KZ Tandingan Embraces What Makes Her Different And Champions Honesty With Her Craft

KZ Tandingan Embraces What Makes Her Different And Champions Honesty With Her Craft


Defending her music and her artistry, KZ Tandingan orchestrates a symphonic future that is distinctly and decidedly all of her own doing.

With a music so distinct and daring, as it is equally bold and brave, it is almost impossible to imagine a world without the moving artistry of KZ Tandingan. Okay, this might sound like such an extreme situation, especially with the indelible imprint the Soul Supreme has left in the musical plane, but at one crucial point, she feared that all this, even in its genesis, would not have even been possible for her.

Taking us all the way back to her years in high school, when her vocal chords were challenged by polyps (an acute trauma or laryngeal lesions that impact the quality of one’s voice), a young Tandingan understandably fell into depression. “I felt like my dream was gonna be taken away from me, kasi I never expected that to happen ,” she says, her usual overdosing of fun mellowed by the melancholy of a memory that is still painful for her to recall. “I almost stopped singing kasi parang di ko na nare-reach ‘yung mga expectation ng mga tao na nagsasabing: ‘Hindi na siya nakakabirit,’ ‘hindi na siya magaling,’ ‘’di na katulad ng dati.’”

Long dreaming of singing even at its earnest and essential, KZ Tandingan had to work hard not only get accustomed to a new voice so to speak, but to also pick herself up and pull out of that state of stupor she relented to. “Music is my art, actually, ‘yun talaga eh. If ever I wasn’t given the opportunity to win X-Factor or even be given the opportunity to audition, I still see myself as an artist today,” she says. “Siguro, meron akong ibang trabaho, pero I’m still going to be an artist. KZ is, and will always be a singer—mawalan man siya ng boses, I can’t imagine myself not singing.”

With a musical reality title to her name, where she got to sing the story of her dreams and where she wants to take her life, it would seem that the path would be easily laid out for her, scoring musical deals, regular spots at variety shows, and even lending her voice to TV and film soundtracks, it seemed that the world was hers for the taking. While this was the case, it came with a caveat: She had to fit a certain singer mold and system that was deemed viable and easy to appreciate by the general audience, her growing scores of fans included.

“I almost lost who I am as an artist dahil doon. It was hard, but I’m really thankful na after a few years, I found a management who really believed in me, and for the first time, sila ‘yung nagsabi sa akin na whatever makes me different, whatever makes me stand out, I should embrace it, kasi ‘yun ‘yung magiging strength ko,” she recalls. “After three years of trying to force myself to fit into this world, finally in-allow ako na maging kung sino man ako, to do what I really want to do. Doon ako nag-grow and nagkaroon ng direction. I was told: ‘Paniwalaan mo kung ano ‘yung sinasabi ng puso mo as an artist, kung ano ‘yung sinasabi ng music mo.’ ‘Yun ‘yung nagbigay sa akin ng confidence to stand up for who I am as a person and as an artist.”

Today, the mere mention of her name immediately calls to mind a unique sound and singing style that really does send chills down our spines. “Sobrang importante sa akin na my music comes first, na before singing on TV, before magkaroon ng projects, ng endorsements, nagkaka-movie, I am first and foremost an artist,” she reiterates. “So, regardless kung ano man mangyari, gusto ko na I’m honest with my music, kasi that’s what brought me into this industry. Sinasabi ko nga palagi na pinaka-hate ko na nako-compromise ‘yung music and ‘yung artistry ko, pero I’ve learned na it’s okay to meet halfway, kasi this is still business. Pero ‘yun nga, I’m thankful na I’ve found people na ina-allow ako to be who I am as a person.”

With this liberty to realize the full potential of her abilities as a musician comes as awning, a beckoning of a greater appreciation for a spectrum of styles that truly celebrate the story and the music in its purest, unadulterated form. “I’m really happy that people are more open to the different genres of music. Sinasabi ko nga palagi na: ‘Music is not just one color. Music is a rainbow na ang dami-dami niyang kulay and pwede din i-appreciate,” she says. “Needless to say, I’m very very happy na nagagawa ko sa music ko kung ano ‘yung gusto kong gawin at kung ano ang magugustuhan ng tao.

Highly cognizant of her abilities and where she stands in the world of music, KZ Tandingan is taking the recognitions along the way, such as her stint in the Chinese-produced reality show, Singer 2018, to greater heights—in Filipino, no less. “Ang importante lang naman ay proud tayo sa kung sino tayo, lalo na tayong artist. Kaya ko pinaglalaban na kumanta ako in Filipino talaga kasi I believe na music transcends language. Even nung nasa China ako, and when they asked me to sing in Mandarin, pumayag ako kahit ‘di ko naiintindihan, kahit ‘di ako marunong magsalita ng Mandarin kasi ang importante dapat nararamdaman ng mga tao ‘yung mensahe ng kanta. Tsaka kung hindi natin kakantahin, sino pang kakanta nito in the future?”

Befitting of the individuality she has carved out for herself, and one that she staunchly espouses, KZ Tandingan only hopes that more souls become supreme in their own right and in whatever way they choose. “It’s okay to be different. You should embrace it, kasi ‘yun ‘yung maganda sa’yo and ngayon na nangyayari na siya sa iba and may nai-inspire ako sa mga kabataan na tanggapin kung sino man sila at ang kakayanan nila, ‘yung strengths and even their weaknesses. With this inspiration, I hope na sa kung ano man ang naghihintay na laban, ready for battle sila. In doing so, then know I really have done something right.”

She might not think any of it yet, but by persisting with her craft and artistry, she has in effect orchestrated a future of individuals to be nothing but who they are and who they want to be, just like she did, supreme style.

Photography by Charisma Lico
Art direction by Jann Pascua
Styling Jeb Fronda and Lyn Alumno
Makeup Anthea Bueno
Hair by Mark Familara
Sittings editor by Angelo Ramirez de Cartagena
Shoot coordination by Thea Martin
Shoot assistant Joy Almero
Shot on location at Palazzo Verde
Special thanks to SJ Cruz Ducut of Cornerstone Entertainment Inc. and Ian de Borja


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