By TJ Delima
Ohio was originally written in 2016 when Chelsea joined Belltower Project Kwatro, a collective of artists in and around Dumaguete City who help each other out with their music. At the time, the song was about having fun, being present and alive, making friends, college, the Dumaguete music scene, making mistakes and learning from them, diving into opportunities, and facing challenges and disappointment.
Today, the song holds a different meaning for Chelsea. It serves as a time machine, taking her back to those carefree, youthful days and allowing her to relive all of the emotions she felt then. As she sings in the song, “I wanna do that all again, want to feel whatever happened.” The title, “Ohio,” is a playful nod to this sentiment, with the letters “O-high-o” representing the longing for that certain high.
Besides that, she also wants listeners outside of Dumaguete to hear the track and imagine what it feels like to be in Dumaguete. She hopes that it will cure the nostalgia of those who were present at the time the song peaked and of those who helped her push herself with her music and believed in her. Most of them are no longer in Dumaguete, but with Ohio being put out, Chelsea is hoping it will bring back memories for them and make them feel connected to her and her music.
The process of writing the song, according to Chelsea, was a quick and natural one. Being a binge-drinker at the time, the song came to her while she was under the influence. It’s a literal song about the kick or high you get from drinking. However, producing the song was a bit more complicated. Chelsea had help from the Belltower Project core team but, due to the pandemic, it took them two years to finish the entire thing. They recorded in both Juni Jay Tinambacan’s home studio and Law Tanatan’s studio, The Workroom PH. They also had Chelsea’s childhood friend Marco Alessandro Montesa track some lead guitar riffs, and Juni did the rest of the work altogether – bass lines, keys, mixing and mastering.
In the end, it was all worth it. Ohio is a song that Chelsea is proud of, and she is grateful for the help and support of the Belltower Project core team in bringing it to life. The finished product is a testament to the power of collaboration and the beauty of creating music in the face of adversity.
The visual aspect of a release is just as important as the music. For Ohio, the cover art was created by Chelsea‘s friend Amber Tashiro, who created an intricate illustration that captures the essence of Dumaguete. The art features palm trees, a river, clouds in the shape of Ohio, fields, flowers, and, whimsically, a rainbow hammock. The “Tonight with Chelsea Dawn” alludes to a classic signboard at one of the most visited cafes, El Amigo, back in the day where Chelsea used to play there. The pets in the illustration are Chelsea‘s actual dogs, Ivy and Kofi, and her cat Una.