Having a love of a variety of different cultures and music genres, artist Fiona De Vos, blends her love of these seamlessly with her latest single, “When Will I See You Again,” which is her first foray into pop songwriting and recording.
“When Will I See You Again” is about a tale of two lovers whose passion endures through centuries and many lifetimes, with a chance meeting in the modern world, resulting in a multitude of memories of days gone by. The music video, directed by Lisa Punz, is just as breathtaking as the single, featuring two parallel stories, one in a modern, European city, and another with a backdrop of medieval castles.
De Vos is a classically-trained singer, who fuses her love of pop, classical, and her native Philippine culture into her love of music. Her debut album, Mahal na Likha, features Philippine love songs and Kundiman, along with De Vos’ interpretation of them.
“When Will I See You Again” is your first foray into pop songwriting and recording. What led you to pursue this genre with this single?
It was a totally unexpected turn of events. After years of doing other things in my life, as well as recovering from a serious illness and other difficulties, I wanted to get back to singing. At first I thought of making demo recordings, perhaps for opera auditions, since that seemed to be the only career path for conservatory-trained classical singers like me. So I contacted a pianist from the Philippines, Aries Caces, who then introduced me to German producer Michael Hecht and Austrian video producer Lisa Punz. During our first meeting, we agreed to make an album of Philippine classical songs, which to our knowledge had never been recorded to a high standard before. It was in the middle of this recording project that Michael suggested that I try my hand at pop songwriting. So I did, and what came out was When Will I See You Again.
Lisa Punz, the director for “When Will I See You Again,” vividly captured the emotional feel and pull behind the song. Can you share what filming was like, and how you connected with her, and your co-star?
The filming was simply magical. When Will I See You Again was inspired by some out-of-this-world experiences I had been having at the time. And Lisa was indeed able to capture the essence of the story.
To me, the events that unfolded felt so surreal. One moment I was writing the song, and then a few weeks later we were filming at medieval castles in the woods over a hundred kilometers away from Vienna. Our shooting days were productive and at the same time relaxed. We did what we needed to do, and were blessed with everything that we needed—cooperative weather, a beautiful sunset, a place with no other people for shooting arrows, wonderful nature, and a great team spirit.
Working with Lisa has been great. I told her the story behind the song, as well as some ideas and preferences, and simply entrusted the rest to her—the story-boarding, planning, directing, choice of locations, and so on.
My co-star in the music video is actually my husband, Frederik De Vos. I’m so thankful not just for his acting in the video, but also for his rock-solid support throughout this project and beyond.
You’re a huge purveyor of not only music, but the arts and culture of your native Philippines, and your debut album reflects your love of this and Kundiman – can you share some insight with us about this, and why it resonates with you so deeply?
It’s a joy and honor to contribute in our own little way to continuing our traditions—our collective heritage—and passing them on to the next generations.
My debut album, Mahal na Likha (Beloved Creation): Songs from the Philippines, is a celebration of the timeless beauty of music from our corner of the world. The Kundiman is a type of love song from the Philippines with profound texts, deeply heartfelt music and a characteristic form. Originally a traditional or folk song, it has been infused with Western or European-American harmonies and other musical elements by 20th-century Filipino composers, such as Nicanor Abelardo and Francisco Santiago. It has thus become the Philippine contribution to our world’s treasury of art songs. Some of the songs have a rather pop or crossover sound to them, while others are in some ways similar to German and French art songs, such as those by composers Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy, for instance.
During the late 19th century, when Philippine revolutionaries were fighting for freedom from Spanish colonial rule, the Kundiman became a vehicle for uniting a fragmented people and expressing love for the motherland. Now, more than a century later, it is my hope that the music may help foster freedom from separation, celebrate unity in diversity, and awaken Love in its deepest sense.
You blend a variety of genres, including classical with pop; was this a conscious decision or did it just happen?
It just happened. As a kid, I grew up singing and listening to pop music. Then I went to an art high school and a conservatory, where I sang mostly classical music. Now I’m happy to do both. I love a wide variety of music—from bossa nova to Japanese pop/rock. And I’m grateful that the Internet allows us to explore the richness of various musical genres, styles and traditions from all over the world.
You’re currently working on new music with a variety of musicians from different cultures. Do you mind sharing with us what the writing and recording process is like for you, and working with such a diverse group of people?
Working with a diverse group of people, from different countries and cultural backgrounds, has been fun and a great learning experience. It’s beautiful to see everyone’s contribution form a greater whole, a synergy.
Songwriting and recording are deeply intimate processes for me. On the one hand, there’s a sense of deeply connecting within, drawing from the wellspring of love and inspiration that is common to us all. On the other hand, there’s also a feeling of deeply connecting outwards—with my collaborators, especially with my co-writer Michael Hecht, with the listeners, and with the beloved.
Do you have an anticipated release date of your new music and/or single coming out?
At the moment, we’re still working on a release plan for our upcoming songs. We intend to release one of the songs in a couple of months, hopefully, in July or August.
Do you recall your first concert, and if so, can you share the memory of it?
My first full concert was my voice recital at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. I was 16. It was a concert within a play. The core of the story was one’s search for meaning and love—love for a partner, love for family and friends, love for country, love for God and so on—and surrendering to this love. This, I realize now, is the essence of my current work as well.
Who has been your most favorite to see in concert, so far?
Having grown up and living in small towns most of my life, I haven’t really been to that many concerts. But one of the musicians that really blew me away lately was Austrian tenor Herbert Lippert. His voice was magnificent. It simply filled the space. And it’s a beautiful unamplified sound that cannot be fully captured in recording. You don’t just hear it but also feel it reverberating in your body. It was breathtaking.
What was your first album on cassette, CD and/or vinyl?
Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard soundtrack.
Which five albums and/or artists would you not want to live without?
Wow. Tough choice. Off the top of my head—Natalie Dessay and Barbara Bonney for their beautiful voices, Kazutoshi Sakurai of Mr. Children for his poetry in pop music, Antonio Carlos Jobim for the chill vibes, Hilary Hahn for her energy and technical mastery. And there are lots more.
Do you have a bucket list of female or male musicians you’d love to collaborate with?
I don’t have a bucket list, but I’m open to collaborating with anyone.
Do you have a guilty music and/or entertainment pleasure?
Funny and cute memes, simple living and minimalist living blogs, Reddit, YouTube, documentaries, how-to videos… in short, the Internet (smiles).