Guitar talk with Kitchie Nadal
Kitchie was in Davao City to launch the new TV ad of Caltex, the one that features her with a group of hip-looking musicians (they were just models, she would tell us, not musicians) driving to a gig in a van running on Techron. To be honest I was expecting her to act like a princess: I’ve had a few run-ins with celebrities who look down on other people just because they’re regular folk, and it didn’t help that it took Kitchie some time before she could sit down with us for the interview (many celebs arrive late on purpose just to show how important they are – I’ve been known to walk out of such press cons). Also, she was a little quiet when she first joined us at our table, looking behind her shoulder to see if her people were still with her. I guess it was this hint of insecurity that told me she was just a regular person who was just as apprehensive as we were, and I began asking her questions to hopefully put her at ease.
I had already decided before the interview that, being a guitar player myself, I would focus on guitars when I talked to Kitchie, so that’s what I did. First off, I asked her if she was aware that in one scene in the Techron commercial, the guitar she was using (a Gibson hollow-body electric) was shot in reverse, that is, it was a mirror image. She was surprised at that and told her manager, who said she also wasn’t aware of it. “You’re very observant,” Kitchie said. That’s because I play guitar also, I replied, and that worked to warm her up to our group. I guess it helped that a lot of the questions were about guitars and music and little of the showbiz stereotypes, with which I think she was a little uncomfortable.
I found out that Kitchie has relatively few guitars for a singer-songwriter-guitarist: a Parker Fly (which she bought from fellow singer-songwriter-guitarist Barbie Almalbis), a Taylor (or two), and a classical guitar (which she used in the show). “I’m not a guitar freak like a lot of musicians,” she said, and she doesn’t obsess on the instruments like her male colleagues. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t like fussing with guitars, and it certainly also doesn’t mean she’s a lightweight when it comes to playing them. In fact, she began her show with some cool slapping and tapping on her classical guitar, nothing fancy but not beginner stuff either.
She was actually more excited about an effects box she had bought that doubles her voice and gives her on-the-fly harmony in a “live” show. When she sang her first song that night there was a “second voice” singing with her, and at first I was disappointed because I thought she was singing to a “minus one” (even though she had a band with her). It turned out she was using this vocal gadget, and it did a lot to fatten up her sound, especially since her bandmates played instruments and did not sing backup.
What impressed me most about Kitchie was that she was not afraid to say that she was a Christian, and that a lot of her music, while not explicitly Christian, comes out of a deep faith in the Lord. The carrier single of her new album, Love Letters, is “Highway,” and while it is the theme music to the Caltex ad campaign, it also obviously talks about Jesus: “You are the highway/Apart from you are roads downhill/You are the only way, the truth, and the life/There’s no other road for me.” That’s clearly taken from Jesus’ words in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” That night, Kitchie won herself another fan in me.