How Island Records PH's Zack Tabudlo wrote debut single during math class

Rick Olivares

Posted at Aug 10 2020 11:17 AM

Zack Tabudlo. Handout

MANILA -- Imagine being in math class and the numbers you are seeing are chord progressions.

That is proof positive that inspiration can strike you when and where you least expect it.

This is precisely where 18-year old Zack Tabudlo got the idea for “Nangangamba” in his Island Records Philippines debut.

“I was going through this relationship. There was this girl I liked and she was in the same class as me,” related Tabudlo. “Everything was flowing but she was playing hard to get. So I didn’t know what I was doing and because of that, I didn’t know that I had legit feelings for her.”

The impetus for “Nangangamba” came a few days later. “I was in this math class and I had these chord progressions in my mind,” Tabudlo excitedly recounted. “I grabbed my phone and told myself that I needed to record this.”

The problem was it was during class and if he waited for the session to end, he might forget the chords. If he recorded in class, he ran the risk of having his phone confiscated.

In a stroke of good fortune and timing, his math teacher was called out for a few minutes giving him the opportunity to record the music. “My friend had his ukulele lying around and I used it to record the chords on my phone,” he described of his impromptu recording session.

However, the song remained unfinished until a few weeks later when another burst of inspiration struck while hanging out with his friends that also happened to include the object of his affections.

“The melody popped out,” he enthused. Only this time, he seized the day. “When I got home I wrote the song in around two hours. The entire production took about in five hours.”

And now it’s a song that has been released on all digital platforms worldwide. 

In a few weeks’ time, Tabudlo is entering first year college at the University of Perpetual Help in Las Piñas. Most youngsters his age will worry about the challenges of online schooling, the pandemic, not being able to go out and hang out like before, or even meeting up with friends and exploring relationships.

Tabudlo will also have the distinction of having a resume this early. After all, he is signed to Island Records Philippines. 

The label is home to world-famous acts such as Elton John, The Killers, The Specials, Shawn Mendes, and Keane to name a few (not to mention it also being home to Bob Marley and the Wailers and Bon Jovi). 

Even before classes begins for Tabudlo, he is seeing some numbers this early. He has close to 15,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. “Nangangamba,” which clocks in at 3:30 minutes long, was released on August 78. 

Plus, he has new songs all ready to wrapped around a debut album.

As for the girl who was the inspiration for “Nangangamba,” Tabudlo isn’t sure if she has heard the song. 

He isn’t quite sure what will happen. It could be a moment of awkwardness.

Maybe. Just maybe this could lead to another moment of inspiration.

You can already put one and one together that it will have hit single written all over it.