Summer is just a few breaths away, which means we’re due for a feel-good summer anthem. After all that the world has been through lately, it’s exactly what we need. In this CELEB exclusive, we spoke with singer/entrepreneur Thomas Orlina about his new single “Brush it Off” out now. This happy melody is light on the surface, but it’s dedicated to critical subject matters such as LGBTQ rights, BLM activism and #StopAsianHate.
With the song dropping just in time for PRIDE, we’re all in for a treat. The Filipino-American singer hopes to bring a smile to everyone’s face, regardless of where they come from. Co-written by Dexter Giffard, “Brush it Off” is a pop dance global anthem promoting inclusivity, diversity and equality.
View the song and video below.
Who is Filipino-American Singer Thomas Orlina?
A song about diversity and inclusivity is even more acknowledgeable when its writer is cut from the same cloth. Born and raised in L.A., Orlina holds a BA in Cinema and Television Arts and chose the career path to back it. The L.A. native has been affiliated with the entertainment industry for well over a decade. As a result, with advertising, television, public affairs and film production, Orlina gained several skills up his sleeve.
For one, he has his own show, “Your Time With Thomas.” The show is linked with his Youtube channel under the same moniker. Orlina uses this platform to preach exactly what his single is about: diversity, mental health, and kindness. Evidently, each episode serves as a valuable advice/self-help video. Examples range from coming out, to acing an interview. Additionally, Orlina is recognized by major news and entertainment sources. Publications include CNN, Inquirer, The Advocate, The Wall Street Journal, and more.
When it comes to identity, Orlina dove deep during our interview. “I wrote the hook for the song when I was coming out,” says the singer, “and that was a decade ago.” Being a gay songwriter fresh out of college brought its own challenges, and Orlina’s mantra remains unchanged. “‘Brush it off baby don’t let it get to you’ is timeless. That [message] came out 10 years ago and now we’re talking about it in 2021.”
Unpacking “Brush it Off”: An Inclusivity and Diversity-Forward Anthem
The creation of “Brush it Off” was in the works for a little over 10 years. As the trials, errors, and lessons of life occurred to him, Orlina makes the song an extension of himself. Upon asking Orlina what “Brush it Off” means to him, he shares that it’s really an embodiment of many struggles he shares with the world.
“Being a [gay] Filipino-American wasn’t an easy road,” the singer remarks, “especially coming out over 10 years ago. It wasn’t accepted as much as it is today. So for me, I think it was moreso owning everything about me and just being confident about who I am.”
A proud gay, Filipino artist, Orlina hopes his journey paves the way for others. “So that really inspired me as a Filipino-American” says Orlina, “because there’s only a small handful. We have Bruno Mars and influencer Bretman Rock, but as far as the Filipino-American community goes, the lane that I’m building for myself is open. I definitely want to make a lasting impact.” Orlina makes his mark as the driving force of Filipino-Americans in the LGBTQ community.
“I really wanted to take my time with the message of the song,” Orlina says. “Thinking of every age range, I thought this is a song that you can hear at the club and a song you can have kids listening to. It’s really a song for everyone.” Inspired by Justin Bieber‘s Changes album, Lady Gaga‘s Chromatica, and Britney Spears, Orlina brings electronic elements and similar instruments in his single. “Brush it Off” also has a major organization attached to it, GLAAD. GLAAD has a history of working with major artists like Britney Spears and Beyonce.
BLM, LGBTQ, and #StopAsianHate in “Brush it Off’ Music Video
Orlina, being a minority in his ethnic background and identity, is the exact change we need in shifting the image of music. “I’m not the typical poster child for a pop anthem that’s doing this type of music; this genre” says Orlina. “It’s just so different and so new, and I think that’s what we’re holding on as far as the uniqueness.” Speaking about crucial subject matters brings Orlina’s song to another level.
Being an Asian American himself, the “Brush it Off” popstar feels the toll of the heartbreaking instances of injustice towards Asians. “The #StopAsianHate movement is a big movement that resonates with me,” he says. Orlina expresses similar sentiments for BLM. For the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, there are people in the music video wearing masks written with names of victims. “I definitely wanted to honor all of those people with a powerful moment in the video.”
With an internal component about identity and an external visualization of adversity through racial injustice, “Brush it Off” checks off many marks. However, there’s another element to the song that resonates with the vast majority of the world. One subject matter that does not get enough attention.
Inside The Music Video
“The opening depicts mental health,” adds Orlina. “The solo shots, and the guy in the beginning that gets a phone call … you make it what you will. It’s crafted to depict a mental health issue because towards the end of the video, he’s alive and happy. He’s moved on. This is tailored into the “Brush it Off” theme, being inclusivity, diversity, mental health, LGBTQ, Black Lives Matter, and #StopAsianHate.”
“Because the song is for everyone, let me make the video for everyone as well,” says Orlina. The singer definitely talks the talk and walks the walk. His depiction of inclusivity and diversity reflects both his song and the video. In the music video, you’ll find people from all walks of life. “Asian, Hispanic, African American, we also have bi-racial kids. They’re really the face of the future. Everything about the video is something that I feel like is going to be the future.”
A man of his word, Orlina casting requirements for the video were nonexistent. “There were no requirements; I wasn’t saying you have to look a certain way. Everybody that’s in the video basically volunteered, which was remarkable.” In an effort to celebrate all body types, sizes and backgrounds, this was truly an organic process.
Orlina is the singer/songwriter, and Dexter Giffard the co-songwriter. The song is mixed by Luke Villemur and produced by Jay Cruz. For the video, Orlina is the Artist, Producer, and Director of “Brush it Off.” Jimmy Page is the Director of Photography, Will Brown is the stylist, and Eddie Valenzuela is the choreographer. Additionally, Alonzo de Leon is responsible for the photography, and John Wolfsohn handled the cover art. You can watch the video below to see Orlina’s creation, which is truly a product of himself.
For more about Thomas Orlina, visit his website at https://thomasorlina.com.