Once actively running away from the world she grew up in, with a passion so inherently her, Kiana Valenciano settles into her next chapter, more than ready to stand out and sing, ultimately making us feel.
The red-drenched Today x Future in Cubao, a hole-in-the-wall bar that shifts between a weekday home base for its over a decade-long regulars-turned-family and weekend hangout enclave that blasts anything from your guilty pleasures, soundtracks of many phases of your life, and on particularly packed and sweat-induced nights, unapologetic dance ditties. Running the gamut of electro-indie, hip-hop, R&B, techno, jazz, disco, pop, and occasionally even experimental music, it definitely courses through the existence of this beloved space its patrons call home. On any given night, whether it is your jam or not, there will be music to sing to, lose yourself to, cry to, and yes, dance to.
With an uncharacteristically bare dance floor, still lingering from the drawl of the previous night’s mid-week hump day and the yet-to-come start of the weekend, I began to warm things up from the DJ’s booth with saucy, scintillating tunes that I felt befit the mood of the people scattered around the edges deep into the bar with their drink and chow of choice. After transitioning from Beldina’s What Can I Say to Kehlani’s Nights Like This, there was no other worthy follow-up to the unexpected narrative than Does She Know by Kiana Valenciano.
Opening up with a warped, pulsating rhythm that sparkles in its composition, she wastes no time lacing the intro with her warm, honeyed vocals and feisty lyrics (You got a lot of nerve baby / Coming up to me like I did you wrong / Acting like you own the world lately) that lets it be known almost immediately: Kiana is here, ready to stand out and tell stories in her own way.
“I think it was a form of rebellion, because my train of thought was: If you think that I’m gonna do that, I’m not. If you think that I’m gonna step in those shoes, nah,” she says, shaking her head that moves her tumble of hair to submission. “It didn’t feel like me then, so I really tried to do my own thing. It never crossed my mind that I could still do that in the music industry. I didn’t that even think that I was really meant to be in the same industry that I grew up in. What I wanted was to kind of paved my own way, for myself.” Besides, it wasn’t as if she completely kept music at bay while she pursued her other passion, fashion. Whatever was the circumstance, she was always just there, making music. “Music, is just a part of who I am, you know? I grew up in a house that revolved around music,” she says. “Whether it was paying attention to a certain beat or certain lyrics; it’s second nature to me. It’s just really part of who I am and it is an essential, like there’s food, water, sleep, breathing, and then there’s music. When I’m sad, I listen to music. When I’m happy, I listen to music. When I want to express myself, I make music.”
Listening to the music of Kiana Valenciano, one that has anchored her in life, there exists a strong sense of vulnerability that is true and unapologetic. “It’s a conversation for another time, but it really forced me to really think about what I’m getting myself into, it’s not just another career,” she says. “You’re vulnerable, you have to be vulnerable as an artist to write and to connect with the people that you’re singing to and for, and that took a lot of maturity on my end, I couldn’t just look at it as a game.” Taking refuge in her emotions has not only struck a sonorous chord with her audiences here and abroad, it has also helped her deal with the inevitable wave that being an adult crashes hard on you. “Like I said, I’m still dealing with a lot of personal stuff and finding out different ways to cope and be stronger, so I think that I deserve to give myself security and not get it from anyone else,” she divulges.
This form of expression that saw its genesis at home has now become an electrifying career and way of life for Kiana, and this time she’s all on board, completely throwing herself to the inexplicable pull of music—as she was perhaps destined for. “There was a time that I was running away from this as much as I could,” she reveals. “And I just kept on…I was just gravitating towards it, you know? No matter how much I tried to pull away, it encourages me to keep going.” Now, she has several singles and an EP (See Me) tucked under her belt, as well as creative collaborations and musical interfaces (recently performing side-by-side English R&B singer-songwriter Mahalia) to her name. And it doesn’t stop there, as there are many things mapped out on the horizon of her future that only confirms one thing: she is doing the right thing.
“There’s a lot of music coming,” she discloses. “This is a MEGA exclusive, but yes, I’m working on an EP now. I don’t wanna get ahead of myself, because I’m gonna get freaked out and curl into a ball, but right now, I’m just making sure that the music is good, and that I’m being honest and fingers-crossed, people will appreciate it.” Covering the scope of life from her point-of-view, the spark of music she hopes to release by the end of the year, which is high-voltage on its own accord, is a story of acceptance, moving on, and having—basically her year set to music.
Liberating herself from any expectations and preconceptions, Kiana Valenciano is setting out to be nothing but honest to her music and ultimately, herself. “Right now, I think I owe it to myself that I just create and do what I want to do,” she affirms. Incredibly vocal and vulnerable, she is only proud to wear her heart on her sleeve, opening up about how beneath the surface of cool, calm, and collected that she exudes, there exists a rumble of stress, anxiety, and even bouts of depression that have challenged her to soldier on. “I get in my head so much, and I get really anxious about the things that I shouldn’t be thinking about. I overthink the future sometimes and I think that I’m not good enough, but who am I comparing myself to?” she asks herself. “That’s the challenge though, it’s being able to focus on where you are and where you need to be and you take them day by day, because these are my dreams. I have to do it for myself when it comes to that.”
Growing up and experiencing things she didn’t expect to go through, Kiana Valenciano is all set for what lies ahead. Without sounding too prophetic, she is well aware of the strides it’ll take and the mountains she’ll have to climb, she has her game face on, raring to tell more stories in music, as she was always meant to.