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Fil-Aus artist Czarina finds songwriting therapeutic and inspiring

An interview with Melbourne-based Filipino-Australian artist, Czarina

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Jason Cordi
Editor-in-Chief, The Philippine Times

The Philippine Times recognises the recent struggles of artists and musicians in Australia and around the world, including talented local Filipino-Australians. The pandemic has impacted an industry which relies heavily on live music to succeed.

In an interview with The Philippine Times, Filipino-Australian artist Czarina shares how she, as an artist, has found ways to find inspiration through songwriting and performances on social media.

Tell us about you and some of your career highlights

My name is Czarina (Lapus), a singer/songwriter based in Melbourne, born in the Philippines.

I have relatives who are actors and musicians, in particular my mum loved to sing. I was always part of school choirs as well. I have performed with full bands before, as well as had guitarists / pianists accompany me when I perform, also had back up dancers when I was younger, but I mostly perform solo.

I love to write original music, working closely with producers and release my songs independently online. I often share video covers playing on the ukulele or keyboard.

My song ‘I Miss You’ gained popularity online particularly throughout Asia thanks to TikTok, SoundCloud and YouTube.

I represented Australia in 2016 competing in the World Championships of Performing Arts and came home with a gold medal for original works.

I’ve also written a children’s book, and an original children’s music album called ‘Starlight’ that donated funds to the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Some of my favourite performances include runway fashion shows, singing for Melbourne Day for the Lord Mayor, performing the national anthem at AAMI park for the Legends Football League, and perhaps you may have seen me performing on stage at the Philippine Fiesta.

Czarina | Photo: RMR

How has COVID-19 affected your career?

Every year I love to write and release new original music independently. I love to perform my new songs at events and I would normally organise an album release party where I would showcase the new songs. Last year I released an album called ‘Stars’ inspired by the loss of my beautiful mum.

I find writing therapeutic, and this year I really wanted to write some up beat, positive inspiring music, but as the year started with bushfires and then covid, and lockdowns, the songs I wrote were inspired by this.

Jumpstart’ is about the energy of giving someone a hug, something so simple that we truly miss in these times. ‘Longing’ as the name suggests is longing for a loved one particularly in a relationship. ‘Echo’ is about how life is never going to be the same, it’s an echo of once was, also seeing the word echo as the voices of the people in lockdown eventually coming out again, as well as the memory of those that lost their lives due to covid.

Throughout the negatives, there have been some positives as well in relation to my musical career. With people staying home, I noticed more of my music being streamed online particularly in Asia, which has been an overwhelming and happy surprise.

Being in lockdown however has been challenging mentally, and emotionally. Sometimes finding it hard to find the motivation to write a lyric, sing a melody, perform a song, when it’s something that I normally love to do. And because creativity is tied in with the emotions, what I shared really depended on how I was feeling.

What are some of the key things you’ve been doing during the pandemic? 

At first for a bit of fun, I learnt and sang songs every day, some were requests, that I called a ‘quarantine countdown’, something light hearted and inspiring, where all the songs had the theme of ‘lockdown, virus or freedom’. Everything from Britney Spears ‘Toxic’ to ‘I Will Survive’ to MJ’s ‘Heal the World’.

I managed to write and release some original songs online that were recorded before and in between restrictions.

Czarina Lapus says listening to music and songwriting helped her cope and stay positive during the Melbourne lockdown. | Photo: RMR

What are your future plans?

I would like to complete my album titled ‘Rebirth’ that will include the songs I wrote this year. Looking forward to perform live at some events again (Christmas, weddings). Overall just looking forward to something normal.

Czarina joined the Philtimes Filo Jam Sessions. Watch her rendition of ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ here:

Philtimes Filo Jam sessions – November 2020

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