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Sound and Music is for Everyone

We celebrate the boundless creativity within each of us,
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Troy Laureta

Musical Director, Musician, and Producer

Out of Dissonance, Into Harmony

Troy Laureta on emerging as an artist with confidence in his identity.

Written by Lisa Battles

All the while Yamaha Artist Troy Laureta was becoming an acclaimed and sought-after music director, he did it over a dissonance no one else could hear.

“Filipinos don’t make it in the music industry.”

“Water yourself down to make yourself more palatable.”

“I’m just one disappointment after another.”

It was a chorus that couldn’t have been more off-key or out-of-tune and, even worse, one of the voices was his own.

Yet soon after Laureta graduated from Musicians Institute in 2008, he was traveling the world and working with talents such as Ariana Grande, Andrea Bocelli and Stevie Wonder. It was during this time that he found a mentor in renowned producer and composer David Foster.

[Photo] Troy Laureta

Setting the Stage

[Image] “If you mute the noise and push play on your experience, you’re in for the greatest time of your life.”

With his release of Dalamhati in October 2023, Laureta finally removed the noise from his internal soundtrack. It is the third and final album of his series celebrating Original Pilipino Music, commonly called OPM. In the first two volumes, Laureta explored friendships and self-love, respectively. With the third, he broke through his internal dissonance, revealing rich layers of character he’d long repressed — pride in his ethnicity and sexuality, and resilience to depression.

The album also turned the spotlight on Laureta, allowing him to boldly step out of the background and to the forefront as a solo artist. By hitting that mark, he’s reawakened his childhood joy of performing and what led him to pursue a life of music.

With his first major solo performances kicking off with a headlining show in Las Vegas on June 14, Laureta reflected on the path that brought him to this moment and hopes it will inspire others. He is finally pushing play on his most lush arrangement yet, which is his proud identity as a Filipino-American gay musician.

[Photo] Troy Laureta

Building the Composition

Laureta was eight and his sister six when they began performing music together in their native Hawaii. They both sang and he played the piano, entertaining audiences at “every wedding, every type of funeral, every type of debut or quinceañera,” he recalls.

Although they came from a musical family, pursuing it as a career was not the norm. Laureta says it took a lot of convincing to get his parents’ blessing to move to L.A. to study at Musicians Institute, but ultimately, he and his sister did just that. But even as they struggled to find their footing as artists, Laureta was learning more in school about the other avenues where he could apply his musical talents and natural inclinations.

“I’ve loved musical directing ever since I [was a child],” he says, “and I didn't even know I loved it! I just really [enjoyed] putting together bands and the arrangements for shows — I have such a passion for that.

“When I got to L.A., I got more information and education that helped me succeed in a lot of auditions,” he adds. “One of the first big auditions I did was for David Foster — you know, the legendary David Foster — one of my mentors in music. He taught me a lot about what it takes to be not just a musical director, but a musician and a producer.”

Working with Foster created a snowball effect, and before long, Laureta was serving as musical director for a diverse group of artists, from Grande to Bocelli. “To direct for different genres with many different people from all over the world is something I am very proud of and something I really worked hard to be able to do,” he says.

[Photo] Troy Laureta

Internal Orchestration

And then the events of 2020 unfolded, which served as “a catalyst and an eye-opener” for Laureta.

“That time was so sad; I was going through a deep depression,” he says. “There were no shows going on. There were very limited outlets to express yourself musically. It forced me to reevaluate, rethink and rebrand what I wanted to do.”

From that mindset, he developed the idea for Kaibigan, the first of his OPM Collective recordings. The album pairs two of Laureta’s most beloved aspects in life: friendships (Kaibigan means “friend”) and the comfort that classic Filipino songs have brought him throughout even the hardest times. Laureta called on numerous friends and colleagues to collaborate on the project, and they all said yes.

Kaibigan took off, charting in the Philippines and many parts of Asia, which led Laureta to create Volume 2, titled Giliw, which means “love,” and then ultimately, Volume 3, Dalamhati, which means “grief.” The focus, Laureta explains, isn’t on sadness itself but on the good that comes from working through it. And it was with this third album he publicly announced he was gay and celebrated it.

[Image] “I was closeted for most of my adult life, so to be able to use Filipino music and my experience to celebrate it was almost like a triumph for me”

“I was closeted for most of my adult life, so to be able to use Filipino music and my experience to celebrate it was almost like a triumph for me,” Laureta says. “To say that I am proud to be a Filipino-American gay musician, to finally be free, musically free, about myself and to celebrate my Filipino-ness, was probably one of the greatest moments in my life. It took me a while to get there.”

[Photo] Troy Laureta

Pushing Play on the Experience

During the making of the three albums, Laureta turned his musical direction skills inward. Instead of building an incredible band or stage production, he arranged parts of himself. His deep personal discovery revealed a more intimate knowledge of his emotional range, capabilities and timbre. And with the final album, he emerged more balanced, harmonious and whole.

In other words, he’s finally done for himself what he’s helped other artists do for 16 years. And now he is poised to be the artist he set out to be. While following practical advice may have helped him achieve acclaim as a producer, emerging as a performer is the final piece of fully realizing his identity.

“I love producing, but I live on that stage, honey,” Laureta says. And from the stage, he certainly won’t hear that old chorus of naysayers. “In anything that you do, especially the arts, there will always be adversity. But the biggest revenge is your paper, as Queen Bey [Beyoncé] says. [The best payback] is to succeed and celebrate. If you mute the noise and push play on your experience, you’re in for the greatest time of your life.”

For more information, visit Troy Laureta’s Instagram page and YouTube channel.