Surrey singer soars into Searchlight song contest’s top 10 with ‘It Doesn’t Matter’

** This story was updated at 11:07 a.m. June 22

An uplifting electro-pop song sent Surrey’s Argel Monte de Ramos soaring into the top-10 of CBC Music’s Searchlight contest.

The Fleetwood-area resident, 24, only recently started recording his music, as a pandemic-era project of his.

His contest-entry track, “It Doesn’t Matter,” was among the first songs he and a friend produced.

“I’ve actually been writing songs and just been keeping them in a book, trying to get the courage to get them produced,” Monte de Ramos told the Now-Leader.

He was among Searchlight’s three “popular vote” finalists, joined by seven others picked by CBC Music producers.

“This Filipino-Canadian singer/actor rocketed to the top of the vote column with his electro-pop anthem ‘It Doesn’t Matter,’” says a website post listing all of the contest finalists. “Turns out, in this case, the votes do matter!”

• RELATED STORY: Surrey singer Tyler Joe Miller needs votes to win $25K ‘Top of the Country’ contest

The Searchlight 2021 contest winner and four runners-up were named Tuesday, June 22, and Monte de Ramos wasn’t among them.

The grand-prize winner, Scarborough-based R&B singer Jhyve, will be registered in the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class in Toronto, win five days of recording at Studio Bell at the National Music Centre in Calgary, a Play MPE distribution deal and a Toyota prize pack of studio time and musical instruments.

“For me, getting into the top 100 was already a big thing,” Monte de Ramos said before the contest winners were revealed.

“They had 2,400 or 2,500 entries, so to be included in the top 100 was already a win. Then getting into the top 10 – like, I still can’t believe it. I keep checking the website to see if they’d changed it, or somehow my name wasn’t there, or it was an error or something, a technical issue. I’m just beyond grateful for this opportunity.

“If I get the prize, that will be great, but even if I don’t get that recording contract and the prizes, I won’t stop producing music, not now.”

Another song of his, “Sail Away,” is posted to his website and also Youtube.

Monte de Ramos is a fourth-year performing arts student at North Vancouver’s Capilano University, where he also works two jobs helping fellow students navigate online learning and campus life.

He entered the Searchlight contest after enrolling in a music-mentorship program with the Arthaus studio and music company, based in Toronto.

“I put my song out there and all my friends and family have been encouraging me to release it for so long, so I found the courage to do that,” Monte de Ramos said. “I posted a lot of stories to Instagram and Facebook and reached out to the communities in which I belong, including the Filipino community, the church community, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Capilano University, theatre friends I’ve been working with. I’m lucky to be in so many communities that pretty much helped me get into the top 10.”
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