Creativity Knows No Bounds With Fern.
When someone is passionate about something, it's easy to feel influenced by their passion. Recognizing their story can stir something in you that makes you feel compelled to do something. Maybe it's in their authenticity for their craft? Or perhaps it's in the vulnerability that compels us? Either way, this is what I felt when talking to Fern., who speaks of his creative endeavors like they're a part of him that he simply can't live without. And in many ways, they probably are.
On Fern.: Pants from @maison_soriano
I first heard of Fern.—or at least, I thought I did—in his Paradise Rising (of 88rising) feature in semilucent. His song, Kaori, caught my eye, having watched the anime, Your Lie in April, back in my high school days. To my surprise, I did some digging and realized I heard of him much earlier. I completely forgot that I used his Into You music video as a peg for my college org video. What are the odds, right? I couldn't recognize him with how varying both songs and their respective looks were. But where's there's change; there's growth.
Fern. is a multi-hyphenate creative. It was in 2018 when he came into the music scene with the single, Into You. He described his 17-year-old self as an imitation of artists he liked at the time. Since then, he's grown and carved his own identity. He's become someone eager to experiment and try new forms of creative expression.
While he is still the singer, songwriter, and producer fusion, he brings the 'creativity' aspect to new heights, including visual. "I watch a lot of videos and films, and I also appreciate art, so all of that just comes together. And it's like, how can I put together my love for film, my love for art, and my love for music all in one brand or one person," he shares.
And I can see it. Fern. has the ability to create such minimalistic yet atmospheric songs, such as Kagandahan, which is introspective to a fault as it talks of the fleeting nature of beauty. Meanwhile, I have no words to describe how beautifully done his videos for Baby Rye were—both the music video and lyric video—as it pays homage to old '90s films with influences of Filipino culture. And where can I begin to talk about his most recent release in LOOPING a.k.a. his wackiest yet ingenious MV?
But that's just it, right? When you realize the possibilities are endless, it opens so many doors to the paths you can take. Quoting my favorite anime, Haikyuu, "We aren't limited to only one way of being great." He shares stories of getting to score and direct films, make stories, and even write poems, even when he thinks he sucks at it.
But, it's more just a matured artistry. There's a tonal shift to the way he presents himself. There's a change in point of view. He's so involved in his creative endeavors to the point that he even sent his pegs and mood board for his cover shoot with PARCINQ Magazine. One of my favorite parts of my conversation with Fern. is when he talked about how the "Fern. project" was bigger than him. Slowly, his interview language shifted from talking in "I's" for the personal questions to "We's" as he spoke about his work.
He shares: "My music is bigger than me now, for sure. Like when we had a shoot last week, and it didn't end up the way that we wanted it to. We stayed there for 26 hours. We didn't sleep. And when we did the edit, Jon [Olarte]—the director—and I were like, 'this is not good,' so I guess the perspective now is everyone is so invested in this 'Fern. project.' It's so nice to see. That's why I don't take credit for it anymore. It's really just all of us. 'Fern.' is just the platform, but like the team, it's everyone's vision."
When Fern. talks of his work, it always circles back to the people he works with. While things have changed from the earlier days, and he has full creative control now, he never fails to circle it back to the people and friends who create alongside him. And I believe that. Art is collaborative. When you have more people working on a project, everyone takes part in creating meaning and adding depth.
"Everyone is just trying so hard, and it's like putting the same amount of effort. And sometimes, they put more effort than me, so it's so nice to see that the perspective there is really bigger than me. We're all just enjoying, which is super genuine and more than just clout. We're all just having fun. Right now, what we want to do is create a certain vision for this certain project and like stick with it and have an identity because we feel like artists here need more identity, not just people telling them what to do," he says.
When Art Becomes Second Nature
Fern. found his way to music through his friends, who were musicians, as well. He used the analogy: "When all your friends play basketball, you also play basketball," which honestly sounds way too casual for how he talks about music now. He talks of competing in a battle of the bands in school and his first producer stint through Claudia Barretto. But, at the end of the day, he may have grown and matured, but he's still just a guy that loves what he does and believes in the work he puts out.
On Fern. : Denim madness overlayed washed denim jacket from @wearystudios
Discovering your passion isn't a straight pathway. Everything starts with curiosity, and eventually, it morphs into interests and commitments or even becomes second nature. In Fern.'s case, he compares his making music to gamers never getting tired of playing games. It's something he doesn't get drained or overwhelmed from. There's just a hunger to the way he approaches art.
When I asked him if he goes through burnouts, I was shocked to find him saying never. Every day, he makes music. He works on his own stuff on the weekends, while on the weekdays, he works on other people's. And that sounded crazy to me. I'm also a creative, and I couldn't wrap my head around tiring myself out to that degree. Until a few days ago, I read something that struck me. The creative industry we're in is a subjective industry. Take away the expectations, pressure, and the need for validation; what do we have left? Art is, first and foremost, self-indulgent, and if it happens to reach people, that's a bonus.
"I never saw it as a career path, so I just enjoyed it. Like, you know how a kid would wanna go home and play games? That's how I felt. I wanted to go home so I can make music and play the guitar. I wanted school to be over so I can make beats and stuff. I just super enjoy it. I love it; I just love it so much." The way Fern. talks about his love for music is the way we all wish we're talked about by a significant other. And you know the guy is dead serious to go the lengths of selling his PC to cut the distractions.
After no longer paying mind to the numbers, Fern. has become less self-conscious and just focuses on the music. He deleted all the apps he used to track the numbers on and stopped fixating on the views or followers. He doesn't look for the reassurance from family, friends, and the public like he once pandered to.
He creates for the sake of creating, even if he'll need to dive headfirst into a world he's unfamiliar with. "This is my expression. This is my art, so whatever if you guys like it, or if you guys don't like it," he says in finality.
Words by Marielle Filoteo (@isthatmarielle)
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin (@rxandy)
Art Direction & Art by Joe Andy (@heyjoeandy)
Fashion film by Ian Francisco (@ianfranciscoph)
Sittings Editor Philip Vargas (@plipfilms)
Makeup by Janica Cleto (@janicleto_)
Hair by Aldrin Jalandoni (@aldrinjalandoni)
In Partnership with Island Records Philippines & MCA Music (Universal Music PH)
Special thanks to GNN Entertainment Production