From Australia to Manila, Leila Alcasid isn’t letting anything faze her

Doing a big move is hard, but the young lady is slaying it — and she’s got new music to boot.

Photos by Onin Lorente
Make-up by Anthea Bueno
Hair by Jay Aquino

Packing your bags and starting anew somewhere else is always exciting, but here’s the thing that nobody really talks about: moving is hard. Digging up your roots and transplanting yourself to a whole new city, leaving behind everything and everyone you know for a new beginning can be quite jarring. It helps, of course, to make new friends and have your family around you, but finding yourself in a new place is something you have to do all by yourself. It’s quite intimidating to say the least, but not for Leila Alcasid. Having recently moved from Manila from Australia, the daughter of OPM legend Ogie Alcasid isn’t letting anything faze her — in fact, she’s thriving in her new environment. We had a quick chat with the rising songstress about her big move, current reads, and her upcoming music.

Hi, Leila! What’s keeping you busy these days?

I’m currently preparing to release some music, so I’m having meetings, writing songs, and I’m going to start recording again soon. I was recording at the end of last year. That’s what I’m focusing on at the moment. And then of course, my Tagalog [Laughs].

What do you like to do when you’re not busy?

When I’m not busy, I’ve been reading a lot of books lately, spending time with my family, since I’ve been building my relationship with my dad and stuff like that. Going out for dinner, go to the movies. Yeah reading books, working on my blog, writing. I like a lot of writing.

What’s the last book you read that was your favorite?

Crazy Rich Asians. [Laughs].

Have you finished the whole series?

I’m halfway through the second book, China Rich Girlfriend.

What was it like moving to Manila?

It was surprisingly easy, actually. I thought there would be a bit of a culture shock — not naman a culture shock, but I thought I would have a hard time adjusting. But it was very fast. I felt at home straight away, and people here really made me feel welcome, especially in the industry, like this one [gestures to make-up artist Anthea Bueno]. It made it really simple for me to transition to moving here. It was kind of overwhelming, in the sense that there were so many new things happening at once. I was facing a lot of new things, and meeting a lot of new people in such a short amount of time. But all in all, it was very fun.

What’s your favorite thing about Manila and Sydney?

About Manila — and the Philippines in general — definitely the people. The people here have left a really big impression on me. Everyone’s just so kind, and so willing to do anything for you, and just give their whole into everything that they do. I really admire that.

My favorite thing about Australia is the cities. I love Sydney, Melbourne. I’m really a city kind of person, so whenever I feel homesick, that’s what I miss. Definitely just the atmosphere, the food. It’s quite busy but also relaxed. I think the vibe and atmosphere in Australia is my favorite. And of course my family.

What’s one place you like to go to for a quick escape?

Home! Australia. I’m planning to go in March, and again in June, and hopefully again in the second half of the year. So whenever I wanna have a little bit of an escape from anything, I just go to my house.

You mentioned you were working on your music. What’s that been like for you?

It’s definitely been a journey. Before I moved here, I wasn’t really… I kind of banished the idea of ever getting into music. Not because I didn’t want to, or because I didn’t think I could, but I had other interests. Me moving here was [also] a bit of a surprise, so it was really about learning about my voice, training my voice. I needed to get lessons to really learn how to properly [do it]. I’m learning how I am as a songwriter, learning new skills, stuff like that. The recording process has been very… it’s not simple. It takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of tenacity. You have to really persevere. There’s times when I feel like I wanna give up, ‘cause I’m like, “What am I even doing?” It’s definitely been something that’s tested my resilience, but it’s been a very exciting process. I’m super excited to see where it goes, and what I end up with, what people think about it, and how people receive me as well. It’s been very interesting.

Do you know what kind of sound you’re gonna do?

It’s very… I guess it’s pop. But very relaxed. It’s not too much going on, very light, y’know, very girly. My personal kind of music [I listen to is] Yuna, and Lorde. I really like them so I’ll definitely channel that in my muscial process. But I’m working with Marion Aunor, she’s my producer, and also has written a few of the songs I’ve recorded. She’s been really good, ‘cause she really knows the sound that I want. That’s a very vital part of the whole process, working with someone who knew exactly what I wanted. She’s been really helpful.

Apart from Yuna and Lorde, which artists do you look up to?

I love Ariana Grande. I listen to a lot of music, but she’s definitely… performance-wise, looks-wise, music-wise, talent. She’s just very diverse. I love Selena Gomez. Hailee Steinfeld is a new favorite. But creatively, I’d have to say Yuna’s one of my favorites. Her music style’s different, but it’s still very upbeat. I love that kind of music, it’s not too moody-sounding. With Lorde, I like the side of her where she’s not afraid to do different stuff.

Switching gears, what’s it been like working with the other Benchsetters?

It’s been really fun, actually! The first Benchsetter shoot was near the end of last year, so I had fun. I was kind of nervous to meet everyone, ‘cause they’re all very outgoing and very fun, but it was really good. They’re all really welcoming and really friendly. Now whenever we see each other, like sometimes I’ll bump into some of them [while I’m] out, even somewhere not BENCH/ related. It’s nice to have a few new friends. It’s like having a barkada.

What advice would you give to someone who’s about to make a big move?

Make sure you know, or you have a general idea of what you wanna do. Don’t just kind of blindly do it. It’s fun to just go with the flow, but at least have a general idea of what direction you’re heading in to so you don’t get swamped by all the different possibilities, because sometimes it can be a little bit overwhelming. There’s so many things you can do, and if you don’t have a general sense of direction, it can throw you off completely, and you won’t really feel encouraged to keep going. So have a bit of a plan, and persevere, because sometimes it can be hard. Especially with a big move, you’ll face a lot of obstacles, and you kind of feel like you wanna give up.

What are you looking forward to the most?

Definitely releasing my music, And seeing where I can go with my career in the music industry, seeing how I can develop my skills, and obviously seeing how people will [react to my music]. That’s the most immediate thing I’m looking forward to.

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