Inside the musical realms of ((( O ))), humanity and spirituality coalesce in an ethereal union of synthesizers and eclectic soulful sensibilities. Also called The Sundrop Garden, ((( O ))) as a musical endeavour was set to be a series of 12 albums from the get-go. It’s a daunting aim for many musicians, but for the Filipina-American producer and songwriter, it’s a framework that anchors her as she ventures out into deeper sonic territories.
On her latest album “((( 4 )))”, she uncovers another facet of her inner reality in a meld of jungle, techno, and intuitive energy. We spoke to ((( O ))) about her new release, communing with nature, and channeling energy through sound.
This interview, which took place over a call, has been edited for clarity.
What can we expect from your new album “((( 4 )))?”
My album ((( 4 ))) is in a series of 12. Now, we’re at the fourth year, or actually the fifth year. Last year, I skipped one because I became a mom. It’s harder than I thought. This year, with this album, I just wanna go wild and see the world. For the last decade, I have been really introverted and just focusing on the local things. Now, I just want to actually unroot — or not unroot, but take flight — from rooting myself.
What’s behind the intention to release an album every year?
((( O ))): Everything was very energy-based. I was communicating with angels, basically. I would feel a connection with them, a way to communicate through intuition. After we built a system we could agree on, they would show up through emotions and feelings. I can’t really explain it, it’s that you know. You’re trusting that you know what’s really happening.
They guided me, and it’s a leap of faith on my part to fulfill this twelve-year project. I wasn’t really in the music industry because I was more interested in how to unlock more of my Filipino roots. It’s a universal thing, unlocking who we were before we were colonized. Just going back to energy-based thinking: If you look at the land, what’s coming from that land, instead of getting it from other places based off of the misconception that it’s better because it’s from abroad, for example. Getting rid of these thoughts imposed on us and starting with where we are, and trying to find that for the Philippines.
Through ((( O ))), I wanted to use art and expression as a way to invite people to look at the bigger picture beyond music: to explore the endemic and native parts of a place and combine it with gathering and music. It could range from meditation to going wild in a celebratory sense and a “fuck you” sense as well. Not zen, but it encapsulates everything we could possibly feel, because there’s so much.
You mention intuition, which is a sense we get from your music. It’s guided by spirituality. Not a journey that is mapped out, but something you feel.
((( O ))): If you mention that, basically what I have in front of me is a framework. It is kind of mapped out, but it allows me a place to play within the framework. I don’t know what I’m going to create. I don’t know what entities I’m going to be acquainted with. Every ((( O ))) is a new entity that I feel that I’m connected with in some part of the universe. It’s unlocking these parts of me that are maybe in me but also exist outside of me as well.
What kind of environment or headspace are you in on “((( 4 )))?” Who are you working with spiritually, or even collaboratively, music-wise?
((( O ))): All of the songs on “((( 4 )))” came from the few jams that I did for the past few years. I arranged it and I started to see through the messages and visuals that are coming from the information of the sounds and everything. It started to take shape and the stories came to life with the order of the album.
"12 years is the amount of time I’m going to try to turn around as much as I can. Meaning, help the world build through a shift of caring about things that would help us sustain in a long run as a species, being alive."
If you listen, you’re going to see a whole journey happen. Every track is different, there is no set genre or anything. That’s how I started to see this character come to life. It’s like a waiting game and letting those things unfold. And those things started to activate other things in real life, like things coming to me that help me tell the visual story of it.
Why did you decide to do ((( O ))) for 12 years? How did you set that?
((( O ))): 12 years is the amount of time I’m going to try to turn around as much as I can. Meaning, help the world build through a shift of caring about things that would help us sustain in a long run as a species, being alive. I have 12 years to do that, and after 12 years, I’m going to go back to babaylan work.
It’s interesting that you mention these messages and processes that you go through. When it comes to writing albums, these have structures of music as distinct and concrete songs, at least in a Western commercial music industry. A song starts and ends, and it’s basically self-contained in the few minutes in which it lasts. But clearly, you’re drawing from things that may not even have a start or an end. What’s the process of negotiating that?
((( O ))): I tried to frame it in that way because that’s what’s going to be the point of this project: to build the bridge right? I really got my way in many things. First of all, a symbol that has no pronunciation, but that has to come with hard work. Through DIY (Do-It-Yourself), I was able to sustain myself and not rely on people, and that gives me sanity to go in whatever direction I want to go in the moment.
What do you think you’d be like when “((( 12 )))” comes out if things go as planned?
((( O ))): I might be like 40 or something. It’s really exciting. I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about certain things that I think some artists do. It can be anything I want. It can be an abstract album. It depends on where I want to take my life. The songs are coming out so naturally, that it kind of works. As long as everything is created out of flow, it doesn’t matter what comes out of it. It just has to feel right. There aren’t so many decisions to make. I’m going by feeling. Just trust.
Listen to "((( 4 )))" below.