Hidden Beats

We Are Story Tellers

Today our Spotlight – Clarissa Diokno. We recently sat down with Clarissa to talk about her music and the journey to get there. Her newest release “Bad” out now it’s a great showcase of her vocal talent and catchy music. Check it out now!

Today we have the upcoming dark-pop superstar Clarissa Diokno with us. Would you like to give a quick introduction to our readers?

Howdy, I’m Clarissa! I love music, and I’m so happy I made the leap to start sharing mine with the world. I love writing songs about my feelings, experiences, and whatever is on my mind. It’s super cool (and sometimes scary) to release these songs into the world, but I’m having a lot of fun doing it, and I want to continue doing it for a long time.

Do you remember the moment you realized you wanted to be a singer/songwriter?

It kind of just happened. Songwriting is something I dabbled in 10 years ago with my first band, then I sang in a cover band for a few years and hadn’t written a song in a long time. I wanted to get more creative and thought about getting back into songwriting. I already knew that I loved to sing, so why not sing my own story instead of someone else’s? I was actually inspired by the journey of all the other independent artists around me. I love feeling inspired.

The single cover for “BAD” feels very 2000’s pop-punk inspired. Is this the intended image? What were the influencers?

That’s super cool you think that! I can totally see that now (so no, it wasn’t intended). We were going for an edgy, grungy vibe. Fun fact, that image was actually shot three years ago with an awesome photographer named Lee Zavitz for his YouTube video. It wasn’t meant to be for my music. In fact, I didn’t even have any original songs at that time. After I recorded “BAD”, I immediately knew I wanted to use that image for the artwork. I think it fits perfectly with the mood and theme of the song.

Who is the intended audience for your new song “BAD?” If you had to choose a genre or artist to compare it to how would you describe it?

“BAD” is intended for anyone who wants to listen to it. I poured my heart into this song, and I want the listener to take whatever they need from it. It’s definitely a pop song with a dark undertone. Before I released it, I actually asked a bunch of people (strangers, friends, and internet friends) if “BAD” reminded them of other songs and artists that they’ve heard. Some songs they mentioned were “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore, “Banshee” by Kendra Morris, and “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS in the style of Bishop Briggs.

How was writing this song? Did the lyrics and music come easy or was it a long process?

“BAD” was both the easiest and most difficult song I’ve ever written if that even makes sense. I was sitting on my couch with my keyboard playing a D minor chord, and the chorus just flowed right out of me. It’s interesting because I’ve never written a chorus first. I would always start with the verses and then have trouble when it came to writing a hooky chorus. I feel like I got lucky with this one. It was during a pretty sad time in my life, which is why it was difficult, but at the same time, everything I was feeling just poured right out of me so effortlessly. It is currently my favorite song I’ve written so far.

“BAD” was your first ever music video! How was directing and performing in that?

I have to give a huge shout-out to the Director, Nick Dragas, and his entire team. I told Nick every little detail about the song and some ideas I had for particular shots that I wanted to include. I didn’t get super specific because I wanted to give him the creative freedom to build a visual story from the details I provided. The concept of the music video is the “real world” (what’s happening in reality) vs. the “abstract world” (my internalized feelings). For the real-world scenes, we went for an outdoor, urban environment with neutral tones and high contrast. For the abstract world scenes, since we are representing all my internalized feelings, we wanted it to be full of color so we included projection lighting and geometrical shapes to show the craziness within my mind. By the end of the video, the real world and abstract world collide, rapidly cutting between the two to represent a high-energy, chaotic environment.

I had a blast performing in this music video! I used to always be extra in other artists’ music videos so it was really cool to star in my own. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of creatives to work with. I would also like to acknowledge that this music video was made possible in part by the City of Kitchener and Centre in the Square. They awarded 14 grants to different artists in our city to support local music, and I am so grateful to be one of those artists.

Your covers on YouTube range through the most genres possible. From country, pop, alternative, and rock, you are extremely multitalented. Are these all genres that inspire you? How do you choose which covers to perform?

