Scenezoned: New Beginnings with Kiana Valenciano
New beginnings can happen any day and any time but there’s something particularly refreshing about a brand new year. Some may argue that time is nothing but a social construct and ringing in the new year is a meaningless celebration to give us a false sense of a fresh start. Yet while we agree that starting a new year is definitely not a guarantee of positive changes and self improvement, the dawn of the new year allows us to manifest everything we want to achieve for the next 52 weeks. It’s the start of a new road and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to take control of the wheels.
For singer-songwriter Kiana Valenciano, the fresh new year is more about nurturing, rather than changing. While the 27-year-old artist has big plans under her sleeves particularly flying to the US to chase her dream, 2020 is not about creating a new Kiana. It’s about continuously discovering, caring, and loving herself, something she learned to do the past year. “I really didn’t focus on having this big idea of a “new me” this year,” Kiana told /ESCAPE “During the end of 2019, I focused on self-reflection. Instead of being like “I need to change this change that,” I was just like “wow, I didn’t know this side of me before and now I do,”
After all, who needs a new me when you have worked so hard to be where you’re currently at? She continues: “Instead of focusing on things I want to change, I’m paying more attention to things that have changed and what I can do to nurture them. I’m just continuing the growth and I like it,”
In the first issue of Scenezoned for 2020, Kiana tells us where she’s been, where she’s at now, and where the year will take her.
/ESCAPE: Before we discuss your big plans for the new year, let’s talk about 2019. How was the past year for you?
Kiana: It was good. It was the year that I met myself, if that makes any sense. I was traveling a lot. And because I was traveling, there were many times that I was just by myself which made me confront certain things, behaviors, characteristics that I never realized I have, both negative and positive.
/ESCAPE: How was 2019 different from other years of your life?
Kiana: I think 2019 was really different for me because for the longest time, I was in such a rush to grow up. I always wanted to know what’s in store for me, what’s happening next or what’s gonna happen to my future. Now, this growth led me to embrace the present and appreciate the process. Of course, I still get anxious thinking about the future. But I’m now able to pull myself out of that and celebrate what I have now.
/ESCAPE: What’s your vision for the year 2020, for your personal life and career?
Kiana: As a person, I spent a lot of time trying to please a lot of people. I spent so much time worrying about sticking to a brand, an image that I knew people had of me. For 2020, my vision is to break out from that. I just want to focus more on my personal growth, needs, and wants, and less about what people think of me. As an artist, I think that will still be highly influenced on who I am as a person. It’s always going to be connected. Because my music changes and evolves as I evolve.
/ESCAPE: What’s something you learned in 2019 that you will carry and continue doing this 2020?
Kiana: In 2019, I learned how to appreciate the small things. I found beauty in the little things. I realized that these small things, when they accumulate, they become a big part of your life. I used to look past that but not anymore. That’s something I learned to do in 2019 which I’m sure I’ll be doing in the coming years.
/ESCAPE: In general, do new beginnings excite or scare you?
Kiana: A lot of things scare me. Of course I’m scared of making mistakes. But I think what I’m even more scared of is knowing what I’m supposed to do but ending up not doing it. New beginnings are always scary. Especially for me. But at the same time, it’s also very exciting. So it’s more of a conscious effort to focus on the positive side. I’m all for it. I appreciate change and growth. As scary as it is, I’m excited for it.
/ESCAPE: Let’s talk about you pursuing your music career outside the country. Have you always dreamed of doing this?
Kiana: I think I have always wanted to experience living outside the Philippines. I grew up here. I did travel a lot but I witnessed friends attending universities abroad and coming back with these amazing stories. So I knew at a young age that leaving was something I wanted to. Did I want it to be in the US? Definitely not. I thought I’d end up in Europe or somewhere in Asia but you know, my calling is to go to the States and I’ll go there.
/ESCAPE: How was the process of this decision? How did it happen?
