Filipino Neo-soul/Future R&B artist Kiana V may have only recently signed with Filipino focused record label PARADISE RISING (sister label to mass media company 88rising for breakout acts such as Rich Brian, Joji and NIKI in a cross collaboration with Globe Telecom), but the 27-year-old songwriter who describes herself as ‘quirky, complicated & joyful’ is a household name in the Philippines building her mark on the global stage.
“I want to be remembered for someone that is able to be herself – be it in person or online, because that’s not easy. I just want to be as real as I can be, because I notice that when I’m not, it causes problems for me and everyone around me,” expresses the Manila born songstress whose silky smooth vocals are a signature throughout her records.
“I think that whatever way you feel comfortable expressing yourself is a way that you should be expressing yourself. Representation is such an important step for artists. Where would we be if we hadn’t seen or worked with someone that pushed us to keep going? Those who feel a little discouraged are able to feel a little bit more hopeful knowing that if he or she from my city did it, I think I can too,” claims the ‘Favourite Female Artist’ nominee from the 32nd Awit Awards in the Philippines in 2019.
Even with an influential parentage as the daughter of Filipino pop icon Gary Valenciano, Kiana remains adamant at striking it out on her own. Though she is in the early stages of defining herself, her organic love for R&B inspired by the likes of Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah and Brandy form the root of her songwriting craft. A highly empathic individual who recently completed reading ‘Talent Is Never Enough‘ by Dr. John C. Maxwell, she reflects on a recent revelation, “What I am learning right now is to not be too stuck in a certain way, or getting used to something too much because things are changing so much daily. I am trying to learn how to adapt.“
Her debut single ‘Safe Place‘ with PARADISE RISING was written 2 years ago in a time when the singer-songwriter was caught up in her head in a state of internal reflection. “The song is about a situation where you really wanted something to work, and it didn’t. Even after it failed, I was constantly in that state of mind of ‘What if I had done this? What if you had done that? Would we still be able to get through it or still be together?“
On looking back at her love life and romance, the fashion graduate from Raffles Design Institute in London highlights the importance of being mentally and emotionally ready to compromise and the critical need for gratefulness and surrendering the right to being first priority when building a relationship.
Even as Kiana finds her footing in defining her vision and musical identity, she expresses her gratitude for 88Rising’s direction and teamwork, confessing that ‘It’s inspiring to work with people who know exactly what they want and will do what they need to do to get the results they need to get.’ She humbly acknowledges her indecisiveness at times and is thankful for the clear vision the label provides that aids in her process of bringing her vision to life.
An artist who places narrative and storytelling at the forefront of her music, her process of songwriting comes through with lyrics first and is highly dependable on her emotional state of mind which would expound why the LA-based chanteuse has an evolving sound in all her releases. Taking pride in her opinions and beliefs, Kiana is conscientious about her collaborators and in juggling multiple hats like music, modelling and hosting, the mental health advocate remains prudent about the dynamics of her team.
Pursuing music professionally requires an artist to work their fingers to the bone, but the SXSW music artist has successfully built a support system – which includes her parents and her friends, the former being a huge source of inspiration and guidance. She shares about her struggles in navigating young adulthood and striking it out on her own:
I want to encourage anyone that’s struggling between growing up and trying to set some boundaries to remember that respect goes such a long way. You can disagree with something and present your opinions respectfully, and not have things turn into a ginormous fight.”
As she closes the interview, Kiana remarks on her core beliefs as an artist: “I believe in accountability, kindness and equality. A lot of people take advantage of ‘agreeing to disagree’ to express their opinion. For me, I try my best to be kind and put myself in other people’s shoes and imagine, ‘What would happen if I were in that situation? Would I be okay with this?”
Listen to Kiana V’s single ‘Safe Space’ off PARADISE RISING’s ‘semilucent‘ mixtape now.