There is no better feeling than finally coming home. Armed with their unique, heartfelt brand of music, Filipino-American singer-songwriters Jesse Barrera and Albert Posis know this better than anyone.

Utilizing dashes of modern R&B mixed in with bright hints of pop, the two, often-collaborating musical mavens have accumulated millions upon millions of streams and listeners over the years with their kilig-infused tracks, individually and as a duo.

The two may have grown up in the States but their music exudes and radiates many qualities stitched into the very fabric of what it means to be Filipino. This includes family, friendship, comfort, care, and, of course, love, among others. Ultimately, beyond the success, international virality, and widespread acclaim, these are what the two veteran musicians hold close to their hearts the most.

For the two, music has always been a way of connecting: with each other, with fellow Filipino-American musicians, and with countless people across the globe, especially in the Philippines. This May, they’ll be taking that connection up a notch as they finally head to the motherland with a one-night only concert in Manila at The Podium Hall in Mandaluyong City this coming May 25.

Ahead of their homecoming show, Billboard Philippines sat down with the Barrera and Posis to talk about life, the Filipino music they listened to growing up, the Filipino artists they absolutely want to shoot their shot and collaborate with, and more.

Billboard Philippines: Hi Jesse and Albert! Thank you for taking the time to meet with us! How are you two lately?

Jesse Barrera: I’m good! I’m chillin’. I’m busy being a dad. I just put out a new EP called Scary As Hell But I Love The Thrill on March 22nd. It’s been cruisin’, [the] response has been really great. But we’re so excited to be out in the Philippines next month. We’re working on the show right now. Feeling all the butterflies and all the excitement. And yeah, just ready to be out there. Life is good! Life is good!

Albert Posis: Life is good like Jesse said! We’re just, you know, just doing all the things, getting ready for tour, getting read to go out to Asia, the Philippines, you know what I mean. We’re just getting ready and it’s so exciting to think that we’re gonna be in the Philippines soon in a month.

Courtesy of @albertposis, photographed by @_j9photography

Growing up in the US as Filipino-Americans, how has Filipino music or Filipino culture in general influenced or shaped who you are as musicians over the years? Were there any Filipino artists that you remember listening to growing up?

Albert Posis: Yeah! A bit. Not too crazy but like growing up, I just kinda listened to the music my parents were listening to, whatever they put on. And, occasionally, they’d put on some Tagalog, OPM music, and I think that’s kinda what really started the whole hopeless romantic side of me ‘cause, all this music, it’s all love songs.

Jesse Barrera: Romance!

Albert Posis: You could really feel all the kilig vibes, you could feel all the emotions in Tagalog songs. I think that’s one of the reasons why I love music today is ‘cause you can really express yourself emotionally through music. That’s kinda what we do today in our own way. Also, we don’t speak Tagalog, I don’t speak Tagalog but I love listening to Tagalog songs. I think one of the artists I really loved listening to growing up was Jay R. I love R&B and Jay R was, kind of like, the R&B guy of everything. So, I kind of loved listening to him when I was young and yeah, he was one of ‘em!

Jesse Barrera: I didn’t really grow up listening to like a ton of Filipino artists but like I do remember Kiana Valenciano, we had a session maybe a year ago or maybe a year-and-a-half ago and she was just playing me countless videos of her dad.

Albert Posis: Yeah! [chuckles]

Jesse Barrera:
And I’ve heard of Gary [Valenciano] bro! I’ve definitely heard the name but when she educated me on who this dude was,

Albert Posis: He’s the G.O.A.T bro!

Jesse Barrera: I was like, “This is the coolest dude I’ve ever seen in my life bro!” like, I wish I was alive during that time, just be at the concert, like… I’d be like, “That’s my guy bro!” And what’s cool is he’s expressed that he’s a fan of our music and stuff, so yeah. I definitely look up to that guy nowadays. For sure!

Well let me tell you, if you get to catch him at one of his shows today, he’s still that good!

Jesse Barrera: I’m trying to personally invite him to come and sing for us at our show! I’m gonna shoot my shot!

Albert Posis: Woohhh!

Jesse Barrera: Yeah, ‘cause he told me he really loves my song “Sway” and so, I’m gonna shoot my shot in the DM’s. I’m gonna ask Kiana to put in a good for me and be like, “Yo, do you wanna sing the second verse or the chorus?”

Albert Posis: Come through!

Jesse Barrera: He’ll probably say, “no”. He’ll probably say, “no”.

It’s worth the shot! Go for it!

Jesse Barrera: Yeah! It’s worth the shot!

That being said, with millions of monthly listeners to your names, your songs have undoubtedly touched and resonated with so many people already. For you two, personally, what do you hope your listeners, especially here in the Philippines, take away from your music?

Jesse Barrera: I just want people to listen to our music and I want them to feel safe, to feel happy. I want our music to feel like a big hug, you know? ‘Cause there’s just so much dark stuff going on, you know what I’m saying? Like, I feel like we’re onto World War III right now and I feel like music and the arts, entertainment in general, has just been an escape for people to just, like, “Okay, all this crazy stuff is going on but now I can just, like, put my headphones on and kind of get in the zone and kind of get away from, like, everything that’s bothering me.

