Beyond the comfort zones of P-pop royalty, Felip wants to let you in on his complex world. Here, more than ever, he is keeping it real and raw, no holds barred.
Don’t let the quiet fool you, or so we are told. Often, it hints at something unsettling, like say in a gripping horror film, or more realistically, a sudden shift in a someone’s mood. But while people tend to dismiss the pervading mystery as being detached from reality, beneath lies so much more once it is comprehended on a human level. More often than not, this stirring stillness is a response of one’s rearing or a definitive choice to keep things simple and peaceful. Besides, amid all the chaos of the everyday, there is a sense of comfort to retreating to a cocoon of silence. Sure, it isn’t an absolute, but for the most part, there is no underlying superiority complex to preferring the hush-hush, because when and where it matters, there is a point where the quiet ones will speak up. And when they do, we listen.
This is precisely what makes up the complex mind of Ken Suson, or singularly, Felip. Where he is for the most part filed as the quiet and brooding one in the mighty assemblage of P-pop royalty that is SB19, he knows when to raise his voice (in a good way, of course), and express himself. Making up the musical foundation of their compelling music, his commanding bass vocals is not only effective in holding down the line sonically, but it packs a knockout of a punch emotionally. Where he is a building block to the glory that is SB19, he sets out into an expansive viewpoint with his solo turn. Separate from the affectations of pop, Felip shifts into the real and raw, striking an identity that is not only different, but thoroughly defined.
“I used to be very insecure about my voice. But I’ve grown to accept it and I now use it as my weapon,” reveals Felip. In the context of the birit-obsessed culture, this not only valid, but very relatable. It wasn’t an easy journey of self-love, as it typically never is. However, once he embraced what was unique to him, he set on to defy the expectations of expression. “I really believe that music is my language. It’s a way for me to express words and feelings that I couldn’t say in real life. Every time I perform, I feel like I am in a new world or I’m in my own zone where I can really express myself.”
THE BECOMING OF FELIP
Ahead of the release of COM•PLEX, his six-track compendium of musical catharsis, Felip has slowly brought us into his imagination with Palayo and Bulan, songs that immediately set him apart in the scene. The timbre of his voice aside, his firm resolve to involve everything about his identity and share it to the world. It isn’t the least bit surprising, considering that the genesis of his love for music was fostered with his grandparents and the gospel music. “I grew up with my grandparents who were very active in our church in the province. My uncle was also very well versed with gospel music and plays a lot of instruments. Music for me is a language. I am able to express myself, my feelings, and my artistry through it,” Felip shares. With even more purpose and pride to his passion, he continues, “I’m always proud about my roots and I’m always proud that I’m Bisaya—and if any opportunity permits, it would be great to bring this local sound to an international audience.”
Guided by the spirit of experimenting and adventure, Felip is focused on carving an indelible imprint to the language of Filipino music. “For this EP, it’s more of a new hip-hop and rap sound that I experimented with. I wanted to try how the sound fits my voice and what other styles I can do. We did this together with the help of my friend who is also a producer, Jake Masca, and some producers from Germany,” he says. ”Most of the songs were written during our tour as SB19, some of it were written on the plane during long flights. It was a difficult process and there were time constraints but we made it. This is probably one of my biggest achievements, as well.”
Even without the comfort zone that is SB19, Felip is in an impressive trajectory of making a name for himself as an artist. Honoring the complexities of the craft he has dedicated his life to, he is fully committed to experiencing this ride, whatever may come his way. This includes falling prey to normal things that chip off the confidence and courage of a creative such as balking to pressure. “There are times na nada-down tayo as artists, normal naman ‘yun. But I hope na hindi natin kalimutan na hawakan natin ang microphone kumbaga. Ito kung passion ko eh, I don’t wanna lose it,” he asserts. He admits though that he still gets nervous, which is normal, especially with something that you care for so much. This was particularly at the listening party of COM•PLEX where aside from his friends and fans, the room was peppered with his music contemporaries. “Actually, kinakabahan ako. Sabi ko, bakit ang daming tao. Na-pressure tuloy ako. Kinakabahan aka since this is yung pinaka-unang performance ko ng COM•PLEX EP in front of so many artists,” he says with a sheepish school boy grin. “Gagawin ko lang best ko. You know, ‘di naman ako nages-set ng expectations sa music ko, but I hope na-enjoy niyo yung performance ko.”
LOUD AND CLEAR
With the pounding energy of Felip as a performer and the rousing mood of such tracks as ROCKSTA, SUPERIORITY, MICTEST, DRINKSMOKE, CRIMINAL (a personal favourite with its sudden shifts in vocal inflections and Michael Jackson-esque orchestration), and STRAYDOGS, it is clear that he isn’t playing around. Keeping it real and raw, he definitely bares it all and gives it everything his got from the introduction of instrumentations to the trailing vocals at the very end. Fully settled in his rockstar era, Felip is sticking to his guns and playing to his strengths.
“In public, I always have to put on a smile and do my best in everything I do, but when I’m alone at home, I get negative thoughts, sometimes. Being a ROCKSTA is a mentality,” Felip says about embracing the, well, complexities in COM•PLEX. “I have no time to be disappointed with myself. As the line goes, “Roar! Rise! Pick it up! You gotta! Mic Mic – hold it tight! You better!” The mic represents my passion and talents—and this is something that I will need to hold on to.”
In this particular moment, Felip is no longer just the quiet one. With a firm grip on the passions and dreams that color his life, along with the deeper complexities that come with it, it is only about to get louder and clearer from here on out. And to that end, we will be here, listening to what he has to, or well, sing next.