Bernardine is a singer, songwriter and producer from Perth, Australia of British and Filipino descent. Although classically trained, she has followed a career in alternative contemporary music. She is independent and self managed. She has released two records and has thrived as a full time artist in the music industry since 2010. Her music is described as indie, alternative folk-pop. We caught up with her to find out more.
You are of British and Filipino Descent but raised in Perth Australia - did this make you question your sense of identity when you were growing up?
When I was growing up there weren't too many Asian families or mixed families around so I felt like I was an outsider at times but I was still able to make friends and participate at school. I did feel different but it didn't stop me from doing the things that I wanted to do.
Do you feel Filipino? Does your Pinay background and culture influence your music?
I feel Filipino to an extent, I can tell when someone else is Filipino through their accent and mannerisms. But because I was brought up in Australia I have an Australian accent and speak only English so sometimes I can forget that I am Filipino. Filipino culture has always been alive in my life through music. Filipinos love to sing and play music and this has been a foundation in my identity for the entirety of my life.
You starting creating music at a very young age, you are classically trained - why have you moved away from that to the more contemporary music scene?
It was a very natural progression for me. I had been learning classical music but I had been exposed to many singer songwriter type artists which influenced me to start playing that type of music. Compared to classical music, performing contemporary music felt like much less pressure. I love classical music and will always treasure my training because it has allowed me to understand music at such a deep level which I can inject into my current writing.
What has been the reception been like for your music?
My music touches on mental health awareness and in some songs talks about my own experiences and yes I have had people express that they do relate to the message in my music. It is a truly great feeling to be understood so I really cherish comments like these and it encourages me to keep going and to express myself further and more deeply, I feel like I have a lot more to say.
Your music openly talks about anxiety - how was this received by your friends and family? Did you they know you suffered from anxiety and depression or was your music in a way a cry for help or a way to "release" your emotions out into the world?
My friends and family have been very supportive with my music even if they have not been exposed to these types of medical problems. I do believe my music was a cry for help at the time but the only person who could help me was myself and I'm proud to say that I have done the very best for myself through self care and all symptoms of my anxiety and depression are subsiding where I will soon be in remission from the illness.
When do you feel most inspired to create music?
I am most inspired to create music when I have had a few days off for myself to clean up and organise my space, wash and style my hair, go through my beauty regimes, cook something nice and write in my journal. My head feels clear at this time and I feel excited and ready to create something.
How would you describe your music style? Which artists have influenced you?
My music style is alternative pop and I am influenced by artists like Crazy P, Cut Copy, The XX, Miami Horror, Angus and Julia Stone and Toro Y Moi.
What in your mind makes for a good song? What song are you most proud of and why?
I believe a good song is simple and catchy. I struggled with this for a while because I felt that some songs I heard were too simple and they could have more substance, but I believe now that simple is best every time.
You are self managed, independent artist - has the struggle been real as you are not part of a big music company juggernaut?
Yes there is a real struggle being a lone artist in the music industry. I am very passionate about music but I also hold responsibility to the world to be a functioning member of society that pays my expenses. I have always ensured that I am working and supporting myself and my creative endeavours and I am proud to do this however it does create a limitation on the amount of time you have to create art. I am constantly reframing my situation and reminding myself that artistry is not a race and I am an artist for life so I don't need to rush releasing new content. I can take my time, work on my art and expose my art to the world when it is ready and that is okay. I have never thought that I can't be an artist anymore. It is a part of who I am! I will always find a way to create my art.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on some great new material different from anything I have created before. I am still writing alternative pop however the instruments in my studio have evolved to digital creating a plethora of new effects and sounds which I am experimenting with. Updates at www.bernardinemusic.com.au