November 25, 2022 | 12:00am
International hitmaker Brian McKnight Jr. and Filipina R&B singer Kyla were impressed with each other’s musicality and professionalism when they recorded their first collaboration COY (Cuz of You).
The two met a few years back when Brian Jr. — the son of multi-Grammy winner Brian McKnight (Back At One and Anytime) — came to the Philippines.
“It’s really interesting because, I don’t wanna be wrong, but I feel like we had met a long time ago. It was actually the first time and the only time that I’ve been to the Philippines and it was actually around the time I wrote this song,” the American singer recalled in a virtual call.
“It was no coincidence at all,” he asserted. “Immediately, my brother and I, we were so impressed. I mean, we were watching the videos, even my dad personally was really, really impressed. I know early on that you (Kyla) are someone that I want to work with, without a doubt.”
Ten years later, they recorded the heartfelt love song in Brian Jr.’s apartment in North Hollywood. “We literally did it in my living room. It was so organic (and) it was so at home feeling. Even just that, a little bit that we got to work together, not to be cliché, but it came together perfectly.”
Kyla echoed what the singer said and added, “Except that I felt like twice as much, twice as happy and twice as excited because first, that’s Brian McKnight Jr. Who wouldn’t be happy singing with him and recording the song with him?”
She also remembered how “nervous” she was when she came to his apartment in North Hollywood. “I didn’t know what I was gonna wear, to be honest with you. So, I was wearing a blazer. I wanted to look formal but when I got there, they were so casual.”
She also “felt at home” while recording with him. “He was so easy to work with. It was such a breeze recording the song (and) I learned a lot from the recording session. He was teaching me something. Like ‘do this,’ I like that. I like learning from somebody. I was so happy when I heard the final (output).”
A bit of background, Brian Jr. penned the ditty when he was 18, the same time he wrote Marry Your Daughter. He described COY (Cuz of You) as “one of my most favorite songs that I’ve ever written.”
It was “heartwarming” for him to release the two songs because “they really come from a place of mine that, you know, I was trying to figure out who I wanted to be as a songwriter.”
“And having the incredible Kyla (whom) I’ve been such a huge fan of ever (and to have her) grace the song with her presence, I couldn’t be more happy and more elated to share this song with the world. I’m just so thankful,” he said.
The source of inspiration of COY was someone Brian Jr. used to date. “I thought I could be with (her) for a long time,” but it didn’t work out.
Nevertheless, Brian Jr. hopes that the song will “inspire more love across the board.”
He told The STAR, “The emotion that I would love this song to inspire (is) beyond just love ‘coz that’s a very vague answer in the sense of what I think could inspire but it should give you that warm, fuzzy, that butterfly feeling.
“I think that’s a perfect way to express it because that could be nervous… that could be love at first sight type of just, you know, merging into someone that you could spend the rest of your life with because that’s what the song is really about.”
He continued, “I hope the young people, old people, couples, single people, would listen to it. At the very least, (to) have that moment to imagine in themselves that type of loving, budding relationship because I think it’s something we all yearn for. And I don’t think that’s ever gonna go away. I think, it has the potential to be a timeless record that could also be a wedding song, that could be that song you know that young guy plays for his girl on that drive home (and) to see if she feels the same way he does.”
Kyla, for her part, said she immediately “fell in love with the song” when she heard it the first time. “It’s like a theme song for a movie. That’s how I felt like listening to the song. It’s so beautiful, it’s almost enchanting listening to the song.”
The Hanggang Ngayon singer generously sang her favorite line from the song, “My guard is down/Take my heart now/Feel it beat/Because of you/Because of you.”
Kyla shared she felt honored and “lucky” to be working with Brian Jr. and previously with his father. He described the father and son as both “great vocalists and songwriters.”
“I look up so much to Brian McKnight, he’s also one of the vocalists that I look up to and I grew up listening to his songs. With Brian McKnight (Jr.), the song that he has written, it’s more like it has a younger sound. Haha!” she replied when asked to compare the father and son.
Kyla also noted the similarities with their voices. “I have been honored to be able to work with Brian McKnight when he wrote the song My Heart (Kyla’s wedding song). It’s so funny because I only met him on Twitter a long, long time ago. Because his song Home (was) such an inspirational song, I covered that song. Yes, he heard it and we kind of met on Twitter and then like I don’t know, I asked him if he could write a song for me,” recalled Kyla.
The Back at One crooner eventually recorded and sent the track to Kyla. “He was so generous and nice,” she said of Brian. “I’m so lucky I get to sing with both of them.”
The official music video for COY is available on Tarsier Records’ YouTube channel featuring Kapamilya talents Anji Salvacion and Brent Manalo.
The COY collaboration is in line with ABS-CBN’s “pursuit to expand globally by championing Filipino talents in the international arena.”