“People like faces and if they like my face, they’d want to know what I do which is a good thing. But also, another thing is that people forget that I’m a singer. I don’t want people to look at me and say: ‘Oh, he’s the model’ instead of ‘Oh, he’s the singer’.” JASON DHAKAL is wise beyond his years. When he speaks, there’s a mixture of little uncertainty and somehow eloquence. The uncertainty part could be a default curse for being a 17 year old, but that’s not stopping him from making his name unforgettable through the music he makes.
This young musician and freelance model born in Oman, now based in Philippines, hungry for artistic growth without seeming desperate. His success is seemingly effortless and that’s a descriptor he’ll leave you with when you first meet him. Don’t believe us? Well, the beginning of his modeling career… kind of just happened. “I was out with my best friend and other friends, I think we were at a club and we just took photos and Carl Jan Cruz messaged one of my friends saying they want to take photos of us, so yeah,” he shrugs. “After that, I think that post was featured in Vogue Italia. And after that, people would message me or send me DM’s asking me to do stuff. If I like it, I would do it and if I don’t, then I’ll just leave it on read.”
“People like faces and if they like my face, they’d want to know what I do which is a good thing. But also another thing is that people forget that I’m a singer.”
He’s a person that’ll tell you how it is with no regrets. That could give you some misreadings on what he’s all about. “People think I’m unapproachable, I don’t know why,” he says with confusion in an unshakable laid back tone. “I think I just look like I have a resting bitch face or something. It’s the worst actually. It’s like every time I go out, people think I’m really rude or I’m not approachable, but I’m really nice once someone talks to me.” This isn’t the only thing about him that gets lost in translation. The possibility of his model side overshadowing his music side is another struggle.
It’s clear that he wants rhythmic melodies tightly knotted with his name. Like his modelling career, among other things, his path on being a musician was an accident. “It’s accidental as well, like my haircut. I got locked in my friend’s house. It was back in Oman and it was raining really bad. I just had to sleep over there and her dad had like a small studio,” he sets the scene. “It just had a mic and a guitar. He gave me this beat and told me to make a song. He just told me to make something. In 20 minutes, I made a new song and we recorded it,” he continues. “After that I got really hooked and that was a jazz song.” Promptly entitled Birth, it became the mark of his love and devotion for evolving his sound.
“I take inspiration from a lot of people but I try to make the sound different just so that I can differentiate myself from the rest.”
The evident influence of jazz, funk, electronic, and somehow 90s Filipino power pop, oozes from his tracks. His lyrics thread from the multitudes of sadness. He looks up to powerful songstress, but he doesn’t want to be the next them. There is a need for him to be his own new breed within his sound. “Erykah Badu, Amy Winehouse, I like them. I take inspiration from them lyrically. Musically, I don’t really. I’m not saying I don’t take inspiration for anything. I take inspiration from a lot of people, but I try to make the sound different just so that I can differentiate myself from the rest.”
Being young is usually about the hunger and demands of being someone that’s bigger than yourself. The demons you battle with is the uncertainty that clouds this age of realization. Jason belongs to the rest that are trying to figure themselves out, but what gives him an edge is his clarity on who he wants to be. “I do everything by myself. I really don’t care, which is really bad, like financially. I really don’t care, but I mean, I am getting a lot of people hitting me up with music and I really do like that,” he explains. “I have no goals, I just wanna do things that I want to do for now. Goal wise, I just wanna be able to live with music.”
“I want them to remember my music, ’cause it’s always just been that. I just want people to remember not as like the model but more of like as the musician.”
Wherever his music or his modeling takes him, Jason is truly an original that’s building his path by his own volition.”I like not forcing things or just like going wherever my thoughts take me or whatever my body takes me,” he nods. Starting big on a young age might seem like he had reached his peak, but his truly just getting started. “I’ve grown so much more here in five months than my growth in Oman, I think it’s because the Philippines is very fast paced. I just feel like I’m growing times two or like times three. But in the Uber [here], I’m growing so slow! B—ch, it’s so f—ng bad. I hate it so much. I wanna fix the f—g traffic, ” he narrates his growth and ends it with a deadpan punchline.
As the new year dawns on everyone, he’ll be out there on a mission of redefinition. “When they hear Jason or Jason Dhakal, I just want them to hear my music. I want them to remember my music, ’cause it’s always just been that. I just want people to remember not as like the model but more of like as the musician.” When he does finally reach the pinnacle of his career, we would know his name either way as an icon on the rise.
Written and produced by: Rogin Losa
Photographer: Erwin Canlas
HMUA: Apple Fara-on
Art direction: Renz Mart Reyes