Interview: An inside look on Filipa's music video for her upcoming single: "I'd Rather Be Single"

Behind a black, draped curtain in a chilly studio in the NoHo Arts District of LA, I find pop singer Filipa and three pastel-clad young men on the set of a music video. The premise is a dating show not unlike The Bachelorette: three goofy, self-absorbed suitors compete for a date with Filipa, but in the end, she forgoes them all and decides to remain single. Filming is a tedious process, and they’ve been at it since early morning. Around 5:30 pm, everyone takes a brief break for dinner, and Filipa graciously agrees to speak with me while nibbling on a cup of mixed fruit. At just 23 years of age and still relatively unknown outside her home country of South Africa, she already handles the long days and rigorous demands of pop life like a pro, never once complaining. Filipa is strikingly lovely and speaks with a classy South African accent as she regales her story of growing up with big dreams in Pretoria -- dreams I have no doubt she’ll achieve.

Sound Rebel: Growing up in South Africa, did you have many opportunities to see touring bands live?
Filipa: Yes, we get all the big acts in South Africa - I got to see some of my favorites, including One Direction and Justin Bieber.

SR: What kind of music do the local artists in Pretoria make? Give us a scene report.
F: Young people are making all different genres of music there; hip hop is really big, and there’s music in Afrikaans [the local language]. It’s like any country, I guess.

SR: What types of music was played in your house growing up?

F: Everything! My parents are both huge music fans with broad tastes, and they listened to everything from pop artists like Michael Jackson and Celine Dion, to classical musicians like Andrea Bocelli, to music in different languages. Of course I loved The Backstreet Boys and Britney...I had a diverse listening education as a child.

SR: What were your earliest experiences with performing?

F: Since I can remember, I’ve always been acting and singing -- I acted in school plays; I took piano lessons and vocal lessons. From there, I took music as a curricular subject in school, and I got involved with international singing competitions, traveling overseas with a South African team.

SR: How did you get involved with the Ryan Seacrest singing competition in South Africa?

F: In my senior year of high school, I started uploading videos of myself singing cover songs to YouTube. Someone from the competition saw my cover video of a One Direction song on YouTube and contacted me, asking me to enter. At first, I didn’t believe it was really Ryan Seacrest - I thought it was a prank! I entered the competition along with hundreds of others, and the public started voting from the pool of twelve finalists, and I won! It was one of the biggest moments of my life.

SR: What were the effects of winning the competition?

F: I got to professionally record my own single and exclusively premiere it on with a music video. I got booked for a bunch of local gigs, and I was covered by all the local magazines and TV stations, so it was a really cool but really quick change.

SR: How did you start networking throughout the music industry and recording your own music?

F: In premiering my first single, I was approached by producers back home and here in LA. I started meeting writers, a manager [Maria] and a publicist [Dea], and I got more comfortable with sharing my own writing.

SR: What are your goals for the near future? Anyone you aspire to work with?

F: The most important thing for me is learning and growing as an artist. I always want to be learning something new. I feel that the US market is the right place for me to expand to because I’m a pop artist, and there are limited opportunities for me to grow back home. I’d love to one day work with [Swedish songwriter/producer] Max Martin - I guess everyone would, wouldn’t they? [laughs] And it’s a dream of mine to work with [American pop songwriter] Justin Tranter.

SR: What is your typical creative process?

F: I’m naturally a very open person, and as an artist, I want to be authentic to my own story, so all the emotions and events I write about are from my real life. Sometimes I’m struggling with something, and I need to write to understand it or manage it. I always take my ideas to a collaborator, who then helps me find different angles and directions to go in, and then it becomes a really fun thing as opposed to a tedious thing. It’s easy for a writer to get in their own head and doubt their own ability or bravery -- I’m pretty brave, I’d say. It’s important for me to share my truth because I know someone out there can relate to it.

SR: So tell me about the new video, how did it come about?

F: It’s basically about the dating world and what I’ve experienced in it. It’s about how I’m okay being alone and on my own; I’d rather be single than with someone who doesn’t treat me right, it’s just not worth it. For the video, I wanted to do something fun and incorporate my funny, quirky side.
SR: Any touring plans in the works?

F: Oh goodness, I definitely want to tour -- no concrete plans yet, but I love performing.

SR: Any advice for young aspiring artists?

F: Yes- always stay true to your gut because so many people will try to sway you, make you feel pressured, and doubt yourself. The most important thing is staying true to your vision and your voice.

Look for the upcoming video, “I’d Rather Be Single” out soon!

Review by Michelle Kirk
Photos by Taylor Brielle

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