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Tell us about you.
My name is Leif, I go by the artist name Fiel. I come from a really strict Asian family from the Philippines. I thought my life was always going backwards, and I wasn’t doing what I wanted and getting forced to do school and university. Since I thought everything was going backwards, I thought, ‘why not just change my name to Fiel?’ From there, I started going against what my parents wanted me to do, in the most respectful way possible. After 4 years, they finally came around to understand that I was doing something sensible and for me.
Tell us more about your family.
Both my parents grew up with a traditional upbringing, and I don’t blame how they raised me because that was how they were taught. I love my family. Both my parents want me to study for a job. They both complain about their jobs, yet still want me to go down that same line. However, growing up Filipino has made me realise all of the blessings that I do have. It’s a constant cultural reminder. There’s a lot of pressure from them to achieve things in life, but I’m really just trying to do me, and they are finally coming around to that idea.
What are you studying?
Human Resource Management at Western Sydney Uni. I kind of got forced into it. It was around that time that my name came about. I’m mainly doing it to make my mum happy. She came to this country, and she just wants someone to graduate, and all I want is to make my mum happy.
Describe your creative space in your room?
I went to Salvo’s and salvaged all these vinyls to cover my walls to draw inspiration from. It’s a great space for me because I don’t have pressure from people, and I can learn and grow in the comfort that I have in my own skin. It’s a space for me to feel inspired, and it makes me limitless.
What kind of music are you into?
I love jazz, heavy metal, rock. It’s all combined into one. When I was going up with a cousin who was 28, he had a band that was pretty heavy. That was a definite influence.
Do you think this music style has influenced your personal style?
Definitely. Seeing different cultures combine, and this society that we live in, it is more acceptable to be a weirdo. I love that, because people are now showing their own skin through their art and expression.
How do you think we get to this point of societal acceptance?
I think the same way that I’ve been doing with my parents, which is slowly progressing into a rebellion stage. That’s what we’re good at. Humans always want to change, but they’re also afraid to change. So gradually now, people are finally showing more of their weird side.
Where did this confidence come from?
I used to be really unconfident, especially in front of a camera. But then things started to change when I started to dance. This one time I got a dance sponsorship with Bengara Dance Theatre because I won a competition. It got me to love entertaining and enjoy watching people’s faces light up. So, I guess that’s where my star comes from… like a sunflower.
How would you describe our generation?
We’re lost, but with a purpose. We’re all seeking something. I think our generation is seeking what others want, and it’s a long journey to find what we actually need. I’ve seen this with my friends. Whenever I’m around them, they always seem to think that everything has already been done. That’s the big issue here, and I definitely still face it. With my family, they never truly approved of what I wanted to do, so I had to believe in myself and push past this self-doubt that we all go through.
How do you feel social media has had an effect on our generation?
It’s toxic, but it’s lovely. It’s a good and bad relationship. It’s amazing because now there are so many things that are possible. When I went to America, I was able to connect with so many people that I couldn’t have possibly done before. Yet, there’s also this downside. People are never content nowadays. That’s why I try to turn off my phone when I am creating, and when I’m relaxing. The main thing is to try and not let it get in my head.
What’s a big picture thing that you are focusing on at the moment?
Definitely relationships. Strengthening those relationships around me like family, and friends. Investing in making it a true bond. With social media, we’re a little lost with the connection. So, a major thing I’m trying to do is aiming to understand people for who they are.
How would you say you are making the effort?
I just want to make sure everyone around me is okay. I get that from my mum. Even when she is tired, she keeps putting herself out there to make sure everyone is okay. It definitely goes a long way.
Do you have any siblings as well?
Yep. I have one big brother who is 23, and a little sister who is 5.
What kind of world do you want your sister to grow up in?
In a supportive place. Growing up, it was pretty difficult for me to find support and that had a massive impact on my confidence. Once I found that one friend who supported me, it changed my perspectives from there, and that’s what I want for my sister. I want my sister to live in a world free of assumptions and stereotypes.
What ‘s the next big thing for you?
I would love to just play shows. However, success for me is just being really content doing what I like. My definition of success has changed over the years, and knowing that I did my absolute best. We have to give ourselves a pat on the back for all of the little steps that we’ve taken. However, my next step is releasing a proper studio album when I have the opportunity.
If you were to give advice to someone working through their identity, what would it be?
Take some time alone. Give yourself time to breathe and have patience. I still get impatient and that’s something that I still have to learn. Be patient and focus on one thing that makes you happy or spark. If you are tired everyday and worrying that you aren’t doing something meaningful, it’s because you’re not doing something that is making you happy. Listen to your gut.
Fiel wears Patagonia