On evolution, sustainability and creating art as a form of extending stories through sound, an interview with ((( O ))) on her new album ((( 4 )))

((( O ))) is an ever evolving, indescribable energy that is constantly recontextualizing to what she presently feels. ((( O ))) sat down from the Philippines to discuss the mystery behind her moniker, finding joy past grief, and her colorful new album ((( 4 ))).

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((( O ))), or The Sundrop Garden is a solo musical exploration from Filipino artist June. Fans have commonly been confused on how to stay up to date with the artist and her symbol ((( O ))) is the preferred moniker for her act, but this symbol plays a heavy role in the musician’s personal lore.  

((( O ))) is a symbol that truly represents her music beyond the medium. She often combines the spiritual with the metaphysical, honoring her upbringing and holistic practices by implementing them not only within the context of her lyrics, but in the general release and crafting of her music. 

Embracing the notion of playing first, writing later, ((( O )))’s music, often large musical compositions and projects, is birthed out of orchestrated jam sessions. Some accompanied by friends and colleagues and others, solely by herself. This carefree practice of embracing creative expression before structure is evident in the album roll out. 

Her latest project ((( 4 ))) is the latest series of a passion project from ((( O ))), also known as the sundrop series where she’s planned to release one album every year during her sun drop, a.k.a her birthday. 

((( 4 ))) is the fourth installment of a series of albums, but recontextualizes everything that’s loveable about the eccentric artist and with a strong visual identity and story behind the vibrant colors, there’s so many layers that sets this project aside from its predecessors. 

In its 12 track, 38 minute run time, ((( 4 ))) tells an otherworldly narrative that confides the struggles and beauties of being human.

As the album unfolds, there resides a story about an alien finding confusion in our planet Earth. The alien draws parallels to the experience of multiple indigenous communities, playfully adding a concept of colors that are fictional as well as relative to their cultural practices.

Throughout the project, ((( O ))) ties in her own personal experiences to that of the alien, detailing very human experiences like that of finding sound through the physical Earth, finding strength in the people you hold dear, and moving past the grief of losing a child. 

The project tells a loosely connected concept behind some of the most ambitious melodies to spawn out of the artists catalog, creating a riveting experience enhanced with every listen. 

EARMILK sat down with ((( O ))) to peel back the layers of how this project came to be.

EARMILK: So starting things off, I had just, I’ve listened to the album a good four or five times now. It is a wonderful little project.  So congratulations on the release on a Sunday.

Also, happy late birthday!

((( O ))): Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it too.

Can you tell me more about the visual aesthetics of the album? What do they represent? 

I think um the [for] the gold bar over my eyes, it started when this whole project started where it kind of relates to the…symbol.

That’s unpronounceable so it’s it’s kind of like death I guess it’s just like ego death like I wanted to share my music but also didn’t want to be a part of the whole industry and all of that, like just, I didn’t want to be recognized, I didn’t want to like, I just wanted to create for the moon and the sun and everything around me and just offer it to that and create for those reasons and so that’s what it’s, that’s where it all comes from, really. 

And then I realized I needed to kind of go out into the world even more because the world is changing so I kind of wanted to, I don’t know, I think my angels are just pushing me through emotions and maybe frustrations or happiness to just bring me to where I’m meant to bring to this project. 

So this is the biggest project I’ve done so far and the blue on my hands is just a story that I’m trying to visually tell because since the album was sonically put together, there was a story and it started to come to life so I’m just trying to tell that story
of this entity which is the main character in the music video.

I’m trying to tell her story so I’m considering it to be a real story as well because manifesting this. Her story, it’s, I had to meditate and find out who and where and why she existed.

So, I had to connect with these entities and it kind of, it’s a very big trusting game where I just trust that it’s all going to make sense in the end. It’s very intention based.

