Her best moves

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - AS­SIS­TANT ED­I­TOR Niza G. Mar­iñas ED­I­TOR Mimi M. Li­jauco DE­SIGNER Jet S. Gari­gade

SHEisn’t what you would ex­pect from the sul­try singer be­hind the vi­ral song and widely-watched com­edy videos. Truth be told, a se­ri­ous au­di­ence would be sur­prised to find out that the lady—small frame, sparkling eyes, sig­na­ture thick brows and all— ex­udes a child­like vibe. Karen Ann Cabr­era a.k.a. Karencitta ruled the air­waves

early this year with her hit, “Fck­roun.” Cu­ri­ous lis­ten­ers were en­am­ored by her sooth­ingly cool voice and the Bisaya rap song’s in­fec­tious, jazzy rhythm and come-hither lyrics.

It was by fate that Karencitta be­came the pas­sion­ate per­fomer that she is to­day. Like most as­pir­ing artists await­ing that one big break, she was mak­ing mu­sic and pur­su­ing her stud­ies in LA, where is based with her fam­ily, when she got a call from Grammy award-win­ning song­writer and pro­duce Jon In­goldsby. Since that fate­ful meet­ing—“ev­ery­thing just aligned,” then came in­vites for her to per­form back in her coun­try. She has quite a steady on­line fol­low­ing now.

It was a pleas­ant sur­prise when Karencitta re­vealed that she once took a shot at a pageant for child beauty queens in pop­u­lar noon­time show “Eat Bu­laga,” a stint she re­calls with fond­ness and grat­i­tude.

Here, she talks about her be­gin­nings and mak­ing a mark in the in­dus­try.

Is this some­thing that you re­ally wanted, do­ing mu­sic and your own kind of com­edy?

In all hon­esty, I never saw my­self act­ing. I al­ways loved and wanted to do mu­sic. When I was four, I did join Lit­tle Miss Philip­pines in “Eat Bu­laga” I was one of the fi­nal­ists. I won Miss Friend­ship, too.


Opo. I re­mem­ber my fel­low con­tes­tants back then were Aiza Seguerra and Kim Domingo... Yes, I was in their batch. I do re­mem­ber I was the youngest among the con­tes­tants. Even­tu­ally ni­hunong ko og show­biz and ni­ba­lik ko og skwela, ba­lik dayon mi diri sa Cebu.

What do you re­mem­ber about the ex­pe­ri­ence in the noon­time show?

I re­mem­ber na I was the only con­tes­tant nga ni­hunong og per­form dur­ing the tal­ent com­pe­ti­tion. Lit­er­ally, I froze. Ni­hunong ko og sayaw on live tele­vi­sion and that was to the tune of Brit­ney Spears’ “Some­times. “


Be­cause I saw my mom there, stage mom kaayo siya. So when the cam­era was on me, I just flashed this child­ish look nga mura og, “Mama ba !” But I learned a lot from my “Eat Bu­laga” ex­pe­ri­ence. Even­tu­ally we came back here in Cebu and my par­ents en­rolled me in Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, from grade one to se­nior high. I grad­u­ated last 2013 then moved to the US.

Aside­from­mu­si­cand com­edy, what do you want to pur­sue?

I think that the course that I am pur­su­ing is like spir­i­tual sui­cide, be­cause I feel like I don’t be­long. Every­time I go to school, I feel like it’s not meant to be. Daghan kayo ko ug fail­ures sa classes, and I took this as a sign from God telling me na this is not meant for me. Mag­tuon baya gyud ko ug maayo and still I fail the tests. It’s weird, and so I feel na mas ni- suc­ceed ko an­ing mu­sic. Thank, God! Ev­ery­thing just fell into place. I think it’s the law of at­trac­tion, and I’ve al­ways loved to do pop. It so hap­pened that this year Grammy award­win­ner John In­goldsby took me un­der his wing, and I think that’s some­thing. I’m a firm be­liever in the law of at­trac­tion. It’s fate.

