But did you know that KZ almost did not go to this audition, that she almost decided to give up music altogether? Needless to say, it was a fork-in-the-road moment for her.
"Halos lahat pinag-audition-an ko, pero lagi akong nare-reject. So nung lumabas yung X-Factor parang paso na ko," KZ revealed. "Nagkaroon ako ng doubts na baka singing is not for me. Baka I’m not good enough, na baka I’m not better than most to really pursue this career. With the help of my family, with the help of my Dad, nag-decide ako to audition one last time. I was supposed to be taking my last few exams before my graduation nung araw ng audition, but I decided to follow my dreams. I did end up taking my exams on a separate schedule na mag-isa. It ended up na right decision to give it one last try, to give my dream and myself another chance, to pursue the stars.”
And we all know that it was more than a good decision. But she couldn't have arrived at that decision with her family and main source of support. No doubt she regards them as her superheroes.
“Family ko talaga. Sila talaga yung first kong fan base (laughs). First people who listened to whatever I had to say, the first to listen to the songs I wanted to put out," Tandingan said. "Sila ang unang naniwala sa kakayahan ko at sa akin, even before I started to believe in myself. Sa 10 years na itinakbo ng career ko, and sa 10 more na susunod, sila talaga ang constant sa buhay ko. I’m thankful I have a solid support system. And now my addition na, because now I have a husband who’s as supportive as my family. Even yung setup ko ng audio ko and everything, siya ang nag-aayos. Sila yung mas naniniwala na to never give up ng pangarap kong ito.”
And speaking of superpower, if given the chance to have one, she would choose teleportation. “Dati pa lang gusto ko nang makapag-teleport," KZ explained. "Dati gusto kong mabasa ang mga isip ng tao, pero eventually na-realize ko na hindi ko pala siya mae-enjoy (laughs). Teleportation para mas madaling maglagari (laughs). Tsaka lagi na kong kukunin ng mga event producers abroad kasi wala nang babayarang flights (laughs). Pero pinaka-main reason ko would be para madali kong mapuntahan ang family ko.”
And now there's a new valuable addition to her support system with her marriage with singer-songwriter TJ Monterde.
“Actually, nung una I’m going to be honest na may kaba, kasi base sa sinasabi ng mga tao na magbabago ang support ng fans sa ‘yo ‘pag may asawa na, baka hindi ka na pakinggan ng mga bata, parang ganun," KZ said. "Yung mga thoughts na ‘yun pumapasok talaga sa isip ko in the beginning. But when I decided to get married, I believe I made the perfect decision, lalo na ngayong pandemic na akala ko mahihirapan ako mag-adjust sa mga bagay-bagay, lalo na sa music at career. But ang nangyari, mas lalo akong natulungan ni TJ na ma-push ang sarili ko."
"For example, I’ve always wanted to be in touch with my songwriting," Tandingan added. "Since TJ is an amazing singer-songwriter, pinush niya ko na every time I feel something na to just write it down na hindi naman kailangang complete song na siya agad. During the pandemic we were able to write about 10 songs na never ko pang nagawa before. Ganun yung effect sa ‘kin ni TJ na walang nagkatotoo sa fears na pinasok ng ibang tao sa utak ko. Bagkus natulungan pa ko ni TJ na maging mas solid na artist. And I believe I’m also a better person because of TJ.”
With all the love and support around her, it's clear that KZ has had a very fruitful ten years. And now that it has become full circle, she is now embarking on an international career. She recently released collaborations with international producers and artists: "11:59" with Grammy-nominated producer Lugo Gonzales, "Winning" with DJ Flict. She also collaboarated with international DJ GATTUSO and Chinese DJ duo Frogmonster for "Somebody Like You".
In retrospect, if she had words to tell her younger self, KZ said, “Don’t be afraid to fight for who you are. Always step out of your comfort zone. Always make sure to take strategic risks, and most importantly, have fun. ‘Di ka habang buhay na bata, so enjoy everything that’s going on sa buhay mo.”