Jaenna Cali is an overly talented Filipina-Canadian singer, songwriter, producer, actress, and director that is currently splitting her time between Vancouver and Winnipeg, working on numerous projects related to her music and acting. On November 18th, Jaenna will release her brand new single, "Standing By," the follow-up prequel track to her debut single, "Simply You." Just this past week, I had the opportunity to once again speak with Jaenna briefly and ask her some questions pertaining to her new forthcoming single, how her music production has been going, her short film Miss Fortune, and more!
Hello again Jaenna, how are you today? Jaenna: Hello! I am doing awesome! Thank you so much for having me back here again. You're set to release your brand new single, "Standing By," on November 18th. The song is about mental health, burnout, toxic positivity, and hope. Do you mind sharing where the song came from personally? J: Yeah, for sure! I wrote this song when I was sixteen and living in the Philippines. I was struggling with overwhelming myself with too many things on my plate, too many decisions, and I thought that ultimate productivity is where I was supposed to be. This song came out when I couldn't find the words to express my feelings and was too afraid to -so it came out in a confession through music.
"Standing By" opens that conversation between mental health, oneself, and the people around them. We hear all these affirmative, encouraging words, but sometimes that is not what we always need and instead need a safe space to open up to express emotions without judgement. It was important for me to release this song so that young people, Filipinos, and others can know that they are not alone and may have hope in their negative feelings without the need to be positive or the need to "stifle emotions" in order to "save face." It breaks that stigma, especially in the Filipino culture, where I'm from. How is "Standing By" a prequel to your previous single, "Simply You?" J: While "Simply You" is about self-love and empowerment, "Standing By" tells the story of self-doubt, a lost soul searching for answers, and maybe not really finding any through the words, thoughts, and opinions of people who aren't really listening. I think it's important because during the formative years of life it can get really confusing and draining, and this is just a song about that. It definitely delves into the story of relationships and spirituality, the external factors that affect the self instead of solely just the self. It can bring hope through the affirmative words of the chorus or just relate with the need to be positive and says that it is not necessary to be and just feel those feelings. The glorification of being an "overachiever" and "successful" in the Philippines overtakes being able to be honest and vulnerable with these emotions and negative feelings -which is actually very healthy to come out and be expressed! As it helps us navigate where we are supposed to be and who we are truly. Last time we spoke you mentioned you were growing your skills in music production. How has that been going? J: I'm still definitely learning and have been listening to a lot of new music lately to grow that. But stay tuned for next year! Since the release of your previous single, how has the reception been? J: The reception has been great! We've got many people listening in different countries and a few people wanting to use the song for their birthday videos. Some people even tell me they use the song as part of their morning positive affirmations -which is great! Also since the release of "Simply You," you performed a few live performances over the last few months. Any more planned in the near future? J: It was a delight to perform at the Manitoba Filipino Festival this past summer, and I actually had a few different private event gigs with it as well. There will definitely be a few performances in Vancouver and, of course, my release party on November 20th. Your short film Miss Fortune won Best Film and Best Actor at the 2021 edition of the 48 Hour Film Festival Manitoba and is a Gimli Film Festival 2021 Official Selection and Toronto International Film Festival 2022 Official Selection. That must be a remarkable feeling? J: Yes! It's surreal that it happened all so fast. My sister and I wanted to write something fun and set to create a great story. Next thing we knew, we were in all of these festivals, and now we are going to TIFF. It's such an honour to be "Best Actor," as well as a lot of the lines in the film were improvised -given we only filmed in one day- and that I was acting with myself most of the time. I loved playing Miss Fortune, acting in a comedy/thriller, and it has to be one of my favourite characters to date!
What is something you wish people asked you more during interviews and what would the answer be to that question? J: Oh, good one... This one I haven't been asked before. I guess it would be "How do you juggle different artistic endeavours?" as it ties both my passions for mental health and creativity. One thing is to prioritize self-care like journaling, sleeping, meditation, and staying hydrated in order to have the energy to do a bunch of things at once. It's all about balance. On another note, I've also been studying Creative Writing for the past few months in a BFA dual-degree master's program, and it can get pretty overwhelming at times. The biggest thing I've learned is to not let your creativity overtake your life but let life take over your creativity. I'll let you deconstruct that thought.
Lastly, how do you plan on spending the remainder of the year in regards to your music and acting? J: I do plan on writing, directing, and acting in a new short film music video project which is currently in development for "Standing By." So, I am excited to integrate my love for film and music together and seeing what magic we create in the future. Stay tuned! Thanks for taking the time, Jaenna! Is there anything you’d like to add before you go?
Thank you! Make sure to stream my new single, "Standing By" on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and all other platforms.