When did you re­al­ize that per­form­ing is go­ing to be your life?

That mo­ment when Jon In­goldsby reached out to me, and upon hear­ing our first sin­gle — that was a mon­u­men­tal mo­ment, I would say, a rev­e­la­tion. I mean, taga Lorega ra baya ko, and for him to in­vest on me on some­thing this big, di ba? Just the thought of work­ing with a Grammy awardee... Sur­real!

How is it to be col­lab­o­rat­ing with Jon In­goldsby, sound en­gi­neer for artists like Madonna, Lana Del Rey, El­ton John?

Like I said, sur­real. Ini­tially he emailed to in­tro­duce him­self as a Grammy award-win­ning pro­ducer, then told me that he wanted to meet up. At first I found it weird, I thought it was a scam... think­ing nga dili ta man­gadto niya uy. Unya ni­in­gon man akoang Papa nga ki­tai lang siya. It was weird be­cause we had to meet him in his house, he was then in­sis­tent ad­toa na maski sa Skype na lang pero it turned out okey ra man. In the end he was very le­git. He worked with Madonna, he even won Madonna’s Grammy win­ning al­bum in 1995. He worked on Brit­ney Spears’ com­mer­cials. He is cur­rently work­ing with Halsey, Eminem and Sab­rina Car­pen­ter.

He is a big fan of my com­edy videos daw. He even did im­i­tated my sig­na­ture move of pick­ing my nose. So, okey kaayo siya. Jam­ming ra kaayo .

Is it quite a chal­lenge for you to col­lab­o­rate, es­pe­cially since your songs are in Ce­buano?

I am just grate­ful be­cause we are work­ing on a num­ber of my sin­gles. For these songs I’m more on in­te­grat­ing the Ce­buano lan­guage and he is very open to the Visayan lan­guage, see­ing it as some­thing new and which will re­ally pop here, l ocally. Of my pre­vi­ous sin­gles, though at times dili siya makasabot, he is very sup­port­ive, magpa -trans­late lang siya, but true enough, his ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the lo­cal vibe and lan­guage is there.

What keeps you do­ing what you’re do­ing ?

The Philip­pines. Pres­i­dent Duterte. He in­spires me. Mu­si­cally, I am in­spired by Amy Wine­house, for her voice. I am also in­spired by Bob Mar­ley, for his mes­sage to the world, for him to sing in a peace rally then two days af­ter that per­for­mance he was shot. Why was he shot when he stood for world peace? So when an artist makes an im­pact that’s when I value the artists the most. I love Michael Jack­son for his work ethic, I re­spect him for that and un­til now his mu­sic is still played. That’s what I would like to achieve. I also like Ken­drick La­mar. But I think Bey­once is the best per­former of our era. Bey­once, when she is up on stage... she sings, dances, jumps and twerks, all in high heels! Bilib kaayo ko!

What mes­sage do you want to im­part to the au­di­ence via your songs and videos?

To em­brace who you are. To not be afraid to speak up. Naka- no­tice ko nga kasagaran sa mga babaye sa Pilip­inas re­served ra kayo. Nasak­i­tan sila, dili sila makatubag sa ilang ginikanan... I am not say­ing na you should rebel, but some­how you need to speak up. Make your voice heard, have an opin­ion or some­thing. And to ed­u­cate your­self also, as well as re­spect your par­ents and ayaw’g kalimot ug sang­pit sa Gi­noo. There’s al­ways a bal­ance to things.

What’s an or­di­nary day like for you?

In the US, I go to school on an ac­cel­er­ated pro­gram. It ’s a con­densed 11 weeks of study thus I re­ally have to study all day. Af­ter that I make time to go to the stu­dio. I write my songs, record. Usa­hay if I have noth­ing to do I go home and sleep for two to four hours. I per­son­ally up­date my so­cial me­dia. I do com­edy videos and con­tent cre­at­ing, KARENCITTA 18

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