I feel like our music is really “feel-good”, you know what I’m saying? And so, I just want our fans to just feel good [chuckles] when they listen to our stuff and be an escape and feel warm and fuzzy and all the good things. That’s what I want my fans to feel for sure.

Albert Posis: Yeah, all of that, for sure! I want them to feel a sense of light in whatever darkness there may be in their lives, in the world. At the same time, I feel like our music is kind of like the bridge on how we connect with people, with our fans, ‘cause a lot of the music we write is a reflection of our own lives and what we go through and a lot of people… it’s cool seeing fans comment that they might be going through the same thing or they might be, you know, feeling the same way. It’s just a way of connecting at the end of the day.

We hope that our music makes people happy but, at the same time, it makes it feel like a family, you know? This music that we make, it feels like we when we see everyone in person, whenever we perform. It’s been family since the beginning, it’s definitely our way of connecting to the world. 

Courtesy of @albertposis.

You two are quite known for frequently collaborating with one another, not just on tour but, most especially, also on your songs such as “Strawberry Soju”, “Maybe We Could Be A Thing”, and “Everyday Feels Like Sunday”. In relation to this, as Filipino artists yourselves, who are the artists in the Philippines you want to collaborate with and why?

Jesse Barrera: Sunkissed Lola dude!

Albert Posis: Yeah!

Jesse Barrera: They’re that band that I just discovered on TikTok. I cannot get enough of them! They just keep coming up on my For You page of them playing these shows where the fans are doing the choreo [waves arm up and down] with their iPhone lights. I’m like, “Oh my gosh! We need to do that!” And I did a little short cover of one of their songs like, “Can I be in your band?” But I’m such a super fan of them! Just, like, discovering them on TikTok…

Moi’s [Moira Dela Torre] insane. Her voice is like, transcending time and space right now so, she’s up there! 

Albert Posis: She is up there!

I would love to… I mean, I told you I grew up listening to Jay R. You know, it’d be kind of cool to like to do a song! The R&B boys, you know what I mean! I also really love Zack Tabudlo. He’s a huge fave of mine right now. I love what he’s doing. I love the music that he’s making. I love his voice! For one, I like his tone. I think it’s great and I feel like it’d be cool to do a song with him.

Again, shoot your shots!

Jesse Barrera: Shoot your shots! [laughs] 

Albert Posis: Ey! Let’s work! Let’s work! [laughs]

Jesse Barrera: Let’s work! 

You two are heading to Manila this May as part of your Hold On Tight Tour. For you two, what personal meaning or significance does this homecoming of a concert hold? What are you most excited for? What can your fans here in the Philippines expect from the show?

Albert Posis: Man, I think you can just expect for the show, first of all, we definitely bring the energy! So, if you’re coming, you can definitely expect a good time, we’re gonna party out there, we also get pretty kilig with our slow songs. 

Jesse Barrera: We get emotional and kilig for sure!

Albert Posis: We kinda hit all the different feelings that are possible. Even just above the show, we’re definitely just excited to just come home, come to the motherland, come to see our people, you know what I mean? And the food, see our family. We’ve got a limited time out there but I feel like it’s definitely gonna make us feel whole.

I’m definitely just excited for especially, to see the fam. My cousins and my aunties and uncles out there have been just so supportive of my journey in music for the longest time and, you know, for them to finally come out and see me in person, see me and Jesse in person, is just definitely gonna make me emotional. I’m excited for that!

Jesse Barrera: Definitely, for sure! Yeah, everything you said bro. Dead on! Excited to see the family out there, my mom’s gonna be out there and my wife, my son, and so, it’s gonna be a special time! Very excited!

Courtesy of @albertposis.

Individually and as a duo, what’s in store for the two of you for the rest of 2024?

Jesse Barrera: So, right now, for both of us, we have our vinyl, our live in Toronto vinyl that’s about to drop very soon as a duo. So, we’re excited about that and I just dropped my EP Scary As Hell But I Love The Thrill on March 22nd. But I’m putting out a few acoustic versions of the record with some of my favorite artists as features and the first single is gonna be “Supersonic” featuring my good friend Mac Ayres who’s singing on that as a feature.

Albert Posis: Eyyyy!

Jesse Barrera: And a few other friends I can’t announce just yet but I’m excited about that. And then, we have a US tour in November. That’s gonna be the Hold On Tight Tour but it’s gonna be in the States and Canada so, we’re excited about all that.

Albert Posis: For me, currently, working on putting out a little EP. I’m currently in experiment mode now with just writing and making new songs and seeing where it takes me. But yeah, other than that Jesse already told all about us going on tour out in the States. Yeah, we’re just keeping it going!

Jesse Barrera and Albert Posis are set to take the kilig of Manila to the next level with their joint concert at The Podium Hall in Mandaluyong City this coming May 25.

In the meantime, get yourselves ready for the show by listening to the two’s 2023 live album Live In Toronto below: