Tiana Kocher: More Than Just an Opening Act
When we had Tiana Kocher up on the Xylo stage to open for A$AP Rocky a few months ago, a ton of people were surprised to know that she was actually Filipino. Cristiana “Tiana” Ponce Enrile Kocher was raised in Manila until she had to move to the United Kingdom to study musical theatre at 17. She was in school for two years and has been living in sunny and entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles, since then.
“I’m very excited to be working in the entertainment capital of the world. LA. Literally anyone you meet is somebody. It’s just so nice to be part of such a creative space. And to be surrounded with artists,” the 20-year-old shares.
Some would say that Tiana was “groomed” to become an artist, given her family’s background in the local industry. Back when she was still a kid, Tiana was able to play a gazillion instruments. Now though, she carries around a ukelele most of the time. “Right now, it’s my favorite instrument to play because I’m a small person and also it’s easy to bring, it’s easy and it’s fun!”
To say that music is in her blood might be an understatement. “Growing up I always sang and my mom always made sure to expose me to the arts so she put me in ballet classes, musical camps,” she spills. All of which, she says she never took seriously until she had to apply for Musical Theatre school.
While she could have easily have launched her whole career here in Manila, she says that her studies come first. “I actually tried to. I did but I never did it the commercial way. I released an EP on SoundCloud and I worked with Marcus Davis, (who has worked with Kiana Valenciano, Donny Pangilinan, and more). I have eight or so songs done by him but I never released it as a thing because I was still in high school.”
Early last year, a friend of Tiana’s mom asked for Tiana to record some demos and the Tiana Kocher we now see and hear was born. Her R&B sound is fresh and now with the right dash of sultry. A far cry from what would have been expected of her from Musical Theatre studies. Tiana describes it as “pretty hyped, heavy base and very contemporary R&B.”
With one year in the industry, Tiana is a force one simply doesn’t scroll past. During her first Grammy weekend in LA, she and her team was invited to perform for the Pre-Grammy Soiree.
“It was for voting members of the Academy so a lot of important people. I was very, very nervous performing but it worked out really well!” she shares.
Her second single Swing Batter, was also featured in a Ciroc commercial in the movie What Men Want. With all these performances under her belt, we asked if she was still nervous to open for A$AP Rocky. Before we could even finish the question, “YES! YES! I’m so nervous!” she laughs. “It’s my first performance here and I’m technically not a local act so to make a good first impression is a big deal for me.” Spoiler: she did not disappoint!
Aside from weeks of practice and preparation, Tiana has a couple of pre-performance rituals to make sure she kills it on-stage. She cites a warm-up, warm water with lemon or tea, a throat pastille from the UK called Vocal Zone (artists take it just to open up their nasal cavity she shares) and a prayer as we weapons of choice.
“I always pray! Always pray before anything. Pray before shoot, red carpet, press events, performance, it just gives me peace of mind,” she smiles.
However, to think that Tiana just gets up on stage to sing and dance is an understatement. It would be an underestimation of her skill. Tiana is more than just a performer, she’s also the brains and brawn behind the whole Tiana Kocher brand. “When we have shows and music video shoots, I actually style everything! I’m the one fitting my dancers or myself. I’ll be the one buying the clothes, everything! That’s what I do in my spare time,” she says. She’s in every production meeting, she creates the mood boards, TL;DR? She is what makes her career tick.
If she wasn’t performing, she shares that she would be styling instead. “I would be styling or working with some charity for dogs! I have eight Corgis and four Japanese Spitzes. I grew up with dogs my entire life. Ever since I was born there was a dog in our house and that’s how it’s been. I do miss them a lot when I’m in LA, they’re my babies. But I also have a corgi back in LA, Lil A$AP Ferg,” she shares. Which is pretty ironic considering Tiana’s opening for A$AP Rocky. Sources share that her other dogs are named Kehlani (also performed in The Palace!) and Tequila.
After talking about her family’s rap-named dogs, we asked her about her music heroes. She spills that she’s always listened and still to this day listens to 90s, early 2000s R&B.
“Aaliyah, Tamia, Brandy, Monica, TLC, En Vogue, so you know them. I’m like wooooow,” she shares with so much awe. A lot of these played a role in Tiana’s R&B sound. Surprisingly though, she also has some classical music on her playlist. “Beethoven or Bach. I love classical music. My grandmother, she’s a classical opera singer so it’s very nostalgic,” Tiana remembers.
Currently, she’s listening to Tone Stiff, Georgia Smith, Mable, The Internet, and more underground and independent artists. “They’re all underground and independent and I’m an independent artist myself, I just love supporting other people like me.” However, she cites that heroes and current playlists aside, her biggest inspiration is herself. “I just try not to copy anybody. I don’t want to copy anybody. I’m just myself. I draw inspiration from myself.”
We also asked her about what she thinks is the main difference of the creative community in LA vs. MNL. “In LA, you kinda just do one thing and venture on until the end. Me, I’m focusing on perfecting my craft in music then venturing off into something else,” she points out, which is a polar opposite from what she’s seen in the local industry.
“From what I’ve seen and experienced here, especially from what I’ve seen in showbiz, they just kind of expect you to sing, dance, and act… You know, just all together. And sometimes that’s not really the best. Some people just can’t do a two-step, some people can’t act, but can sing. So I wouldn’t force somebody something they don’t want to, it’s a waste of time.”
TL;DR? Better to be the best at one thing than be half-baked at everything.
A lot of the Tiana Kocher brand can be described as a glossy, top-notch, no-hair-out-of-place type of performer. Her music videos are perfectly manicured and ready for its spot on the Top 10 Daily Chart. It’s far from what you would expect from a newbie in the music industry. Paint The Town shows us a dream night out in Vegas, while Just My Type even has cameos from Rob Schneider (#PinoyPride) and Marlon Wayans (Yes, she is a fellow White Chicks fan!). Tiana Kocher a fun and relatable persona that any girl would want to be friends with. Tiana’s IG though, shows us a more lowkey and raw version of Tiana. No makeup, 20-year-old, jumping from LA to Manila, living her life, but still leaving a mark in the world.
“Personally, I just wanna be performing. I honestly don’t care about the fame and fortune. I just want to be out there, sharing my gift and inspiring people. I’m not the type of person to wear a lot of or even any makeup,” Tiana shares.
What’s next for this act after opening for A$AP Rocky and performed in the Pre-Grammy Soiree? Tiana shares that she would love to book a tour and travel the world with her team. But the ultimate stop would have to be Coachella or Lollapalooza for this young and thriving artist. With dreams, dope music, and a dream team right behind her Tiana earns a follow and subscribe in our book. We look forward to the day Tiana Kocher is no longer an opening act but a headliner on her own—she deserves it!
“As a kid, you always believed that anything was possible. So as an adult, have that same mind set, you have to believe that you can do anything.”– Tiana Kocher.
Production & Creative Direction by: Nigel Garcia (@nigelgarciaaa)
Assisted by: Stevie Eigenmann (@stevieeigengirl)
Photographed by Lloyd J.
Words and Interview by Patricia Herboalrio (@littlemissteapat)
Styled by: Publicize (@publicize_ph)
Make-Up by: Nate Javier (@missnatemakeup)
Hair by: Apple Alviar
Layout by: Paula Gisala (@paulagisala)
Shot on location at Yes Please.