emilio basa
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emilio basa

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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"Catch Emilio Basa at a Small Venue While You Still Can"

One of life’s sweetnesses is discovering a musician before he or she bursts into mainstream popularity. Imagine being one of the lucky ones who discovered Led Zeppelin playing small gigs. Or seeing The White Stripes when they were unknown and played at small places like Paycheck’s in Hamtramck.

Singer/songwriter Emilio Basa, 26, of Troy hasn’t made a mark yet on the big map of music. He’s stil relatively unknown even in the Detroit area and mostly plays coffeehouses. No big label is sniffing around him yet. His CDs are self-published. So the right time is on our side.

Basa, whose musical history is an interesting one, will perform at the tiny, and intimate Xhedo’s café in Ferndale on Saturday. He’ll play his guitar acoustic style, sing solo, and will be performing pumped-up, overdriven tunes in the band Resident Alien.

He’s not a crooning folk-style solo artist. Basa’s style is raw, raspy, with R&B influence. His often sad lyrics are different from his cheery personality.

“I’m a completely upbeat person, I never want to be pessimistic about life,” Basa said. “I think I use the music to get rid of any negativity that I might feel even a bit.”

Basa was raised in a strict Baptist family and wasn’t permitted to listen to any music except classical. But it was a blessing because he is classically trained in piano, violin, and voice.

“I didn’t hear rock ‘n roll until I was 19,” Basa said. “I sang in a gospel choir. I remember the first time I heard Led Zeppelin, I listened to Houses of the Holy over and over again.
He became obsessed with rock ‘n roll, diving into Radiohead, The Counting Crows, Oasis, Incubus, Sarah McLachlan, Jimi Hendrix and of course, The Beatles. He realized that playing guitar and singing enabled him to express feelings that he never knew he could say.

“My biggest inspiration is Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds. His songwriting is incredible.”
Basa is currently working on his first full-length CD, but his five-song EP, Fade, is available at his shows. And they always sell.

“I hold nothing back in my music,” Basa said. “I try to keep my lyrics broad. I don’t want to sing about things that only a few people can understand or connect to. A lot of people tell me they get something out of my music, I don’t know what that is, but I hope it can make people feel.”

Top of the World is about being near people you love “and living life the way it was supposed to be lived.” Fade is about fading from the eyes of your lover and not being able to stop it.

There is a song he never plays live anymore.

“It’s called Everything Fell Apart and it’s so sad. I wrote the whole song in one night because of a relationship that just went to garbage; it’s too depressing.”
Proof of his desire to be happy-go-lucky.

“I love sharing my music, I love to play.”

The enthusiasm is part of the pleasure of seeing a musician who’s still new. A musician whose name, if luck allows it, won’t be unknown for long.
- Lana Mini with Filter Magazine

"Killing Me Softly"

There’s just something about him. At 24 years old, he has boyish good looks and a slightly shy mischievous smile that dangles around his mouth, adding to his charm. But when this man sings, his voice hits your heart almost before your ears have time to hear the music. Then you catch the words – inviting, raw and exposed, utterly defenseless and you, my friend, are all in.

Emilio Basa is an up-and-coming acoustic musician in the Detroit area. He has performed at numberous open mics these last few years and had shows at coffee houses in the area, including the now defunct Bittersweet.

Talking about love and loss, Basa has a way of making you pay attention to what he is saying. It just seems more important, more immediate and closer to what you’ve experienced yourself. It’s your life that you see in his eyes and hear in his music.

Basa talked about growing in a restricted household under the harshness of Catholicism and his Philippine roots. His father, an accomplished classical guitar player in the Phillippines, had a strong influence on him and encouraged his love of music. Basa said he attended Catholic schools all his life – including college. His family is loving and close, though his parent did try to shelfter him from the world at large. Dancing was not allowed and anything but Christian music was strictly forbidden.

Basa started playing piano at the age of eight and continued taking lessons through high school. In eight grade he took up violin and played through the 10th grade reaching first and second chair level. Basa said he quit because of his overwhelming stage fright. At one performance, he said, he was shaking so badly that his teacher had to hold his hands. “My whole body was shaking,” Basa said, “but I managed to get third placed because I played so passionately.” His piano teacher thought he had potential and was disappointment when he quit.

