Jose Villanueva III needs no further introduction other than this: you might know him as singer-songwriter and producer, Quest.
“I want to take you on a quest, an adventure, a journey,” he explains on his choice of moniker. “I hope my music takes you from darkness to light, brings clarity to your confusion, and carries you from sorrow to joy.”
Since he started making music full-time in 2007, and since coming out with his debut album Revolution in 2010, all the way to releasing his series of bop-worthy anthems (like Gilas Pilipinas’ theme song, Sige Lang, and the LSS-inducing Back To Love), and heartbreaking ballads (like his most-streamed single, Walang Hanggan, with well over 27 million plays on Spotify as of this writing), Quest has done just that.
Still true to his name, Quest promises to take us on yet another heart-wrenching and altogether inspiring journey through his upcoming album which he’s dubbed as a ‘battlefield’. His fourth LP upon its release, he considers this “the most ‘Quest’ album yet”.
Of life’s battlefields
In case you missed it, Quest quietly snuck two singles from his upcoming album into public streaming consciousness some months ago. They’re currently available on your favorite platform to listen to while you read through this article.
‘DYECMO’ (Don’t You Ever Count Me Out) and ‘Committed’ are his premier teasers lifted from his new 11-track wonder. Even without promoting the individual tunes, each song has garnered well over a couple thousand listens wherever it has been released.
Cryptic though the title might look, DYECMO reveals itself clearly in the song’s declarative opener: don’t you ever count me out! This anthem-worthy track masterfully layers danceable synth-rock melodies atop encouraging lyrics, all encompassing a definitive theme: bravery. Telling of a ‘war’ within himself and around him, Quest romanticizes becoming stronger, wiser, and tougher despite life’s challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, was a catalyst for the production of this song and many of his new songs with the same battle-ready theme. “I’ve been consciously fighting for many things throughout my life: my self, my sanity, my heart, my clarity, my calling, my love. It was only during the pandemic when I decided to really sing about it. Ano ba yung nama-magnify sa buhay ko ngayong pandemya? And it was my battles,” he openly shares, tastefully baring his vulnerability in the way only a seasoned artist can. “A lot of people, not just me, also lost a lot of hope during the pandemic. I hope that when they hear this song, they become inspired to stand up and rally again for what they believe in and for what they’re fighting for.” Within the song, he even references action stars and leading characters – his microdoses of inspiration – that have gone through hell and back with their heads held high. “Underdog for life / under God forever. (Don’t you ever count me out!) I am here to fight / ready for whatever. (Don’t you ever count me out!) I’m going to shine / whatever the weather. (Don’t you ever count me out!). Fall down seven, stand back up eight till we elevate!”
His other release, ‘Committed’, is a romantic ballad with punchy lyrics that read more like an intimate love letter than a publicly released song. Quest signs, seals, and delivers this message of committing himself forever (and ever, over and over, again and again) to someone whom he has yet to meet. The real, chasmic gap between his Here & Now and What Will Be makes this single all the more relatable especially for self-proclaimed NBSBs/NGSBs waiting patiently and faithfully for The One. “It’s me appropriating myself for how I want my future to be,” Quest explains. “People talk about finding Mr or Ms Right, but what about making sure that they’re Mr or Ms Ready? So I’m trying to be Mr Ready for when the right one comes. My loyalty – my commitment – begins now.”
And in true Quest fashion, each song mixes in simple but ultimately memorable Tagalog quips in the lyrics. “Ikaw lang, ikaw lang / wala nang iba.” “My roar is defiant in a jungle full of copycats / [na] susunod-sunod sa uso / nagpapa-abuso, galawang walang-puso.” We’re definitely looking forward to more of this bilingual goodness in the tracks to come.
Of threes and fours
Another not-to-be-missed masterpiece that is Quest’s gift as we take on the New Year is another tune from his upcoming album that’s sure to deliver a one-two (and three) punch from the title alone. “Paalam, Patawad, Salamat” was released on December the 28th, guaranteed to evoke a tear (or two or three) dedicated to both your Past Self 2022 and Future Self 2023.
