BP Valenzuela Evolves as an Artist in Manila’s Indie Scene
During a mini-vacation at Puerto Galera last year, BP Valenzuela missed the first night of Malasimbo Festival. So instead of dancing until the sun came up, she – along with Felipe a.k.a. DJ Bano – collaborated their efforts and created what is now one of her most catchy and ear-gasmic singles, “bbgirl.”
Released in 2017, the 3-minute banger plays like a soft-spoken “Wyd?” text to someone you’re trying to get to know; but for Valenzuela, it was her bold and unique way of coming out as queer.
“I wouldn’t even put pronouns in all of the music I would produce before, ‘cause I just didn’t think people would react very well,” she recalls.
This spark of bravery – a much-needed response to how women are perceived in the Philippines’ media industry – resulted in a musical awakening within her.
“I was just sick of it. I started being a lot more vocal and a lot more outspoken,” she says. “And naturally I just felt like that courage came through in the kind of music I wanted to produce.”
Since then, the electronic producer and singer has successfully paved her path in the indie scene and continues to grow as both an artist and as a woman.
Valenzuela, who got her start in music while attending Ateneo de Manila University, has been writing lyrics since she was a little girl.
When she was only 12 years old, Valenzuela walked into a studio alone to record the songs she had written. Because of the staff’s lack of cooperation with the then-preteen, she ended up leaving with more motivation and a solo go-getter attitude. “I was telling him to cut all these things and edit all these things and he wasn’t listening to me,” she said. “So, I was just like ‘Okay, if no one’s gonna listen to me, I’m just gonna do it myself.’”
Her first album titled the neon hour, which dropped in 2015, features 11 solid tracks that range eclectically in tone and cadence. And although the project presents a shyer and slightly more hesitant version of her, it still speaks true to who she was.
“When I listen to my old music, I just wanna slap myself in the face cause it’s just – sometimes things that are supposed to – things that you think are hard are very easy. And things you think are easy are very hard,” she explains. “Like sometimes you wanna do all those – you kinda wanna immerse yourself in what you think love is. But then, at the end of the day, it’s just keeping what you promised.”
Each song – written by Valenzuela herself – plays like a late-night confession of infatuation individually but as a whole narrates the ups and downs of naive and selfless love, which to her, is defined as showing up and sticking around.
Now, anticipating her sophomore release, the singer-songwriter is enlightened with a fresh and unapologetic perspective. “I didn’t need to explain myself to other people and just really didn’t have to dilute it too,” she says. Unlike her debut album, crydancer will feature a more mature version of Valenzuela, who isn’t afraid to pour more of her honest thoughts into her sound.
After dropping “bbgirl,” a single off of crydancer, she received positive feedback for the authenticity interwoven within her wistful lyricism.
“There’s not a lot of opportunities to express yourself that way. And I just realized I’m not gonna wait for anyone to make me feel better about it,” she remembered. “Everyone was really nice about it. Actually… I had no idea why I was freaking out.”
“They would message me and then they would tell me things like ‘Thank you for doing this.’ Or ‘it was hard for me to accept who I was and I’m glad you’re vocal about it.’ And there’s another person who was like I made out to your song. And I was just like, ‘Yes, that’s my favorite response.’”
This sorry-not-sorry approach is exactly what the Philippines has been waiting for. Because of its predominantly Catholic foundation, LGBTQ+ rights have not been given the attention they deserve. Thus far, there have not been any bills passed related to same-sex marriage.
“I guess it just comes naturally for them to feel very strongly about it. But normally, they don’t really feel that way when it comes to entertainers,” she said. “Queerness or gayness in general is just like ‘I accept you, but I don’t really wanna talk about it.’ You know what I mean? There’s not really legislation pushing for equality, but I think we’re still starting with representation in the media.”
Despite the fact that the Philippines has not moved forward politically, in the past few years, Valenzuela has seen a change towards the right direction. Last year, she witnessed a Smart commercial starring a gay couple. “It was really awesome and really nice. It just showed me that we’ve come a long way. If you told me ten years ago that that happened, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
She continued with, “It’s really like nice to see, cause I didn’t grow up with that kind of acceptance. I think people – whether they’re older or teens – they are a lot more receptive to what’s different.”
Although it’s been a long-awaited two years of working on crydancer, the artist says it’s about 80% complete. “I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Cause you can release your debut album and people will be okay with it,” she clarifies. “But then it’s the sophomore record that really fucks you up. I mean, really makes life hard for you. You have to fulfill all these expectations.”
On Sept. 15, as part of Undiscovered SF’s “Manila Rising” showcase, Valenzuela will be flying from Manila to perform next to CRWN, Rhxanders, and LUSTBASS.
“I mean it’s just a natural outpouring of how I feel and how I feel about myself – good or bad. So, I’m glad it gets to people. If you told me I’d be playing in San Francisco ten years ago, I wouldn’t believe you either.”
If you're in the Bay Area, go see her perform live Saturday, 9/15/18 at UNDSCVRD SF at 401 Minna St in Soma Pilipinas! FREE RSVP at undiscoveredsf.com