“I never practiced until an hour before the lesson,” he said. “I botched up the preliminaries on purpose so I wouldn’t have to go to the competitions. I was too busy hanging with friends.”

When it came time to select a college, Basa wanted to go to Cedarwater in Ohio, but was strongly advised against it because it would “corrupt” him. At the Bethany Christian school he attended, one of the teacher’s kids was kicked out for going to the movies to see the “Titanic.” Basa himself ran into trouble after borrowing the Green Day album, Dookie, and lending it to a friend of his at school. His friend got caught with the album and it was traced back to Basa. He was reprimanded and almost expelled for such a deed. For Basa, the Green Day album was an awakening to his senses and the way he felt.

“There is a song on there that has the lines. ‘When masturbation’s lost its fun,’ and I just thought it was so great.” Basa said. “Someone was talking about real feelings and wasn’t afraid to express them out loud. It was a turning point for me. I started listening to everything I could get my hands on and I felt everything opening up for me.”

Basa said he listened to Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, and Counting Crows. “I’d never seen anyone play like that before,” he said. “It made me want to play guitar.”

Basa took up the guitar, taking lessons and learning and everything he could. At the same time, he was invited by a friend to attend their church, an all-black congregation that had a choir. Basa said he couldn’t believe the music he heard there. He joined the choir, struggling to sing and clap at the same time, but said it really helped to strengthen his voice.

Later, Sean Fitzgerald, who was hosting an open mic night, encouraged Basa to come play there. Basa said that although he loved to play he hated to perform for others. With the support of friends and fellow musicians, he was able to overcome this obstacle and begain performing at other open mics in the area.

Blair, who was hosting the Bittersweet open mic nights and often refers to Basa as the “One man boy band,” is a fellow supporter who inspired him to continue playing and put his songs on a CD.

Basa did just that and now has a site on mp3.com, where you can hear three of his recent tunes. His song, “Obsession” is a knock-out rocker with lyrics to match. Be sure to check it out and let him knowh what you think on the “Back the Bands” section of the site.

Basa is in the process of getting his band, “Primer,” together. Look for Basa and his group in upcoming events around town and be sure to show them some love.

- Annie Houston with The South End


Fade - 2004 EP
Emilio Basa - 2000-2003 Compilation LP
Emilio Basa - Sweet Memories LP (in progress)
Resident Alien - Euphoria EP
Resident Alien - Resident Alien LP (in progress)
Emilio Basa - Poor Boy LP (in progress)



Emilio Basa, an original solo singer/songwriter from the suburbs of Detroit, is a mixture of urban folk, R&B, alternative, and rock. His sound has been compared to that of Jeff Buckley, Tracy Chapman, and the Counting Crows. His mission is to continually keep his edgy sound yet popular.
Emilio was raised in the northern Detroit suburbs of Troy, where he was classically trained in piano, violin, and voice at a Christian school. After years of performing classical music, he wanted to perform more popular songs that he heard on the radio. Unfortunately due to the stern rules of his school, he was never allowed to listen to any other musical style besides the classical.
When he graduated high school, Emilio moved to Ohio to attend a private university where he studied Marketing and Theology. He also took this opportunity to learn more about music. He soaked up every piece of music he could get his hands on. The music of Dave Matthews, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Counting Crows, D'Angelo, U2, and other great artists consumed his life. It was at this time, Emilio learned to appreciate and see the beauty in all music. He learned how to play guitar, write poetry, and develop his voice by joining a southern gospel choir.
After graduating, Emilio took his material and began performing at several open mics around Detroit. Through open mics he was able to perfect his stage performance by incorporating improvisational song writing and an unleashed passion in his playing. Soon he was captivating his audience with emotionally driven shows and a voice that ranged from a soft whisper to a subtle scream.
Emilio is finishing up his first full length CD with his band, Resident Alien. The self-entitled CD will be finished by late summer 2006. The band will continue to perform in the Detroit area. By early fall 2006, Emilio will start recording his second solo album entitled Poor Boy. He is currently booking shows in Chicago, Nashville, Cleveland, and New York to reach new audiences to promote his music and albums.
With all the new terms being thrown around, it is hard to hold Emilio to a specific style. One thing you can call it is a style all his own. It is his inter-most desires and thoughts put into music. It is his experiences written into words. It is almost as if you have no choice, but to get drawn in. His music is inviting, raw, exposed and he holds nothing back.