A full hour was spent watching videos of singer Mona Gonzales that were uploaded to YouTube and Tiktok. Her content is purely entertaining. Mona has a beautiful voice and a pixieish appearance. She’s awesome doing song covers especially K-Pop, J-Pop, and anime theme songs on her channel. This Butuan City native credits his brother for influencing her on everything anime. “My love of Japanese and anime theme songs began in the early 2000s, when my brother and I spent time watching our favorite anime TV series. Every afternoon after school, we’d watch anime series. We’d be excited to go home and be in front of our TV. I would imitate anime theme song singers’ voices and it evolved into a hobby,” shares Mona.
The number of people who follow this singer-songwriter on Tiktok is staggering. She says she began posting about fashion and dubbing. When she ran out of ideas for posts, that’s when she started sharing videos of herself singing. “I was practicing the Demon Slayer theme song, “Gurenge,” and I decided to post the clip, which went viral. Following that, people began requesting anime theme songs for me to cover. What began as a hobby became my life and the means by which I was discovered,” Mona shares. She is the first female solo talent signed by ShowBT, the Philippine-based entertainment, creative content, and event promotion group that also represents the P-pop supergroup SB19. Mona began as a content creator for ShowBT before being recruited as a trainee. She received dance, vocal, and self-development training as one. “They offered to train me for a year, after which they gave me a song. Ohwon Lee, a Korean music producer, produced ‘Always Remember,’ and I wrote the lyrics,” explains Mona.
Read on as Mona talks more about her boom on social media, her first single “Always Remember,” and who she wants to collaborate with.
YOU HAVE A LARGE FOLLOWING ON TIKTOK; WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THE SIZE OF YOUR AUDIENCE ON THAT PLATFORM?
My Tiktok followers were around 200K before I started posting content of me singing. Then, when I started posting clips of songs I’d cover, it grew from 200K to 1M, and then to 6M. When it reached 6M, I began my training with ShowBT. I couldn’t reveal that information at the time because it was strictly forbidden by management so I just continued posting stuff that I would post. I enjoy singing songs from various genres and languages. I recorded a short video of myself singing the Spanish song “Suave” by The Gadget. My followers increased from 6 million to 17 million after I posted that. The progression was unexpected and quick.
I really don’t give much thought to the songs I’d cover and create clips for. I just sing and then post it.
DOES MUSIC RUN IN THE FAMILY?
Yes, my family is very musically inclined. They really love listening to music. My parents used to join singing contests in their younger years. My brother and sisters all sing. They’re really the ones who exposed me to music.
I used to sing in an acoustic band. During the promo of “Always Remember,” my boss suggested that I learn how to play the song in a guitar. I have a guitar teacher but I really tried learning the song myself.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WANT TO TAKE THIS MUSIC THING SERIOUSLY?
In 2020, I was a graduating medical technician, but our ceremony was disrupted by the pandemic, which caused everything to be delayed, including graduation and board exams. I wasn’t particularly preoccupied at the time. I simply stayed at home, worked as a frontliner on occasion, and created my online content. That is where I express myself, when I create content. When I started posting my videos and they went viral, opportunities presented themselves, one of which was the people from ShowBT. They took a chance on me and invited me to be a trainee. I decided to pursue my dream of making music after receiving a sign from God. Even though there was no graduation ceremony in 2020, we were already considered graduates. I was about to enroll in a review course for my board exams when it was postponed for the first time. I was about to re-enroll for the review when I prayed to God to direct my action. After a week, Sir Charles (Kim), the CEO of ShowBT called and asked me to come to Manila right away. The schedule for the second board exam was also rescheduled. I chose to go to Manila instead, seeing it as a sign and seizing the opportunity.
I believe ShowBT chose me to be part of their roster because of my eagerness and passion for singing and creating music. I’ve always written lyrics. That, I believe, is what they saw in me, and it is why they offered me an opportunity in their company.
WHICH ARTISTS DO YOU LOOK UP TO AND INSPIRE YOU?
I am inspired by many artists, but I try not to “be” them because I want to have my own identity, which I want to share with everyone. Others may say, “Ah, she’s influenced by this or that,” but at the end of the day, that’s me. I am interested in the careers of many artists. I enjoy listening to boy bands such as Backstreet Boys and Westlife. Takako Hirasama, anime theme sons, P-pop, Sarah Geronimo, Beyonce, Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston are some of my favorite artists.
BRIEFLY, CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH YOUR SONGWRITING PROCESS?
I remember doing several demos, two final recordings, and one super final for “Always Remember.” I wrote the story for “Always Remember” based on how I felt at the time. I was having second thoughts about myself and my abilities. I wrote down everything I wanted to say. “Always Remember” had numerous stories and revisions. Fortunately, the one chosen was my favorite, the first lyrics I wrote. I really wanted that to be the song’s story.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT KIND OF ONLINE CONTENT TO CREATE?
I create content in my unique style. The feeling is different when you create content because you want to rather than because you have to or for the sake of other people’s attention. It’s fine with me even if my post was only viewed by one person; remember, I started from zero?
ANYONE THAT YOU WOULD LOVE TO COLLABORATE WITH LOCALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY?
Most new artists want to work with well-known people. I want to work with emerging artists like myself. Artists who are not given the opportunity to showcase their skills. I want to be an inspiration to these aspiring musicians. I want them to understand that, even though they are still at the beginning of their musical journey and may have few audiences, I want to help them and provide them with a platform. What happened to me has been a huge blessing that I believe should be shared with others, especially those who are extremely talented but go unnoticed.
ANYTHING THAT YOU’RE MOST EXCITED ABOUT, CAREER WISE, THIS YEAR?
We’re preparing the release of new songs this year, I have an upcoming song that will be released this month (Note: She’s talking about Tagahanga that was just release last March 24, 2023. Mona wrote the lyrics and was again produced by OhWon Lee. Here, she expresses her inner thoughts as a fangirl). I’m also excited about more live performances.