The Complex Council best represents what Complex Philippines stands for—the culmination of youth culture in the Philippines. Whether in music, fashion, or sports, the Council commands respect, influences many, and lets their work speak for itself.
Claim to fame: NVMD, 2.4 million Spotify listeners, future R&B queen
Denise Julia exhibits the best things about Gen-Zs: relentless, tech-savvy, and looks good while doing it. Having written songs since she was 13, the 20-year-old artist broke through mainstream consciousness with NVMD by plugging the single on Tiktok, demonstrating the platform’s star-making power.
73 million-something streams later, Denise hasn’t looked back. With subsequent tracks enjoying success, Denise Julia looks to globalize her R&B vibe inspired by Beyonce, Aaliyah, and SZA.
What’s been the biggest shock to you with how urban music has grown in the Philippines?
The biggest shock is that we have managed to dominate outside our borders. So, my music, for example, has reached many Southeast Asian countries, even the Western scene. They’ve shown a lot of appreciation and were surprised to find out, like, “You’re from the Philippines?”
What makes the music culture in the Philippines unique?
Do you know when they say that when you’re Filipino, there’s like a 90% chance you can sing? I think that’s what sets our culture apart; any Filipino can make music. Sure, there’s not much appreciation yet, but it’s getting there.
Why do you think Filipinos have such an interest in music?
How do you think music helps define the Filipino identity outside of just music?
Music is associated with a specific fashion style and even way of speaking. I’m a big fan of the 90s, so the way I carry myself, it’s like “Oh, you look like a 90s baby!” I would dress up literally like a mini Beyoncé. [laughs]
And I don’t know why but rappers always have the same style and type of music? So, there’s some correlation between fashion and music, because both move from one trend to the next.
Would you have done anything differently five years ago if you knew how big urban music would get?
I don’t think I would’ve. I’ve always felt like the music space was somewhere I belonged? I know any musician feels the same way. So, whatever point in time that you entered the industry, whatever point it evolved from, if you’re mentally there, you’re gonna be there.
Fill in the blanks for us: Youth culture in the Philippines is defined by ____ and kept alive by ____.
Youth culture in the Philippines is defined by craziness and kept alive by… technology. [laughs]
Everything is just out there! I think it’s because our generation gathers knowledge from different places and deposits them everywhere. The internet makes it so easy to give and take. For sure, technology runs our craziness. And it’s okay! [laughs]
Here's another: It’s about time that Complex arrived in the Philippines because ____.
Because I’ve been a fan and I get a lot of memes and news Complex, so it’s crazy that they’re coming here. It’s all coming together, and being a part of it is insane.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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