LITZ is here to empower everyone to dream big and find love on our own
As P-pop faced a boom in recent years, many groups began to carve out their own spaces in the industry. One of the ringing names in the wave of acts is LITZ, shortened for Life In The Sunshine. The group, made up of Bianca Santos, Ashtine Olviga, Fatima Añonuevo, Heart Ryan Evangelista and Yumi Garcia, first popped up on our radars with their rendition of James Reid’s Natataranta. While girl groups are often expected to begin with cute and bubbly concepts to make their presence known, their version of the track features a fiercer, more mature quintet of girls ready to make their mark.
But the ferocity doesn’t only appear as a concept in their performances. When I sat down with LITZ over Zoom, there was an air of pride and excitement. Their passion for their craft and eagerness to discover what's in store was palpable.
While many believe that a singular career seals our fate for the rest of our lives, LITZ aims to defy that thinking. On the topic of dreams given up to pursue a position in a girl group, the members emphasize that LITZ was a golden opportunity they grabbed instantly. However, they don't want to tie themselves down to this one dream. Heart expresses, “I think everyone can have a lot of dreams.” She adds, “For [LITZ], I don’t think we’re sticking to only one goal or one dream. We want to pursue a lot. Being part of this girl group is one of [those goals], and I think achieving [all of] them is a big ‘yay!' for us.”
Handpicked from the larger pool of aspiring pop stars from PPop Generation, VIVA called the current lineup of members in the middle of the pandemic to participate in the upcoming girl group. The members got along from the onset thanks to their history together. Ashtine shares, “Hindi na ganoon kahirap makisama kasi matagal na namin nakasama ang isa’t isa (It wasn’t that hard to get along because we’ve known each other for a while).” Since then, the girls have continuously trained to reach a goal precious to many a P-pop group: a smashing debut.
Ahead, we get up close and personal with VIVA’s rising girl group, LITZ.
Wonder: How was it like training under G-Force’s Teacher Georcelle? What’s the most valuable thing you've learned during your time with her?
Ashtine: Change is okay. Ang sakin kasi, kapag nag-cha-change ka, nag-grow ka. Minsan kasi yung tao takot sa change—ako, before, takot ako sa change talaga. ‘Yun yung pinaka-tumatak sa akin kasi yun yung bumuhay sakin, yung nagpatao sa akin na, “Uy okay lang yan, lumabas ka sa comfort zone mo.” Hindi lang po pagsasayaw yung naturo [ni Teacher Georcelle] sa amin, sobrang dami talaga.
(Change is okay. For me, when you change, you grow. Sometimes people are scared of it, just like how I used to be. That [mindset] stuck with me because it motivated me. It made me realize, “It’s okay. Get out of your comfort zone.” Teacher Georcelle taught us many things, not just how to dance.)
Heart: Not only with change, right? She allows us to make mistakes. With mistakes, we learn and grow from them. We've become stronger with the lessons and challenges that we face. [Teacher Georcelle] is very warm-natured and gives us good life advice; she's really like a mother to us.
W: Let’s zero in on your debut song, Kidlat (Lightning), composed by Marion Aunor. How was the experience like working with a producer like her for your debut?
Yumi: Sobrang gaan lang ng work namin with her. Nag-eenjoy kami at marami din kami natutunan [kay Marion]. My favorite part while working with her sa recording studio is ‘yung nag-experiment kami kung papaano mas maging maganda sa tenga yung Kidlat.
(Our work with her was easy. We enjoyed and learned a lot from Marion. My favorite part while working with her in the recording studio was when we experimented with how to make Kidlat sound better.)
Bianca: She's such a pro in her craft, and super dali niyang katrabaho. First meeting namin nun, pinadama niya sa amin kung ano yung deeper meaning ng Kidlat. And she helped us kung paano i-de-deliver sa mga tao yung storya ng Kidlat.
(She’s such a pro at her craft and really easy to work with. During our first meeting, she made us feel the deeper meaning of Kidlat. Then, she helped us figure out how to deliver Kidlat’s story.)
Fatima: Yung magandang thing in working with her [is] that is she's very open to suggestions. Dahil doon, natututo din kami. Nagiging malawak rin yung kaalaman namin about sa song, about sa craft namin.
(The best thing about working with her is she’s very open to suggestions. Thanks to that, we also learned. As a result, our knowledge about the song and our craft widened.)
W: Kidlat sings about the rush of feelings and memories when you see an ex or someone you’ve had a falling out with. But in the end, you have no regrets about how things ended. Have you guys also experienced a similar situation? Not precisely in the romantic sense—but seeing an old friend, remembering all the good times and wondering why things went south?
Fatima: Whether we admit it or not, young women fall in love, and we've felt the urge to fall in love. Medyo nakaranas na rin ako ng ganon, kaya malapit sakin yung song. Hindi ko na tinatanong why it happened, kasi, I found my own Kidlat. I found my self-worth. Kidlat is [also] about finding your self-worth—after everything that has happened in your past and every struggle you've been through.
(Whether we admit it or not, young women fall in love, and we've felt the urge to fall in love. I kind of experienced this, too. That’s why the song is dear to me. I don’t ask why it happened because I found my own Kidlat (lightning). I found my self-worth. Kidlat is [also] about finding your self-worth—after everything that happened in your past and every struggle you've been through.)