I love all kinds of music and never want to confine myself to one genre. I think being in a cover band for a few years helped expand my repertoire. I choose songs that I enjoy singing or songs that I think I sing well, and sometimes I choose songs that have been requested in my live streams.

Are the YouTube streams coming back or have you opened a new chapter in your career?

I still stream twice weekly on a platform called Sessions. Even though live gigs are back, virtual shows are here to stay so I will continue live streaming to keep in touch with the fan jam and keep my vocal cords in shape.

You’re quite the virtual show performer. Having performed tons of virtual shows over the last year, what is your secret to making them so successful?

My virtual shows are an interactive experience where I sing covers, share my original music, take song requests, and chat about everyday life. It’s a fun and safe space where people can be themselves with no judgment, make new friends, tell stories, laugh, and listen to music. I think it’s an incredible way to meet music lovers from all over the world, make new friends and fans, and practice singing. It’s also cool because I usually give sneak peeks of new, original material before releasing them into the world.

Now that you have two singles out in the world, what is next for Clarissa? Is there an EP or LP on the horizon?

The next single is currently in the works! I think I’m going to continue releasing singles for now. I want to grow my catalog a bit more on streaming platforms as well as expand my fanbase before I release a larger body of work. When I feel I’ve come up with a solid, cohesive theme I will definitely release an EP, hopefully within the next couple of years. I’m not in a rush. I do have an idea that is constantly popping up in my mind, but I’ll keep that a secret for now.

Usually, Canadian artists tend to relocate to Toronto. What is the secret behind the music scene in your hometown of Kitchener? Think you’re staying put for the time being?

I’m originally from Thornhill, but I’ve been living here for 13 years. I just love the community aspect of Kitchener. There’s a nice, small music scene here. I think it’s a lot easier to stand out in a smaller city. If I was living in Toronto doing the same thing, I think I would feel lost in the crowd. I love living in Kitchener, and I am definitely staying put for a while.

We saw you did a Waterloo free treats tour on your Instagram! How did you hear about that? Are you a big sweets person?

There’s a company that reaches out to me that I’ve been collaborating with for a few months now, and they’ve been partnering with businesses in the Waterloo Region to give out free treats to those who sign up with their platform. I don’t often do brand collaborations, but when I do I make sure it’s something that resonates with me or something I think my audience would like. A lot of people know me as a foodie so most of my collaborations are food-related. I’m actually more into savory stuff than sweets, but of course, I have to fulfill my sweet tooth sometimes!

You have been performing with bands for years. How does it feel to be breaking out as a solo artist?

It feels absolutely incredible! I do miss performing with a band though because it’s so much fun sharing the stage with other musicians and just rocking out. But, it is really cool to perform solo and still give that same impactful energy to the performance and at the end be like, “Wow, I did that…. all by myself.” It’s a wonderful and rewarding feeling.

From your huge acting repertoire, what film, show, or commercial excites you the most? Which one do you tend to “flex” to others? (Personally, I think being an extra on Scott Pilgrim is the coolest thing ever.)

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was actually the first movie set I’ve ever worked on in 2009. I was on set for two weeks, and it was such a blast. I met a lot of cool people, hung out with some of the cast, and got to see what it’s like behind the scenes of a movie. Besides flexing that, I also like telling people about the time I got hired as a mother for a diaper commercial for two very big brands. I was actually shocked they chose me because I didn’t think I gave off any motherly vibes at all, and this was after three auditions! I got to hold a baby for many hours which made my wrists pretty sore, but it was such an awesome experience.

Was it scary to take that leap of faith and go all-in on music?

It was both scary and exciting. I grew up believing that music was just a hobby and that I had to work a corporate job or some kind of job with stable income and benefits. I had an office job for a while, but it became tiresome and I needed something more fun and creative. Life is short so I say do what you love and love what you do. Dream big, believe in yourself, put in the work, and don’t give up. You will get to where you want to be if you’re disciplined and consistent. I’m all in, baby!

Our Spotlight – Clarissa Diokno has come to an end. I want to thank Clarissa for taking the time to chat.

Check out Bad out now!

Keep up with all things Clarissa right here

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