Every album is a different entity that I feel like I’m connected with in the universe. So I’m kind of just like seeing it as a possibility and while I’m creating it, I just see everything kind of synchronized in real life as well, like everything kind of manifests easily and
kind of, it all falls into place. And it’s really beautiful, like, someone started posting blue hands, or Indigo-dyed hands.

And he said, can’t wait for four. And I didn’t post anything about blue hands or anything blue, except for a blue tourniquet. But, so I asked him, like, ‘how did you know’? and I sent him photos of some videos we just shot from Sanctuary that we didn’t release yet. And he said that he moved to Japan and was working for an individual dying facility. And I looked at, he just told me where they are and what it looks like in Tokushima, Japan. And it was everything that I saw in my vision for this entity, like for the main character. 

so it’s just it’s a symbol for where she came from so it’s in the progression of the story but it just kind of shows where she came from and um that’s where her journey kind of unravels.

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Okay so the blue hands represent the character within this concept of the album?

It represents the story that she’s about to go through, where she came from a community.

Let’s see. So she’s an alien who is making a harmony concoction, and she came from…
she starts to get all these insights and she ends up on Earth because things just happen that way where you’re just forced to do base things and she finds out that she’s when she lands she starts getting attacked by all these creatures and then she finds out that these creatures are actually a community of indigo dyers, indigo dying community where she are her like ancestral roots.

She actually came from Earth and the resources were running low so she was
injected with alien DNA by aliens to just survive longer and that’s how she ended up with like these permanent blue hands and blue symbol and like superpowers and so she finds out she comes from her blood, her existence originated from this indiglo-dying community on Earth.

So she finds out that they’re the ones who are being attacked, like the resources are still being depleted. And that’s the whole journey of the visual journey of the album.

There’s a lot of parallels I’m catching from that to other indigenous cultures. So it’s very interesting to hear that. I want to ask you, can you talk about what that symbol means to you?

Yeah, it always changes, so it depends on when you ask me and mood, but I think the true, original meaning for this is like life force, the source, light, life force. And someone just told me a few weeks ago that June, my name, is life source in Farsi and Persian.

So I was really amazed by that. So yeah, the symbol, that’s what it really meant to me since the beginning, and now it’s just transforming into like vaginas, portals, Wi-Fi, I mean, anything, it’s just, it’s everything. It’s everything that exists, atoms, sun radius, light radius.

So just an ever evolving symbol, essentially, with no distinct context.

It is, it’s like a big bang, basically. Everything contained into one. So it’s all there, it’s already there, and I’m just applying that to my artistic expression as well like and then making music spontaneously seeing what comes out of me and it might be like resemblance of my own DNA or my own like, climate path and and maybe the entities that I could possibly connect with I’ll be connected with around the universe so um and then just seeing how just getting acquainted with each one.

Thank you so much. You made a really interesting comment about how it can also just mean like vagina and portals. Something really stood out for me about “Sanctuary” was it pays homage to menstruation. What kick-started this idea of  talking about it?

Uh, so “Sanctuary” was just a jam, a freestyle, and I just let it talk about periods, but

I only found out a week before it dropped that, um, period is so much more powerful, and I thought, I already knew it was powerful, but I found out like how you can break it down

into every phase of the cycle. Sorry, what was your question? How was it about it?

Oh, what made that connection for you?

I have no idea.

It was the fact that it was jammed and then I was listening to it. And that’s how the connection was made. I don’t know what I’m talking about, but when I look closer, it’s really like the subconsciousness speaking. So I, without judgment, I just create songs, without judgment and I learned from it too. I’m not like a listener. I’m learning from whatever insights are coming up. 

I like that. On that same note, I brought up Motherhood recently. How has Motherhood influenced this album?

“By making it one year late”, she laughed.

It was supposed to come out last year. It didn’t come out. I didn’t have a sundrop last year. There are like three songs connected to my, our child who passed away in my stomach after five months. And then I waited two months, where the baby just passed, like not alive anymore, to give a natural birth. And I gave a natural birth by myself. And then Vincent (her partner FKJ) arrived after the tour, he had a tour. and he arrived like five hours after. 

but we waited for nine weeks for, and like everyone said, we’re gonna die and whatever, cause you have to go to the hospital to get induced. 

