UDD’s Armi Millare performs in Berlin, eyes the world
BERLIN, Germany – Like many of the best things in life, UDD's Armi Millare's first performance in Europe was unplanned. The singer-songwriter was in Germany for a vacation when the opportunity to perform for some of her Filipino fans here came up.
Following a successful two-week tour in Canada in June, Millare realized that her calling as a musician is bringing a piece of home to those abroad. “I realised that perhaps, my calling as a song writer has a lot to do with people who are far away from home because after the show, they come up to us and tell us that we bring them closer to home by bringing the music.”
After the said tour, Millare found herself toying with the idea of reaching out to more Filipinos abroad. In July, her scheduled vacation with her long-time partner, photographer Jake Versoza, took a turn towards work. He was called in by German publishing house Steidl to finalize the second edition of his book, The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga.
“I just thought that maybe I’d do something but it didn’t really materialize until the Philippine Embassy in Germany opened up the opportunity to do that,” Millare shared. “I didn’t realize that was exactly what I had been thinking about. I wanted a body to connect to the Filipino community and what better way to do that than to go through the embassy and that is precisely what happened.”
It was how, quite serendipitously, modern Filipino music made its debut in multicultural Berlin this July. The singer-songwriter performed 4, stripped-down versions of her band’s hits for young Filipino expatriates as well as their European friends – Feelings, Thinker, Luna, and Tadhana.
“Armi was fantastic,” said Manuel Biermann, a German who was part of the crowd that night. “The way her vibe and musicality combined skill and comfort was so impressive!”
Biermann added that he was pleasantly surprised to hear a different type of music from the Philippines. “It was very refreshing to hear some true, original Filipino music instead of talented Filipinos singing the classic hits from Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. This is what I used to think about Filipino music, but now I see that these wonderful talents have so much more to offer,” he added.
Formed in 2005, UDD has been called as the band that’s most likely to make it big abroad. The band produces a good mix of Filipino and English songs, with Millare championing the beauty and romantic quality of their songs in the local language.
Philippine Ambassador to Germany Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek thanked Millare for the performance as well as Isa Tabasuares, a Filipina based in Berlin who performed a couple of songs as well.
“We want Filipino-Germans and our German and other foreign friends to experience the Philippines through our music, and I would like to thank Armi and Isa for sharing their music with us. The Embassy is proud of the kind of artistic talents that the Philippines has to offer, and we are making that known in this part of the world,” Thomeczek said. “In fact, we’re happy that people like Armi are creating music in Filipino which helps in promoting our beautiful language to other cultures.”
Time to go global
On January 2017, the band released their single Sigurado. The song topped digital music streaming service Spotify’s Global Viral 50 and Philippines Viral 50 Charts. This made UDD the first Asian act to achieve such a feat, overtaking the likes of Taylor Swift and The XX.
Millare says the success of the single and the band comes from the Filipino’s love for sharing. “The capacity of Filipinos to share something they like is really strong and that’s also something that I’m sort of banking on for this whole thing to work,” she added.
She also sees touring more countries as an option since a lot of the people who supported them since they started out have already gone abroad to work. “Every musician thinks of touring, and touring is the way for people to hear your music live. That’s one way to bring your music out. Sonically, in a record, an mp3 or on a radio – it’s different to be there, to deliver the music yourself,” she said.
As to how their music will be perceived by non-Filipinos, Millare says we’ll have to wait and see. “We’ll see how it goes. There’s so much music on the internet and we’re at a stage to find a more effective way of promoting the music and to me, this is effective.”
She cites UDD’s early days and how word of mouth helped get their music out, back when the internet was still in its early stages of being a major promotional tool. Now, Millare is duplicating the formula by doing one small gig at a time in a different place. “A lot of opportunities opened up just by doing that one show in Berlin. So I’m quite happy and excited about this whole system,” she added.
UDD’s fourth album is nearing the end of production and fans who have been waiting for it for roughly five years are definitely excited. However, with new opportunities popping up, Millare is hoping they can still include some of them in their upcoming record.
Fans should not worry though as while they wait for the new album, Millare and the band will be working on getting their current music further out and closer to people abroad. “It always starts with one step and that step I took when I went to Berlin. I’m petrified of performing alone but some things, you have to do. So I did.” – Rappler.com