down the rab­bit hole

Af­ter years of stay­ing in the spot­light iana alen­ciano is nally bas ing in the mo­ment. We talk to the artist about her vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and mo­ti­va­tions that keep her go­ing.

Scout - - COVER STORY - Pho­tog­ra­phy by JOSEPH PAS­CUAL Styling by QUAYN PEDROSO Words by NIELLI MARTINEZ

IN CASE IT ISN’T ob­vi­ous, life does not come with an in­struc­tion man­ual. No one tells you that you’re go­ing to have to make some of life’s most cru­cial de­ci­sions be­fore you’re even old enough to legally drink liquor, or that you’re go­ing to in­vest so much of your time and emo­tions in peo­ple who will even­tu­ally just be­come strangers, or that you could be drowned by an over­whelm­ing wave of empti­ness, even at a time when ev­ery­thing in your life ap­pears to be in the right place. There are all these sit­u­a­tions that noth­ing and no one ever pre­pares us for, but we’re thrust into them any­way, and all we’re armed with is the knowl­edge that the only

In Kiana Valenciano’s case, no­body warned her about liv­ing a life that’s sub­ject to un­war­ranted crit­i­cism and the weight of other the child of a multi- hy­phen­ated, mul­ti­awarded icon like Mr. Pure En­ergy your own moves be­cause peo­ple will only end up com­par­ing them to his. “I was al­ways more care­ful about how I acted in pub­lic, even if it was just laugh­ing too loud or talk­ing too loudly with friends, be­cause I think was, ‘ Anak ka pa na­man ni Gary V,” Kiana re­calls. “He’s not just like an in­spi­ra­tional, that as his kid, peo­ple al­ways for­get that we’re all hu­man, and I guess it’s been a strug­gle ev­ery­one kind of has this per­cep­tion of who I’m meant to be.”

De­ter­mined to carve out her own path, Kiana pur­sued her other De­sign In­sti­tute with a de­gree in Fash­ion De­sign—even chas­ing that dream all the way to Lon­don, where she par­tic­i­pated in var­i­ous fash­ion work­shops for a whole sum­mer. It was there, how­ever, that she re­al­ized she couldn’t hide from the mu­sic much longer. “Just for fun, I recorded a song with a friend, and I thought, ‘ Okay, maybe if I stop run­ning away from this so much, maybe there’s some­thing there for me,’” Kiana re­counts.

It seemed there was no point in push­ing it away—not be­cause it was what peo­ple wanted her to do, but be­cause she knew deep down it was what she wanted, too. “When I started writ­ing songs, I couldn’t deny it any­more. I couldn’t pre­tend like I wasn’t meant to be do­ing this, so I kind of em­braced it and writ­ing songs. And I re­ally en­joyed her love for fash­ion re­mains a piv­otal part of who she is, Kiana has made the con­scious de­ci­sion to set it aside in or­der to make way for her mu­sic. “I think even­tu­ally I do want my own be­cause right now my whole heart is in the mu­sic and I don’t want to share that at­ten­tion. If I’m thriv­ing as a singer, as a song­writer, then I don’t wanna spread my­self too thin and my mu­sic will suf­fer. Right now, I’m re­ally fo­cused on mak­ing sure that

Cit­ing the likes of Janet Jack­son, Aaliyah, Christina Aguil­era, and Usher mu­sic, the 25- year- old singer is, in many ways, fast be­com­ing one of the voices of her gen­er­a­tion. With her 2017 hit Does She Know— now a sta­ple track in to­day’s party playlists, let’s be real—and the more soul­ful four­track EP “Grey” un­der her belt, she’s re­solved to make mu­sic that is all at once au­then­tic and un­apolo­getic.

mu­sic was in his time. I don’t have to star out there—but I just want to leave my mark. I think I al­ways knew that if I was gonna do mu­sic, I had to be my­self be­cause I didn’t want mu­sic to end up be­ing some­thing that I wanted to es­cape from. My mu­sic is my es­cape. My words are things that I can’t speak to peo­ple, and so I write it down and I sing it.”

Like any other artist, Kiana al­lows her­self to be­come vul­ner­a­ble in or­der to be able to cre­ate bet­ter, more song that goes “the voices tell me I’m not ready for it”—a line she claims best de­scribes her true self. Kiana will that no mat­ter how smooth things may seem on the sur­face, she’s still a con­fused wan­derer who en­coun­ters ma­jor ob­struc­tions along the way.

Ear­lier this year, she took to so­cial me­dia to open up about strug­gling

of years ago—an ad­mis­sion that was prompted by some­body ask­ing about a small tat­too etched on the back of her neck. “I was with my friends, I think they were in my apart­ment. I took a shower, and my neck was burn­ing, had to take a pic­ture, and it turns out, I was re­ally stressed out and any time I was stressed, I was scratch­ing, and I do have like a few scars, but that’s why To­day, Kiana’s scars are sto­ries—no longer bad ones, but ones she can share so peo­ple know they’re not know they don’t have to.

