish."

San Jose noted that she shares a pop sensibility with K-pop artist.

"My songs and Korean songs belong to the same genre," the artist explained.

"My songs are mostly pop and K-pop songs are also mostly pop, so hopefully, people from different nationalities can enjoy them as well. I wouldn't say it's exactly the same, but I see some similarities with the ballads and the catchy upbeat songs," she said.

"It's nothing specific, but it doesn't stop me from really appreciating their music. I try not to focus on one genre or style of music, I prefer to write and record a variety of songs. Right now, I'm doing more pop, ballads and R&B."

She also noted that K-pop's slick recording makes it stand apart from other genres.

"I like the fact that K-pop productions have great quality in terms of the look and sound," San Jose said.

"The performances are look really good and you can see that there's been a lot of training involved."

Asia's Pop Sweetheart sings in both English and Tagalog. She doesn't find much difference in the vocal attacks she brings to either language

"I just make sure to hit the exact notes and sing my heart out to everyone, every time," she said.

She admitted that she hadn't thought about singing in Korean.

"There are no plans for that right now, but I think it's a great idea," San Jose said.

"It would be wonderful not only to sing Korean songs, but also to learn their culture and language.

Julie Anne isn't all about cover songs. Her albums are full of original material. She explained that her original songs come from a personal place.

"Song writing for me is pretty much writing about my experiences and observations and life in general," Julie Anne said.

"Sometimes writing a song comes really easy for me, it depends on my mood and how I'm feeling. I put my heart into every song that I write, I think of a certain incident, or something that stayed with me, and that gives me the inspiration to write songs."

San Jose found room to spread out by herself after leaving the groups she grew up performing in.

"Going solo gave me huge opportunities to grow as an artist," she said.

"I discovered my other potentials that shaped me to be better at my craft, I am also able to do a lot more things, like I can experiment with my music, and it challenged me to improve and be open to changes.

"As you grow older and you experience more things whether they be in one's personal life or in one's career or in things that you see in your environment or in other people, they become inspiration for the different songs that you write."

The songwriter cited one example.

"Like with one of my singles that I released last year 'Kung Maibabalik Ko Lang,' which means 'if I can turn back [the time],'" she began.

"I tackled the feelings of regret, when you fall in love with someone, then you fall out of love, but eventually you wish you never let that person go. I wasn't able to go that deep in my previous songs and i liked that I was given the freedom to be able to do that. I've never experienced those kinds of things personally so it was a challenge for me to be able to evoke that kind of emotion in that song but I think I did a pretty good job."

The singer's full name is Julie Anne Peñaflorida San Jose. Many of her fans know her by the acronym JAPS.

"JAPS started when I was in high school," San Jose said.

"One of my classmates came up with it, because obviously my name's a bit long. Since then, JAPS became my nickname."

The singer earned the distinction "Asia's Pop Sweetheart" when her album "Julie Anne San Jose" reached number 1 on iTunes hours after its release back in 2013.

"The album also entered the charts in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan," she explained.

"It peaked at number 1 on the daily and weekly charts of a local music channel in the Philippines. That was how that moniker started. To be honest, I don't let that title get to my head, although it is an honor to be called Asia's Pop Sweetheart, ultimately, I just want to inspire and touch people through my music."

Filipino born Hollywood witch Marie Bargas predicts good things for Julie Anne San Jose, though she doesn't quite believe the singer will have to weather a perfect storm.

Watch Julie Anne San Jose's "Tidal Wave" RIGHT HERE.

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