A Filipino party wouldn't be one if there weren't a lot of family, food, and entertainment. What's your favorite part about a family party? Is it seeing all your cousins or is it when you all sing or dance? The food definitely has to be a big deal because you know lola's cooking your faves!
Disclosure and Kelis' latest music video for Watch Your Step dropped this month and shows what goes on at a Filipino family party. Kid. Studio, a team of four creatives from Toronto, Canada produced the music video. They've produced visuals for other artists like The Weeknd, Majid Jordan, 6LACK, and Big Sean to name a few. The directors for Watch Your Step are two Filipino-Canadians, Glenn Michael and Christo Anesti. myx Global chatted with the directors and asked them about the process behind creating the video, their creative journey, and favorite Filipino traditions. Check out our interview with Glenn and Christo!
Tell us more about Kid. Studio and how it started as a group of creatives in Toronto.
GLENN: Kid. Studio started in 2014 as an outlet to create videos, music content, and design while showcasing and to help bring awareness to the new creative vibrancy coming out of Toronto. It originally started with myself, Glenn, and co-founder Vince Tran, and quickly brought on other extraordinary talents like director Christo, editor Red Barbaza, and producer Julian Nieva, who has since gone on to do incredible work outside of Kid.
In 2016, in partnership with our sister company HPLA, led by Ryan Hahn and Chanel Urban, we've been able to create and compete in a whole new arena of video making. From there, we’ve been able to create music videos, shorts, and commercials for some of our favourite musicians and brands.
Growing up, were your parents supportive of your career path?
CHRISTO: My mom was always supportive of anything I wanted to do. She really trusted me to find my own path and do my own thing. She has a bit of a creative side of her as well and has alway been an amazing storyteller. I know it’s not common to have a parent be supportive of a creative path, especially a Filipino parent, so I’m thankful.
GLENN: Initially, I think my parents would’ve preferred if I pursued a more conventional road to obtaining a sustainable career. Like a lot of Asian parents, I don’t think they saw creativity as a means to a viable way of life. I think I’m the first person in my family, in Canada, to start their own business, and not have the cushion of a bi-weekly pay cheque or health benefits. They started to understand after seeing what we've been doing, and what it’s meant to me. We’ve managed to inspire people through our work and they've become a lot more supportive. It feels like our parents are some of our biggest fans now.
Speaking of parents, it looks like you have a lot of family members in the video - were they hired actors or friends and family?
CHRISTO: Since we were in LA, we unfortunately weren’t able to cast any of our actual friends and family from Toronto. Most of the cast in the video were hired actors from the Los Angeles area. Some were friends of friends of our production team out there.
How did the Disclosure/Kelis music video and concept come up - did you have to pitch the idea or were they already familiar with it?
CHRISTO: The concept for the DISCLOSURE/KELIS video, is an idea we’ve always talked about for years. Growing up Filipino in Toronto has always been such an integral part of our identity. A nostalgic memory we both shared was going to family parties or community centres and watching our family and friends line dance. We always felt like the premise would translate really well into a music video. The idea has changed many times through the years, but one thing we did know is that it had to be for an electronic song. Some of our favourite music videos of all time are narrative electronic music videos from the 90’s/early 00’s. We wanted this video to have the same energy.
While in LA in October, Disclosure hit us up to do one more video for them off the album. The budget wasn’t the biggest and we were really busy, so we knew if we were to do it, it would have to be really rewarding in another way. That’s when we realized this would be the perfect opportunity to use our concept for a Filipino party with the line dancing being the main focus.
We were in Toronto last year for Taste of Manila and we can't wait to come back! Tell us about the local Filipino scene growing up and how has the response been to this video?
CHRISTO: The Filipino scene in Toronto is massive; definitely among the largest in North America. They are a big part of every community in the city, especially the creative scene. The response has been incredible out there. There are so many Filipinos in the entertainment industry, but a lot of them are behind the scenes, including ourselves. That’s why we jumped at the opportunity to put an entire cast of Filipinos IN FRONT of the camera this time.
GLENN: The response has been amazing. A lot of DM’s, texts, and re-posts from people expressing their appreciation for how we've represented a slice of Filipino culture on this kind of platform. It really makes you feel connected by such a small collective experience. We knew a lot of people were going to relate to the video, but the response has been overwhelming.
When we interviewed Drake and close friend DJ Franzen who helped him produce The Motto, he said that he had a close relationship with Filipinos because of his best friend Niko. People are tagging and wondering if that is Drake in the video? If so - could you explain why he is in the video and from knowing him first hand, did he grow up also seeing Filipino culture? If it's not Drake - who is it?