“You know, you never re­ally think that there’s some­thing wrong with you, es­pe­cially in this day and age when on so­cial me­dia, so that makes you feel like ‘ Okay, ev­ery­one un­der­stands.’ But at the same time, no one un­der­stands,” a quiet sort of re­silience, but her voice be­trays her a lit­tle as she cracks let­ting me know that some days still feel as heavy as they did back in 2016. “I don’t know how to talk about it be­cause I’m still go­ing through it, and ev­ery day it’s like a con­stant strug­gle to just find a rea­son to fight. But then you have to re­mind your­self that you can’t be self­ish, and even if it gets hard, so many peo­ple love you. And it helps at that point where I didn’t mes­sage any­one for days, and I just felt like I was stuck, glued to my bed. But the mo­ment I opened up and started talk­ing about it, I wouldn’t say it got eas­ier, but to have a sup­port sys­tem that knows what you’re go­ing through? It helps,” she adds.

Un­for­tu­nately, be­ing a pub­lic Philip­pines—means that ob­servers ei­ther feel like you owe it to them to dis­close de­tails of your per­sonal life, or know it’s none of their busi­ness but will feel en­ti­tled to their own (of­ten harsh) opin­ions any­way. “In my ear­lier days, it would re­ally get to me, be­cause I kind of en­joyed be­ing semi­in­vis­i­ble and not hav­ing to worry was Gary V’s daugh­ter, but no­body ques­tioned my char­ac­ter [and there about it at one point be­cause they would point out all the lit­tle things about me that I knew I didn’t like. I was like, ‘Oh my God, are they, like, in my head? How do they know to say these things?’ And it took a lot of me deal­ing with it alone in my room, just look­ing ‘ You’re not ugly, though. You’re not!’ But you know, you read it enough and you start to be­lieve it.” Kiana’s had some of the most atro­cious com­ments thrown at her, from be­ing called “pa- cool” in one in­stance, to be­ing told “your dad should die” in an­other, but af­ter all that she’s been through, she knows bet­ter than to let key­board war­riors get un­der her me down the street, they would not have any­thing to say to me. If given the chance, they’d prob­a­bly wanna hang out. Like, not even with me but with the peo­ple I’m hang­ing out with. Like, what’s the point? They’re just more about them than me.”

Veer­ing away from neg­a­tiv­ity, Kiana in­stead fo­cuses her en­ergy on bet­ter­ing her­self. For­get the fact that she’s col­lab­o­rated with most of the mu­si­cians she’s ever hoped to work with, that she’s graced the pages of count­less mag­a­zines, or that she has re­ceived praises for her mu­sic at the best work so far has noth­ing to do with her ca­reer and ev­ery­thing to do with her self-im­age. “I think my great­est achieve­ment is that I’m learn­ing to ac­cept my­self. It’s just hap­pened over the past few months where I’m re­ally learn­ing to just ac­cept who I am, which is why my lyrics are more vul­ner­a­ble,” she shares.

was in such a rush to grow up, this Kiana—this stronger, more cen­tered ver­sion—re­fuses to re­main hung up on the past or to get caught up in the un­cer­tainty of the fu­ture. She would much rather slow down, em­brace the present, and ap­pre­ci­ate mo­ments for they may be. “I think as mil­len­ni­als, and go­ing on so­cial me­dia, it’s so easy peo­ple are get­ting. The best thing is to just turn off your phone, read a book, put on your fa­vorite se­ries, you know what I mean? Just shut ev­ery­thing out and just be grate­ful,” she says. “I want to reach that point where I’m just so grate­ful. Be­cause I am, but some­times we for­get. I just wanna be so grate­ful that no mat­ter what comes my way, I’m able to just take the bad things as a les­son and take the good things as a lit­tle present.”

Ei­ther art is im­i­tat­ing life or life is im­i­tat­ing art: in any case, Kiana Valenciano’s life now mir­rors the cryp­tic Alice in Won­der­land movie snip­pet she once posted on her In­sta­gram feed. “Hmm. I won­der which way I ought to go,” the photo says, and while oth­ers might con­sider this sce­nario a dilemma, Kiana sees an op­por­tu­nity to grow and make great things hap­pen. “I don’t even know where I’m gonna be to­mor­row,” she lets out with a laugh, and then I re­al­ize that that might not be such a bad thing. “I feel like I’m just get­ting started, and I’m re­ally get­ting to know who I am as an artist and I’m hav­ing the most I can’t even be­gin to imag­ine where I’m gonna be. Hope­fully I’ve made my mark by then.” There’s no way to tell where Kiana could end up half a decade from now, but I think that’s re­solve and re­newed sense of self, some­thing tells me she’s go­ing to be

Kiana, if you see this—and I know that you will—let me put this in writ­ing for you to re­visit any­time you need a re­minder: The voices are wrong. You’re as ready as you’ll ever be.

Af­ter all, if you read some­thing enough, you start to be­lieve it, right?

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