Before solo artist FELIP burst onto the music scene without a word of warning, he was better known as Ken, the main dancer of P-Pop supergroup SB19. Proudly hailing from the far-flung province of Zamboanga del Sur, FELIP grew up in his pastor grandfather’s church community with a love of music and instruments(2,3). Despite his self-described hatred of his deep voice in his early days as a performer, he found his way into SB19 through grit, determination, hard work, and a lot of blind faith.
His solo debut? That came as a surprise to everyone.
Out of Nowhere
FELIP’s fans first learned he would use his birth name for his solo career in his first collaboration with his fellow Bisaya artists in a remix of Matthaios’ ‘Pangga (Sweetheart)'(4). The self-written rap portion focusing on loving his sweetheart showed a romantic side that was very different from his overwhelming tough swag as Ken.
Though the world had yet to take notice, his Sisiw, and A’tin as a whole, were hooked.
His proper debut came in the form of his first single, ‘Palayo (Away)’ which was written in his mother tongue, Bisaya. The song, which was originally meant as a thank you gift to his fans (both A’tin and Sisiw) for their support during SB19’s tough times, mesmerized thousands during SB19’s 2021 Back in the Zone online concert. The answer was the strong call for ‘Palayo’ to be released as a single - something that caught even FELIP by surprise(1).
He casually announced a single release and a music video within a few weeks, again under FELIP, and with his own indie production company, SUperiorSON. A series of concept photos and teaser vids later, ‘Palayo’ debuted on both YouTube and international music streaming platforms with minimal fanfare from outside the fandom. Though the world had yet to take notice, his Sisiw, and A’tin as a whole, were hooked.
‘Bulan’ (The Moon God) was released in 2022, once again, with very little promotion or warning. The all-Filipino song based on Visayan mythology sparked an interest in Filipino literature and storytelling, precisely FELIP’s point for writing the song. The music video uses the myth of Haliya and Bulan’s fight with Bakunawa (the sea serpent god) to encourage people to move forward despite negative back-talk(1). It inspired both admiration and controversy from the pop community. The buzz around it grew so much that FELIP became the first pure Pinoy to debut on the Grammy’s Global Spin, a program focused on musicians promoting their indigenous culture(4,5,9).
FELIP has not come about his career easily
The swag translates elsewhere with FELIP’s position as CEO of his personal music production and fashion line, SUperiorSON. His artistic side (thanks to his early days as a cartoonist and editor for his school paper and his youthful ambition to be an architect) comes full circle with his edgy clothing designs and eye-catching packaging. His product drops sell out in minutes - clear proof that A’tin and Sisiw covet his work. His latest venture was the start of a live session series, #SuperiorSessions(8).
From self-taught musician and childhood church singer to the surprise discovery in his teens that he could actually dance, FELIP has not come about his career easily. But his grit and determination to succeed and better himself can only mean one thing: we can expect more from Felip Jhon Suson for a long time to come.