by Chandler Christopher
Mellow Fellow is the bedroom-pop persona of Filipino suburban prodigy, Polo Reyes. Conceived as a result of a college side-hobby, Mellow Fellow drew listeners in with his dreamy, jazz-infused riffs layered with romantic, reflective lyrics. Growing up in the Philippines, it is not common for someone to be represented on a national stage, so Polo’s success has not only lifted himself, but his entire surrounding community as well. As an undergraduate student, Polo was introduced to the hazy, soothing sounds of bands like Little Joy, leading him to take a crack at creating this style of music as well. He began releasing tracks on Soundcloud as Mellow Fellow and soon after was propelled into Soundcloud fame along with other current stars such as Clairo and Cuco. Although Mellow Fellow has often been categorized as bedroom-pop, his current endeavors aim to stray from this and step out of his musical comfort zone.
Polo’s newly acquired fan base resulted in nearly two straight years of touring, but not without a bit of convincing from his friends. “I’d never played on-stage as Mellow Fellow, only other side gigs. I was too much of a perfectionist to play as Mellow Fellow because I didn’t think I’d be able to get the sound I wanted.” Polo and his six bandmates scored a gig playing in a small, indie festival in Singapore, where Polo says it was an incredible experience and he made lots of new friends. Following this, the Mellow Fellow crew played a gig in Hong Kong, where there unexpectedly turned out to be a 700 person crowd. The next show, believe it or not, was in Indonesia and garnered nearly 4000 people. Polo notes about the experience that “I didn’t feel ready but I knew if I didn’t take these opportunities it may be over so it was a leap of faith that I’m glad I took.” Polo plans to expand his knowledge and, in a post-pandemic world, will allocate and manage his funds much more effectively.
One of the most impactful and stark realizations for Polo was the impact he saw that he had on minorities. As someone bringing substantial representation to Asian people in the indie music scene on a national stage, Mellow Fellow realized that his unforeseen life-path was becoming much bigger than himself.
“We don’t get a lot of representation in the indie space. Around the world, Asians are underrepresented. I was playing a show at the Paper Tiger in San Antonio and there was an African-American couple who came up to me after the show and were really thanking me. I was wondering what for… and they said for being on-stage representing minorities. An asian kid being up there on stage and being watched by white people and representing the minority community has had a real impact on me. It was very overwhelming to take it all in at first. When I see Asians making it, it gives me and my communities hope. That’s what keeps me going sometimes.”
In a couple of weeks, Polo is making a huge move from the Philippines all the way to Toronto, Canada. He is enrolled in a music business school program, with the goal to expand his knowledge and truly learn how to elevate his career in a smart, sustainable way. Charged with a humble perspective and driven by an urge to educate himself, Mellow Fellow is guaranteed to evolve his craft to a level which demands more time and skill. Mellow Fellow’s first project, Jazzie Robinson, is an 8-track album that Polo describes as “a collection of all the songs I’d released that I felt were acceptable at the time.” Although inattentively released as a project comprised primarily of demo material, the tape gained enough traction for Polo to realize he could potentially create a career out of his music. Mellow Fellow’s upcoming sounds are going to be much different, as Polo is looking to “reinvent himself as a musician.” Expect a guitar-based and “more aggressive” sound from Polo– something that I am personally thrilled to hear. Mellow Fellow, aka Polo Reyes, is an intelligent and glorified musical soul, blessed with the talent and platform to elevate an entire surrounding community around the world.