Bianca: Young women experience love [at] nag-fa-fall out of love. Di natin alam yung mga tamang choices natin, mga ilang ulit pa. Pero sa dulo makikita mo rin yung kidlat mo, yung support. Doon ako naka-relate.
(Young women experience love and fall out of love. We did not know how to make the right choices until after a couple of times. But in the end, you’ll see your kidlat, your support. That’s where I was able to relate.)
W: This Women’s Month, Wonder celebrates the loud, unapologetic and opinionated Nasty Woman. She’s fierce, and she uplifts the women around her. So how do you guys, as LITZ, empower young women in the Philippines?
Fatima: Kidlat is our way of empowering them. We want them to realize how worthy they are of the love that they are giving. You don't have to please anyone. The song isn't only about a love crisis, but it can also be about bad habits na nagkaroon sila before. It depends on how they relate to the song, but we want to inspire them na ma-realize nila na yan yung kidlat mo. Mahahanap mo sarili mo kung papahalagahan mo sarili mo.
(Kidlat is our way of empowering them. We want them to realize how worthy they are of the love that they are giving. You don't have to please anyone. The song isn't only about a love crisis, but it can be about bad habits that they had before. It depends on how they relate to the song, but we want to inspire them in a way that they realize their kidlat; that you’ll find yourself once you value yourself.)
Heart: You don't need to find that in anyone else. It's inside you. We hope that we inspire our listeners with the song's meaning and hope it resonates with them. I hope they carry Kidlat in them.
Ashtine: Gusto namin pag naririnig nila yung Kidlat, na-mo-motivate sila na piliiin nila sarili nila.
(When people hear Kidlat, we want them to feel motivated to choose themselves.)
W: Why do you think it’s important to continue supporting and empowering young women, especially Filipinos, through your music?
Fatima: I think mahirap makipag-interact personally these days, so our music is our way of communicating with them. Doon din kami na-i-inspire to make good music and to encourage them gamit yung message ng kanta na ginagawa namin. Natataranta is like Kidlat, empowering women yung gusto namin iparating doon.
(I think it’s hard to interact [with people] personally these days, so our music is our way of communicating with them. We also get inspired to make good music and encourage them using the messages of our songs. Natataranta is like Kidlat; we want to show that we’re empowering women.)
Heart: I think even if it's 2022, not many people realize that it's okay to be just by yourself. Especially in the Philippines, we're very traditional. They think that to get love, they have to receive it from someone else. And that's not okay. So we should be more open to [Kidlat’s] kinds of messages, especially for women in the Philippines.
Ashtine: Hindi kailangan hanapin sa iba yung pagmamahal, kasi mahahanap mo rin sa sarili mo.
(They don’t need to look for love from others because they’ll find it in themselves, too.)
W: Looking back from your training journey to your major debut with Kidlat, what’s the most significant realization you reached, and how does it influence how you are as a member of LITZ?
Fatima: There's always room for improvement. We can always improve, and every training is part of our progress. ‘Di dapat yun madalin. (We shouldn’t rush the process.) We can do better than we are today.
Bianca: Yung dedication, kahit nag-uumpisa ka lang. Pag napagod ka, di ka susuko agad. Paano mo maabot pangarap mo kung susuko kaagad diba?
([The importance of] dedication, even if we’re just starting. When you get tired, you shouldn’t give up immediately. How will you reach your dreams if you give up as early as now?)
Heart: Always believe in yourself. [Have a good] attitude. Because not only is it good and better for those who you're working with, but it's also great for yourself because you learn discipline. Di tatamarin yung tao sa paligid mo, di tatamarin yung sarili mo na gawin yung mga bagay na ginusto mo. (People around you won’t get lazy, and you won’t get lazy to do the things you wanted to do.)
W: Lastly, where do you guys see LITZ five years from now?
Fatima: Five years is such a short time. I want to see LITZ as still LITZ— [a group] that makes good music, who's still into empowering young women like them. LITZ as staple concert artists if we can. We're working on it.
Bianca: And pinapakinggan pa rin po nila yung mga kanta namin. (And they’re still listening to our music.)
Heart: When people talk about OPM, one of the top musicians they would say is LITZ.
Yumi: The future of LITZ for me is to perform internationally. Parang ang fulfilling to perform for [our fans,] GLITZ, sa ibang bansa. I always tell my co-members na iba yung future of LITZ for me, and something big will happen to all of us. (It's fulfilling to perform for GLITZ in different countries. I always tell my co-members that LITZ’s future is different for me, and something big will happen to all of us). Trust the process.
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If there’s anything I picked up from my conversation with LITZ, it’s that their hunger to make an impact will take them places. One can see it in the gleam in their eyes when they talk about their journey to where they are. It’s also in their eagerness to learn from the people around them and to impart the same knowledge through their music. It might be a small spark to some, a small flame they’re expecting to burn out soon. But from where I was watching, it’s safe to say that it’s an insatiable thirst to continue doing their own thing. And as LITZ continues marching to the beat of their own drum, we can expect that many will follow suit.
Photography Jan Mayo
Art Direction Aya Reika Mayani
Art Alexandra Lara
Styling Jorge Jahnke assisted by Charls Maris Chua
Special Thanks VIVA Records