DESPITE existing as an independent band for the past decade, Up Dharma Down (UDD) was able to amass a loyal fan base, and penetrate radio stations and music television channels. They also performed continuously from small gigs to major concerts, and even earned the most viewed song in music-streaming site Spotify for the year 2014. The song was “Tadhana,” and used as the theme of the hit rom-com indie film of the same title.
Such are the encouraging signs that even as an indie, a band, so long as it produces good music, can become a commercial success. For Up Dharma Down, in fact, they have made it not just within the local music industry, but also in the international scene.
Off to Sing
Up Dharma Down’s (UDD) biggest milestone to date is its current single and music video, “All the Good Things.” Inspired by the sights and sounds of Singapore, the project was completed with the generous support of the island nation’s tourism board, and aptly celebrates the neighboring country’s 50th anniversary.
More importantly, the recording means that a fourth album is in the works for the band.
On May 19, UDD and the Singapore Tourism Board area director for Philippines Adrian Kong launched “All the Good Things” at the 12 Monkeys Bar in Century City Mall, Makati City. The event saw live performances from the band, comprised of vocalist and keyboardist Armi Millare, guitarist Carlos Tanada, bassist Paul Yap and drummer Ean Mayor. The night was capped with the premiere of the song’s music video entirely shot in Singapore.
At a group interview after the launch, The Manila Times asked Up Dharma Down if it was really the band’s choice to remain independent throughout the years.
Mayor, who plays the drum, paused for a moment and replied that they may not have been good enough for major recording labels.
“Mataba daw kami eh. Wala kaming tattoo at hindi daw kami tumatalon sa stage,” he added laughing.
“Hindi din daw ako nag-o-OOTD [outfit of the day post],” Armi joined in.
On a more serious note, the band revealed that it had always been their “personal choice” not to sign with commercial studios despite the many disadvantages of doing so.
“We want to remain independent. Masaya kami as it is because we get to control what we put out [musically],” bassist Yap confirmed.
For Armi, the rose among the thorns, there are also advantages in being independent. One such benefit is that UDD is able to evolve as a band the way they want to, and the same goes for their music.
“I think we’re an evolving band because right now we’re exploring synthesizers, drum machines,” Mayor explained. “We know we have to have a new sound, inspiration, influences, but we get to decide on all of it.”
Asked how different the sound of UDD has changed over the years, the drummer replied, “Sobrang iba. Our first album was [released]11 years ago. ‘Yong knowledge namin sa music sobrang limited pa within the Philippines . . . ‘Nung lumabas kami ng Philippines, nakita namin ang ibang foreign bands. It was very educational makasabay ang ibang bands abroad dahil nakikita mo ‘yong technology nila and discipline.”
These days, Up Dharma Down is busy writing songs for their upcoming album set for release in 2016. They have also traveled to Singapore, whose environment they find artistically nurturing, and are happy to dedicate their new single to the nation.
Thus, in celebration of Singapore’s 50th anniversary, “All the Good Things” is a refreshed initiative to invite Filipinos to the ever energetic, dynamic and progressing Southeast Asian nation.
Talking more about their Singapore immersion, the group related how they enjoyed traveling to the cosmopolitan city, not to perform as they had in the past, but for leisure and songwriting.
Definitely a fun and new experience, UDD toured some of Singapore’s famous destinations, as recommended by STB, like the Gardens by the Bay, Henderson Waves, and the Marina Bay street circuit where guitarist Tañada even got to drive a Ferrari.
They also went to quirky places like Haji Lane where concept stores abound, and food establishments like Pidgin Kitchen and 2am:dessertbar. They further enjoyed the city’s nightlife at The Next Movement and The Mad Men Attic Bar.
Armi enthused, “Every time we go back there, there is something new. The way we like and listen to a song is just like that too, and that’s something we have in common with Singapore.”
The “All the Good Things” music video was directed by Johan Polhem, former senior creative director at MTV Australia and a Gold Awardee for Music Video at the New York Film Festival. Watch it over www.yoursingapore.ph and download the song for free.