“This song is about bravely coming to terms with your situation; of making amends with the past and moving forward,” Quest says, enjoining listeners that for 2023, they give themselves a gentle tap, admit that it’s time to face whatever is holding them back, and say “it’s time to move on. I’m sorry for what I’ve done. Thank you for the experience. Goodbye.” And what exactly is it that he wills his listeners to say goodbye to and leave behind coming into the new year? “Goodbye to your past self, to the people that no longer serve you, to situations that hold you back. Say goodbye to your fear of the past and face what’s waiting for you in the future,” he encourages. Ultimately, he hopes that this titular triad, which is the final teaser before the full launch of his much-awaited album come February 2023, becomes a cathartic way for people to start their year by making a conscious decision to move forward, say goodbye to yesterday, and say hello to the future with clear eyes.
No other artist can sing of that brand of vulnerability quite like Quest. And he promises that the rest of his new album elicits the same raw feelings, track to track. Befitting the fervent messages that speak of four important themes of self-love, commitment, faith, and the continuous uphill battle for purpose, album number four – coming four years after the last – is aptly entitled Battlefield Love.
“Battlefield Love is a collection of songs about the four pillars that I believe one needs to put up in order to understand the fullness of love,” he shares. “We live in a society where we’re told that love should be something you receive. But love is something you give! I still believe it should be unconditional. Love is that resource that you never run out of, and it’s something worth fighting for. As for me, that’s something I’ve been fighting for all my life.”
And at one point or another, many people may have encountered the four battles Quest himself takes on, reflected throughout his LP: the battle for the love for self; the battle to find and love one’s purpose and calling; the fight for a romantic love dedicated to someone he hasn’t met yet but is preparing himself for; and finally, the fight for his faith. Lyrically, the album promises to be encouraging, inspiring, impactful in only the best ways. Musically, the soundscape masterfully blends piano melodies, drum beats, and adventurous harmonies together to create music that speaks to the very soul in a style that’s uniquely, familiarly Quest.
“All the songs that will be released in Battlefield Love were birthed during the pandemic,” he says. “It was a crucial time for all of us. It was a time that taught me, personally, how to love myself better, how to value people more. All the battles that I sing about in the album are all battles that I really fought during the thick of the past two years of the pandemic. Gradually, we’re going back to the normal routine of life before all of this, but whatever I’ve learned during that time, whatever experiences I’ve had and whatever stories I’ve been fortunate enough to hear, they’re immortalized in this album. They’re lessons I’ll never forget.”
Of hopeful hope
With all the themes inspired by his daily life, it’s not a surprise that Quest has come up with his own personal theme for 2023. It’s reflected in the album that’s most the reflection of himself. “For 2023, I vow to eliminate mediocrity and complacency,” he promises. “I’m going to take the initiative to truly fight for my love, my life, my faith, my place in existence. I’m going to continue fighting for my place in the music industry.”
Quest is a breath of fresh air in an industry where anyone can make music from the comfort of their own bedroom. Still, he respects this and makes a vow to continue appreciating OPM in all its forms, and promises to continue making impactful music while surpassing the standards each time with his signature sound and unwaveringly authentic message. He does this the most, he states, for himself and for his listeners.
“When they hear the album, I would love for them to be inspired to make a stand to fight for what they believe in and in what they love. One of the biggest blows we took during the pandemic was us losing hope. May this album inspire them to take up their shield and sword again, and stand up and fight,” he says.
“And when they hear my music, I don’t need them to clap for me. I hope they’d come up to me and say thank you, and share how my music helped. I want it to be a therapy session for them. My songs won’t change anyone’s life. Instead, it’ll remind you that life is worth living. I’m not powerful, but I hope my songs remind you that you are.
“Because as much as this album is for me, it’s also for anyone who’s close to giving up in their fight. I hope that when you hear this album, you stand up again.”