Kiana: It was like signs. I was seeing signs that I needed to leave. I felt like I was stuck in a rut. I thought maybe a change of scenery or a change of pace would help. And it did. So slowly, I started to bring up the idea to my parents. But I think it really was my dad who got me seriously thinking of it. He said “I didn’t do it because I was scared. You should do it, so you don’t ever live with regrets” That really hit me. If I never try this, nothing will change. I mean I would still be happy here but I will always wonder what could have happened. \
/ESCAPE: You just released your latest single, Hide My Love. How is it different from your past singles?
Kiana: Compared to my past releases, you could tell that I was really guarded. With Hide My Love, I wanted to write this song that was just honest. When I wrote that song, I thought “This is what I’m feeling and I’m just gonna put it out there” At first, it was supposed to be a very romantic love song. But when I took it to the producer, he made this bass line that made the whole song very sensual.
/ESCAPE: Let’s talk about mental health. You’ve always been vocal about your struggle and the importance of mental health as an issue. How does it feel to be open about it to the public?
Kiana: The first time I talked about it, it was really freeing. And then it became hard because people started talking about how I didn’t have the right to feel what I feel. A lot of people would tell me that all I needed to do was change my outlook. And I tried. But then it made me feel bad for feeling bad. Mental illness is an illness. You can’t fix it on your own. When people are sad, strong people can pull themselves out of that. But it’s a different story for people with mental illness. They really need support, not just people who comfort you, but people who understand that you don’t want to feel this, but it’s there.
/ESCAPE: To give readers an idea, how do your bad days usually go?
Kiana: A bad day for me, I’m really at war with myself. I wake up and feel bad, not knowing why I feel that way. I realize that everything is going well and fine, which makes me feel worse because I feel like I’m so ungrateful for feeling this way. This voice in my head keeps telling me bad things like I’m spoiled, ungrateful, and nothing is ever going to change. During the bad days, it’s really a struggle to pull myself out of it. I will spend my whole day in bed or even if I’m out for work or with friends, it’s like you don’t see me. Because all of a sudden, it’s autopilot. I’m doing everything that I think people would want to see me do. But internally, there’s a struggle. Sometimes, I just want to go home. And cry. Why? I don’t know. In my head, it’s just like I just want to leave and go home and cry. That’s what’s usually going on in my head during bad days.
/ESCAPE: What can you say to people who joke about or invalidate mental health problems?
Kiana: In this day and age, there’s no excuse anymore. We have the whole world in our phones. But I understand that some people just make mistakes, or quick to judge, But all I can say is think before they speak because kindness is free. It pays to be kind and inform yourself and be more empathetic.
/ESCAPE: Have you written songs about this? Do you ever plan on releasing music that revolves around your mental struggles?
Kiana: I’ve written a lot about my struggle, and one day, I’ll get there [sharing it]. There’s Soldier, See Me, which are about my depression and anxiety. But when I’m ready, you will hear a lot more about it on my music.
/ESCAPE: What is something about your upcoming album that you’re very excited about?
Kiana: It’s with new producers. The sound is a little different from Does She Know, Misfits. Even the process of making the music is different. With the new music that’s coming, it’s just me expressing me and where I’m at now. It’s pure expression. I don’t think of whether it’s going to be a hit or how many plays it’s gonna get. This new music is just about “I like this. Let’s do it.”
/ESCAPE: What’s your escape?
Kiana: It used to be going to the beach, going out of town with friends, or going crazy. But I realized that because I’m doing that, I was just running away instead of confronting it. So now, when things go crazy, I come home to my parents. I run back home, and my parents know me, and they know my heart. So yeah, that’s my escape.
Produced and edited by Vani AltomonteArt
Photography by Mike Gella
Art Direction by Nigel Garcia
Layout by Francesca Lagmay
Styling by John Lozano
Make up by Carell Garcia
Hair styling by Jon Jonas Lucas
Words by Angelu Zafe
Videography by Keithleen Dicon
Production Coordination by Stevie Eigenmann
Shot on location at Rum Jungle at The Island
Special thanks to Manila Genesis Entertainment & Management Inc.