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Fern.’s ‘Closer I Get’ Is A Testament To His Maturing Narrative

The “DREAMWALKER” artist speaks to Complex Philippines on the necessity to adapt, though remains true to his sound in this newfound chapter.
Closer I Get
James Francisco

Exemplifying a shift in perception, Fern. reawakens his solo odyssey, reaping the fruits he once sowed. Notable for his contributions through the alternative collective-turned-family KINDRED, he channels a newfound sound through his single, now streamable across all major music platforms.

“Closer I Get” marks his first for 2024, and while an album is reportedly in the works, the track provides a testament to his growth—maturing beyond its verses and looking at composing as not just a need but a passion freely practiced and nurtured. The “DREAMWALKER” hitmaker is known for wearing several hats as a composer, a business owner, and a collaborator, yet his genuineness and sense of self remain.

YouTube: Fern.

While many look to the changing tides of the industry as a blueprint for success, the 23-year-old strikes a balance between adapting to the current and riding the waves the best way he knows how to, eluding external influences, and focusing on the now.

Fern. speaks with Complex Philippines on his discoveries as an artist, the restructured role of music, and remaining true to himself regardless of what may come his way.

Hey Fern! Before we start, how’ve you been, man?

Good but tired. I’ve been working on the business side of things, which I really see myself in. The artist stuff kasi, being more comfortable on the business end makes me create more and be less pressured. I like what I make and now that I function in my own timeline and make the money elsewhere, I don’t have to use music to survive.

That’s great to hear. Since 2022, your career has somewhat reached a hiatus with your involvement in KINDRED through “Subset.” It’s only this year you’ve announced an individual approach, noting an album in the works. What made you revert to “flying solo,” so to speak?

I guess for me, it’s the same thing. I feel like I’m able to refresh how I think about music and approach my creativity. It’s refreshing because I don’t have to do it (make music) all the time and listen to “what’s popping” right now in the Philippines. For me, I only listen to a few OPM artists, like Hev Abi and O $ide Mafia—more of those who are Western adjacent. The main struggle was to keep up with what’s trending in the Philippines, and me not really such a fan of this, so it’s always this struggle wanting to make it as a musician. 

But allowing myself to create business moves with KINDRED, as we’re putting it up as a label, which is what its real intention was—to have a group of artists like an Odd Future-type of collective, release a mixtape, then breakout after. Everyone is working on their solo stuff. We’re doing KINDRED as a label, which I’m founding, and we’ve got platforms like Ugly Duck and Apotheka. To summarize, I’m just glad I get to make things on my terms because there’s no pressure, and no outside perspectives are coming inside. It’s literally what you heard just now—just me f*cking around and emoting.

Instagram: @ferntan_ and @kindredism

Maybe later, the story behind this (song) is just you making it on Instagram Live.

I have some songs I’ve made on Instagram Live. As a Leo, it’s just nice being watched. I’m too much of a Leo.

According to your Instagram post, “Closer I Get” is the first track released from your upcoming album. Can you tell us a bit about the story behind the single?

“Closer I Get” started after I moved to Poblacion last year, living in the same building as a DJ friend of mine, Bea (ButtaB). We were just hanging out one time and she played a song. I forgot the name of the song, but there was this track that I really gravitated towards. I released “Faith” a year before this happened. With KINDRED we focused on bouncing ideas off each other and trying to make a song together. But I think that moment when she played that song, I realized like “Oh damn, that’s kind of like what I hear myself making.” I told her “If sang on that beat, it would be crazy,” and then she was like: “Why don’t you make something like that?” So I did. It was natural, drawing from the simple moment of kicking it with friends and hearing something off of Spotify and being like: “Yo, I could make something like this,” so yeah, I can’t believe I was able to pull that off or the thought of hearing something, thinking that if I wrote on that it would go so much harder. What I write about is everything that I go through and what I hope to experience in life. It’s not about anyone else or a certain catastrophic moment. It’s really just me vibing—listening to a certain tune and thinking “I could body that.”

Do you have a favorite line or part of the track?

It’s “the closer I get to you,” the hook definitely. The melody came first and there’s a synth behind the hook. When that melody came up, that’s when I knew that it was catchy as f*ck. Like that’s the one.

The way I produce songs, I start from the middle or where the “highest moment is.” That’s what I do for everybody, whether for myself or an artist I produce for. It’s always the hook because I feel like it’s so much easier to take away from, so when I had that part together, I was like “I’m back.” I missed it though. I really miss making music for myself.

How does this collection differ from “DREAMWALKER” in terms of message and sound, as well as where you are as an artist?

I think for me, I realized that creativity and being an artist is your job. It’s cool that it’s doing something different, but you have to realize that it’s also your job and I think that’s a major change. It is my job to discover new things and I can’t always be a “soft boy” forever. “DREAMWALKER” was me five years ago, listening to artists like The 1975. But, it is my job to create interesting music throughout the years of my career. Realizing that symbolizes my growth, na parang I have to improve my production and the way I write. So yun, the major shift is not emotional and it’s more like realizing that it’s also my job, knowing that I have to work on this, I have to make music every day because I have to work on it. If I want to keep this job or if I want to get promoted in this job, I need to work on it.

Traveling to Bangkok recently, you noted a collaboration between you and Flower.far. Any surprise collaborators or hints you’d want to tell us in anticipation of the album’s full release?

I feel like it’s more in terms of production. I don’t want too many features on the album, maybe around one or two, but in terms of production, I’ve been working on a lot of behind-the-scenes work for other artists. I don’t know if I can say these things, but JCON (Jess Connelly), I was also in the studio with Denise (Julia), and also trying to work something out with O $ide (Mafia). Yeah, just like pitching beats to everybody and working together in the studio. But yeah album-wise, I don’t want no features. If there’s going to be a feature on there, I want someone who’s part of KINDRED or people that I hang around.

Instagram: @ferntan_

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