More than a decade of building your very own musical kingdom from the ground up is no easy feat. For crwn — the producer and DJ whose real name is King Puentespina – it’s been a long journey that has naturally taken its course. Over the years, it has blessed him with the necessary magic he has needed – and more – in order to become the artist he has always wanted to be.

Like a true king, crwn seeks to spread love and connect with the people around him, building up unshakable friendships and communities bound by collaboration and camaraderie, all under the royal banner of his music. Both locally and internationally, he has gone on to spread his influence with great success, effortlessly entrancing listeners to dance, move, and vibe to his musical wizardry.

crwn seance

Courtesy of NYOU Consultancy. Photographed by Renzo Navarro.

This year, a long-awaited milestone in the chronicles of crwn is soon to be attained as Puentespina is destined to finally release his debut album Séance. A momentous effort 11 years in the making, the 12-track record is a “world of dance” where the king himself and many of his musical allies, both old and new, have converged together to discover newfound magic.

Ahead of its highly anticipated release this May 11, crwn gave Billboard Philippines an inside look into the world of Séance, discussing how the album came to be, how Filipino folklore and his love for the horror genre played a major role, and more.

Billboard Philippines: You’ve been making and releasing music as crwn for 11 years already. What inspired the decision to finally release your debut album now?

Crwn: Honestly, I’ve been trying to summon this album since I started producing but I realized I didn’t have the right tools, the right techniques/style, and most especially the story I wanted to tell. It was building in me that whole time. I also think a lot of it was the pressure I gave myself leading up to Séance. I wanted to make a classic record and I knew that it wouldn’t hold up as one if were just purely an instrumental album like my beat tape Orchid. Those projects needed to happen in order to finish Séance. I also needed to meet the artists in the album for me to get here. I’d like to think the album happened the way it was supposed to.

In this album, Séance, all of the tracks have collaborators on them. As a producer, how do you personally define your sound given that each of your tracks feature a different collaborator? How do you meld their distinctive styles together to create a cohesive sound?

For the album, I think it was easier to collaborate with the artists because all of the tracks were already picked out for each artist all they had to do was put their magic in them. I wanted to build this world of dance for them to write on, and all the sessions and demos were done just like that. I also just told them I wanted to make a dance record and they got the assignment.

crwn seance

Courtesy of NYOU Consultancy. Photographed by Renzo Navarro.

Throughout your discography over the years, you’ve also collaborated with a lot of artists on your releases. Some of them even make a return on Séance such as Jess Connelly, August Wahh, and Curtismith. In your own words, how would you describe the difference between the collaborations on Séance and your previous ones?

It’s definitely more upbeat, and it’s all dance records. Everyone was on board from the jump and put themselves in the world. Since all the artists (including me) on Séance were already seasoned and knew their sound and their vibe, each song just made itself so easily. It was honestly crazy how it happened. Hopefully for the next project, I can gather more artists like them and make even more dance tracks. It’s just too fun not to do again.

Let us in a bit on the magic of how Séance came to be. Aside from your collaborators who perform on the tracks, who did you work with behind the scenes in putting the album together?

It took a village. Our team in Pool Records was relentless in making this album happen. Fun fact, Pool started because of a conversation over lunch about making and releasing the first crwn album after releasing Orchid. My wife, Ada, making sure that it succeeded no matter what, our genius creative director Mike Parker handling the visuals and imagery on top of managing the craziness behind the scenes, Alex Coloquio for keeping us in check and guiding us throughout, and Priscilla Salvacion who would literally glue our ideas and make it happen one way or the other.

Playground Idea House, my best friends, namely Anica Feliciano (Olympia) who is also on the album and my first collaborator, and Ram Alonzo (bandmate in SOS), helped tremendously in executing my vision. Plus, JP Del Mundo (60NICE Sound Studios) for lending his wizard ears and making the album sound sonically magical and artists like Clara Cayosa and Kay Aranzano (darlingkink), were key in building and imagining the world of Séance.

crwn seance

Courtesy of NYOU Consultancy. Photographed by Renzo Navarro.

In promoting the tracks from the album and their respective collaborators, you’re using tarot imagery and symbolism. What inspired this creative decision?

I’m a big fan of horror movies, TV shows, books, and art. All things horror. I wanted Séance to be a reflection of my love for that. I grew up fantasizing that I could host like Rod Serling from Twilight Zone, or write as good as Stephen King, or make people suffer in the theater like Ari Aster, the list goes on. Ideally, I wanted to make a horror house and album (I still do) and perform the album and scare the sh*t out of people while dancing. But that’s probably something for a Halloween show.

The middleground was to summon love with music and make it come to life. I researched a lot about Filipino folklore, pagan rituals, cults and séances done back in the day. That’s sort of why I chose my photo of a balete tree as my album art. It signifies the cultural backbone of our local beliefs and contains so much history. I even went to Baler to take photographs of one of the oldest balete trees in the country (The Millenium Tree) as I wanted to album art to sort of be a representation of the longevity and story around balete trees. I can go on and on about balete trees but that’s for another conversation.

Ultimately, you ended up with the 12 songs on the album. Walk us through the choosing and ordering the tracks. Why was it those songs specifically that made the cut?

I treated it like a writing a book or telling a story or even doing a classic DJ set, it settles you in the world, ramps up, climaxes, and goes down and resolves itself in the end. I have about 200 drafts and demos in my drive since 2018 and these were just the songs that fit perfectly with each artist I featured.

crwn seance

Courtesy of NYOU Consultancy. Photographed by Renzo Navarro.

Releasing your debut album, without a doubt, is a momentous point in your career as a musician and as a producer that has been a long-time coming. If there was one piece of advice you would give to the younger crwn who was just starting out more than a decade ago, what would it be?

Dear Past King, you’re an artist, and you already know your purpose, just keep going because we’ll get there eventually. Also, on October 14, 2018, the winning combination for the biggest draw is 40-50-37-25-01-45. That’s PHP 1.18 billion pesos. Just saying.

When listening to Séance, what sort of experience do you hope your listeners take away from it?

I wrote a short preface for the album as an anchor to the whole thing. That short intro or note to myself and the listener still guides me to this day.

I wrote, “This is a gathering of souls. A circle of spirits made of mist, light, and dance. These souls sing of unrequited love, the struggle of find love and of course, being at the center of love itself. My only wish is for you to move with the music, and celebrate the spirits that want to dance with
us.” I want them to dance and retreat into this world we made even just for a while. I still believe that music should be something of a healing place and dance music gets rid of all those demons and bad energy. We’re summoning love in this album.

Lastly, you’re holding an intimate launch party for the album this May 11. What can those who will be in attendance expect?

We’re going big and we’re going hard. Most of the artists on the album will be performing too. So I’ll see you all there! If not, keep supporting not just me but all the local artists you love. Don’t forget to listen and dance.

Séance, the debut album by crwn, is set to be fully unveiled this May 11. Listen to the first offering from the album, entitled “Good Enough” featuring Jason Dhakal, below: