More than a decade into the game, Crwn is only just getting started | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

There’s no denying the importance of firsts, whether in relationships or career milestones. In music, the debut album stands not only as an artist’s introduction to the world but also a collection of musical ideas and inspirations gathered throughout a lifetime. 

More than a decade in the industry as an acclaimed electronic producer, DJ, and songwriter, it may be a little too late for firsts for King Puentespina, aka Crwn, but there’s nothing getting in the way of him and his perfect debut.

“Séance” is a 12-track dance record featuring 10 distinct artists in the local music scene: Curtismith, Jason Dhakal, Jolianne, Olympia, Six The Northstar, Jess Connelly, August Wahh, Nadine Lustre, LONER, and TALA. The album chronicles Crwn’s 11-year career with a list of collaborators he has previously worked with and long adored, and is a culmination of everything he has learned throughout the years.

crwn inside his studio
Inside Crwn’s studio

“It was a lot of thinking, absorbing art, researching, and drafting concepts and tracks into existence. The backbone and foundation of the project took time, but the actual making of the music went smoother and a lot quicker than I expected. It was like finding the ingredients took forever, but summoning the art into the world was easy,” shares Crwn.

Read more: PREP can’t live without music

Here, we caught up with Crwn ahead of the release of “Séance” to chat about the new album, his growth as an artist, and why he regards his latest project as his debut.

What is “Séance” all about?

“Séance” was in my head for around six years ever since “Orchid.” I really wanted to make an album, a dance record really, that incorporates my love for everything horror.

I have 10 artists on the album and it has 12 tracks. I have the intro and outro and these were like the bookmarks sandwiching these artists.

You refer to the intro and outro of the album as bookmarks. If “Séance” was a book, what story would it tell?

It’s more of an anthology, like “Black Mirror” or “The Twilight Zone.” It’s all different stories but with a main storyline revolving around love. Séances are usually connected to the paranormal and raising the dead. I wanted to flip it and make it more about summoning love and good energy. But it’s really also like a culmination of my career. 

You describe the album as a culmination of sorts. How so?

“Séance” features a lot of my collaborators from the past, artists that I really look up to. I wanted to merge different scenes in the music industry, different circles in music, and sort of put them in one project that made sense.

If Crwn was gonna have a first album, it should be of that caliber. I want it to be a classic, at least for me

You can’t really pick favorites, but if you had to?

I mean, I feel like all the tracks are my babies. But if I had one track right now that I was obsessed with, it would be “Waiting For You” (feat. LONER). It’s the third to the last track. 

crwn and dog
Crwn with his pet dog Boba

I noticed that Jolianne was on the record. You already previously worked together?

We were supposed to—it’s a funny story. Before she signed with Careless, she emailed me during the pandemic wanting to make a song together. But then, Pool Records, my label that we started, we didn’t have much resources then. So we ended up putting it back on the shelf. Now that we’re more prepared, we also put her on board.

Read more: Norwegian-Filipino artist Hillari joins forces with Jolianne for a reimagined “Loyal”

So you didn’t get to start on the project at all?

We do have a song together and it’s a really good one. I don’t know though if it’s ever gonna see the light of day.

What was one thing you learned about yourself throughout the album-making process?

I learned that I needed to keep things simple for me to finish. It was easier for me to finish the songs with that mindset because I have a bad habit of overproducing. And when I did get to that point, I simply trimmed the fat and made it as simple as possible.

Having been making music for over a decade, how would you describe your growth?

Exponential, I would say. I wanted to make this album from the get-go, but I didn’t have the right tools, the techniques, and the knowledge when it came to music production. I went in this super blind and I had to learn on the fly. I’ve had to learn from other people and watch a lot of electronic acts both locally and internationally just to find the sound that I wanted. I think I came pretty close to it.

Who are some of the influences that shaped your sound?

Definitely Frank Ocean. When “Blonde” came out, that was life-changing. Jessie Ware was also a big influence on this album specifically because their albums were centered around dance and I really wanted to dive into that.

You mentioned that you had to learn on the fly. Throughout your career, did you witness your sound develop from one thing to another? Or was it more honed and shaped?

It was definitely honed and shaped. It was a lot of practice, a lot of research, and a lot of listening. I think 90 percent of it was just listening to music. I believe Tyler, the Creator said he would listen to two hours’ worth of music every day before he got into a session just to absorb everything. That was quite eye-opening, but I’ve also been doing that since I also DJ so I’ve got to keep my ear on the ground for new music.

Crwn shared that the demos for the album were mostly done within a day

Out of curiosity, what’s the digital audio workstation that you use?

Ableton Live. The learning curve for it is so stupid. You have to be doing it every day for a month just to get a handle on it. But I started out in GarageBand.

How is “Séance” your debut album when you’ve released others before?

I consider it my debut because this was the album that I wanted to be my first. You know how there are so many artists that have the best first album—Frank Ocean has “Channel Orange,” The Strokes has “Is This It,” John Mayer has “Room For Squares,” and SZA has “Ctrl.” 

Those are crazy first albums. I wanted to take my time. If Crwn was gonna have a first album, it should be of that caliber. I want it to be a classic, at least for me. The universe is going to pick its side. At least, I wanted to wait until I was ready to make that.

Looking back at your career, what would you describe as your biggest win?

My biggest win is being in this career for this long. When I graduated college, I didn’t go for any other job. My biggest win is the idea that I’m still in the game. I’m very grateful and I’m very blessed to still be in this position to keep doing this. I want to do this till I die. 

But there have been times when I wanted to quit and apply for a day job. After all, it’s a lot of responsibility as an artist. It’s a lot of sacrifice. It’s a lot of being patient.

My biggest win is the idea that I’m still in the game. I’m very grateful and I’m very blessed to still be in this position to keep doing this. I want to do this till I die

crwn with seance book
“Séance,” a photobook documenting various spiritualist communities by Shannon Taggart, assisted Crwn in further solidifying the concept of the album

What kept you going?

My wife would be number one. And I don’t know, I just love music so much. I don’t want to ever get off making it. I could start scoring or start doing prod work, but it’s just so fun. I don’t ever want to get out of that feeling of making a track with someone.

“Séance” is an album that chronicles your journey from start to today. What would the Crwn of today tell the Crwn that just started?

You can do it. You’re an artist. Trust the process. And probably the winning lottery numbers.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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