CHRISTO: Hahaha! It’s not Drake. It’s me! He just happens to look like me. I had the beard first. My theory is that he copied his look from me, but y’all not ready for that convo. From what I do know about Drake, he’s very well versed and informed about the Filipino community. A lot of that comes from the big Filipino community in Toronto that we spoke about. You can’t do that good of an impression of Manny without having spent countless hours around titos in Scarborough.
GLENN: Facts. Yeah, that’s me and Christo playing the role as DJ’s. Couldn’t do a Filipino themed music video and not stick ourselves in there somehow. Drake’s Manny impression was very impressive btw.
Visibility is credibility. Having this video not only starring Filipinos but made by them, adds representation on both sides where people can "see themselves in it." Growing up there weren't many role models in mainstream media other than Dante Basco. Why was this important to you?
GLENN: Yes, exactly. Growing up in a Western culture, there wasn’t much representation for Filipinos, or even Asians in general that weren’t rooted in stereotypes. I think that’s why Dante’s character, Rufio, struck such a chord with so many Asian kids growing up. He was a strong leader and an outspoken layered character which is the opposite of how Asian roles back then were typically portrayed. But a lot has changed since then.
What do you hope for Filipinos worldwide to see/feel from this video?CHRISTO: A big part of what we do at Kid. is relating to/inspiring people/kids who were a lot like us growing up. We didn’t have many people to look up to in music of film or popular culture. We just hope that kids out there can watch this and see themselves in it, both in front of AND behind the camera for an international artist that isn’t even Filipino.
GLENN: I hope non Filipinos still see themselves and their families in this video and still share in the experience of a lot of the characters. Even though Filipino characters are at the foreground of this video, family dance parties are no way exclusive to Filipinos. There’s still the fun, drunk uncle, the gossiping aunts, the bored or embarrassed kids, the person you were too shy to talk to, and the food spread. With that, I hope it opens people up to being more accepting of other cultures and perspectives in mainstream culture.
What was the process like shooting the video - was it shot in quarantine?
CHRISTO: The video was in fact during COVID. We do instant tests on set prior to shooting to ensure it’s safe. Everyone wore masks while on set while off camera. The shoot itself was some of the most fun I’ve had on a music video. It was so much more light hearted and fun that most videos which are usually high stress environments. What we did that day was based on making something with love and good energy and that really came through on set. Everyone had a good time, ate good food, and hopefully felt like they were a part of something special.
Our mission with myx is to help bring Filipino talent, content and events to the world stage. Is that a similar mission of why you wanted this video out with a big group like Disclosure?
CHRISTO: Yes, definitely. Initially, we had wanted to do this video for another artist who is Filipino American. Unfortunately, it never materialized so we put the idea on the shelf. When discussing whether or not we should do this Disclosure video, the idea popped up again but we weren’t sure if we wanted to do it for an artist who wasn’t Filipino. Eventually, we decided we liked the idea of doing it for a non-Filipino artist more. It was more of a statement. That’s how much this artist trusted us. Filipino creatives in this industry to tell the story properly and that it would be riveting regardless of their affiliation with the culture.
Anything else you want to add? Anything else you are working on that you can share?
GLENN: Thank you everyone for the kind and motivating words for this video. We’ll always try our best and continue to represent the Filipino community. A lot more things in 2021. Stay tuned. Hopefully we can finally shoot something in the Philippines.
Lastly, we have a few rapid fire questions:
1. Favorite Filipino dish you showed:
CHRISTO: Lumpia. Pork Adobo. Sinigang. (I can’t choose just one.)
GLENN: I would’ve said ox tail kare-kare.
2. Favorite Filipino artists in Canada?
CHRISTO: Pressa. Killy. Frank Dukes.
GLENN: I second all of those! There’s also too many in Toronto to name whose work I enjoy and admire. But to name a few - Illona Fiddy, Xylk Lorena, Tylor J Santos, Tiffany Naval, Alyssa Alikpala, Tricia Hagoriles, Gennelle Cruz, Keavan, Joshua Advincula.
3. Favorite Filipino artists outside of Canada?
CHRISTO: Toro Y Moi, Yeek, Chad Hugo, Passion, and (honorary) Dennis Rodman.
GLENN: Everyone Christo mentioned, stick Rob Schneider up there, and the legend Whang-od Oggay.
Thanks Christo and Glenn for taking the time to chat with myx Global! We're definitely proud of all Kid. Studio has done so far for the community and looking forward to seeing what in store for 2021! Make sure to hit us up when you go to the Philippines!