BYU–Hawaii sophomore Kyle Kristian Acain said he grew up in a musical Filipino family and was inspired by his father's love of music and his older sibling's ability to play instruments. However, he said he had to conquer stage fright to discover singing and playing the guitar are the strengths he uses to survive in society and bring people joy.
He said, “Singing and playing the guitar are my important emotional sources, and they are my stress relievers.” He added it is "what I can give to others.”
He said two of his friends, who are also involved in music, helped him to recognize his love for the art. He said they always encouraged him to sing in front of an audience, but he always refused. However, after Acain made the decision to sing for a crowd, it changed his life.
After spending time around the multi-talented Acain, fellow student Britlyn Smith, said, “His [Acain’s] life revolves around his creativity. The people he connects with, the things he prioritizes and the joy that he exudes in his personality all reflect his creative outlets and the life they allow him to have.” Smith is a sophomore majoring in English from Phoenix, Arizona.
Acain is majoring in information technology and became popular within the Laie community for his musical and photography talents.
Music in the McKay
Acain shared in past semesters, he conducted jam sessions in a small hallway in the David O. McKay building. “People knew where I was at night,” Acain said, adding he chose this location for its powerful echoes when he sings. Because of the echoes in the hall, he said, people would often stop by the jam sessions and join in.
Smith said she started attending the jam sessions a few times a week because of the welcoming spirit Acain and his friends shared. “He doesn’t just sing. He feels the music. You can see that when he sings,” she continued.
Abish Annly Baliwas, a sophomore majoring in anthropology and biology from the Philippines, said, “His voice is just flawless. The shape of the placement of his voice is very distinct. I know it's Kyle even if I hear his voice from far away. It's so effortless.”
Acain said, “Music is more than singing. It is a way for me to communicate with others. Every time I sing a song, it is for my girlfriend, even if she does not notice.”
Acain also has a band, Aninola, which he started with four friends from the Philippines. He said he and his friends plan to create an official music club at the university. Acain said he has found many good singers on campus during his nightly jam sessions. “The music club will be a good place to communicate with good singers or anyone who is into music." He added it could also be a place for people to "discover their talents with each other.”
Igniting the inspiration Acain explained his musical talent and passion began at home with his family. “My family is a musical family, and my father is my idol.” Growing up, Acain said his father always played classical music on a record player at home. Additionally, Acain said he was influenced by his older siblings who played guitar and piano.
When he began singing at 8 years old, Acain said his father, believing in his potential, frequently asked Acain to sing for him. When he was 14 years old, he followed his sibling’s footsteps and learned to play guitar. “I used to borrow my neighbor's guitar, but no one taught me how to play.” Acain said he learned the instrument by watching tutorials on YouTube.
Smith attested to his love for music and said, “His music is not just a hobby. It is seriously a part of his personality.” Acain added playing music with his friends provided him with more opportunities to help uncover his musical talent.
Photography hobby becomes a business Aside from music, Acain uses another form of artistic expression: photography. He said he began by taking pictures for fun with his phone. However, he shared the course of his photography changed when his co-worker asked him to take photos of a couple for their anniversary. Although he did the photoshoot for free, mainly for practice and experience, he said the couple really liked his photos and paid him for his work.
After gaining more experience, Acain said his friends began recommending him to others, and he was able to start a small photography business. He expressed how happy he was to be able to earn money through his hobby.
Jomar Gutierrez, a sophomore majoring in social work from the Philippines, said, “Even though I’m not good at posing as a model," Gutierrez said, Acain used good angles and lighting to create good photos of him. Even when Gutierrez was shy to pose, he said Acain laughed with him about it and helped him look more natural. Gutierrez said most of his posts on Instagram were taken by Acain.
Smith said she noticed Acain is not afraid to start conversations with anyone.
He explained, “When I started the business, it was through only my connection[s] - no advertising.” Acain added, “What I learned is that gaining connections is important before starting a business.”