But I didn’t die, and that’s like the whole myth breaker that I should probably share with people, is that what happened, my body protected me from the baby by the placenta wrapped around the baby and like so I was actually it was like a scab that healed and I didn’t pick it so I didn’t bleed or have any infection it just healed itself.

It fell off and I had nothing I had no remaining body parts or whatever that’s gonna kill me or poison me so this is like a really important thing to share with people I think is that like this is the standard for hospitals to do certain things that we actually don’t mean, that we have more power in our bodies than we think. Way more, like I thought I was gonna, I could possibly die, I wanted to figure out the truth.

So it’s kind of like a world record based on our own studies because we found other women who waited, like eight women who waited, but it’s only up to, the longest was eight weeks. That’s why it was such a big break. He left alone at around nine weeks because he had to go on tour. But I refused to go to the hospital. It was good that I didn’t.

But three of the songs are about this child, who we named Ira, who didn’t make it. It was “ISLA O’SHAWN”,  “WILD CHILD”, and “eeeE”. Those were gems that happened on the birth date that the baby was supposed to be born.

I don’t know if we would say motherhood, but there’s nothing about my baby that’s alive in the album, I think. There’s nothing about it. It’s really about the first one that happened in 2018.

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I could hear how those three were sonically connected. 

Yeah, there’s a song for everyone. There’s so many songs on there so the different kinds of sounds have different kinds of moods for sure. It’s a very diverse album for sure but also “eeeE” and “WILD CHILD”  are in the wrong order so make sure you listen to “WILD CHILD” first and then  “eeeE”. 

There’s another song that has like three songs mashed into one. What is the concept behind those three that  are mashed into Black Cat?

Well, there’s supposed to be 12 songs per album, so I’m kind of just trying to make it work.

So I just smushed them all there, but I think this already happened. It was either smushing it into “Don’t Die”, which is coming after that track, or keeping it into “BLACK CAT”. So it’s an intermission song anyways, so I just put it into that song.

I mean, yeah, “BLACK CAT (IN MY FAST CAR)” are kind of like two intermission songs,

and so is the third song in the third track on that soundtrack. 

So visually, it’s when the alien, I think after traveling, the alien hits like an asteroid, hits like a comet, and she knocks out for a bit, and then “Black Cat” turns on, and it’s just like a fun, light

song to go with the heaviness of the album, the seriousness of the album so she’s kind of dreaming, kind of unconscious and then there’s like dancing going on to the song. 

Also, my spirit animal is a black panther so it’s just that I identify with that. So she’s like a black panther ninja shaman. something like that and then so I guess she just taps into that inner self consciousness it’s like a dancing black cat and then when she wakes up everything in my fast star she wakes up like everything she’s like with her invisible friends trying to be like oh shit the spaceship is gonna crash so she like takes the wheels and like lands softly so like very cool and

then they crash and then that’s the third song where it’s like this really shitty beat that I made on my on my Tempest drum machine 

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Thank you for that. Now, “Don’t Die”, I think is such a very solid mantra, just don’t die, but it has such a fun beat behind it. Does that correlate to what we were talking about earlier, about the experience that you had with the post-losing the child?

No, no, this was just, it just felt so perfectly there after getting out of the spaceship and the kids just started talking from Earth, they just started talking and just like running around. But no, it has nothing to do with the jam. It’s just pure fun. It was such an easy song to make, and we just kept this song from the jam when it was playing on the spot. And then, yeah, I love this song. It made me so happy. I had so many fun moments with it.

I imagine. It’s a very carefree song.

Yeah, so fun.

Now, you mentioned earlier that a lot of these kind of come from like the jam. Can you tell me more about that process?

I think there’s three jams total, where the album comes from. It’s just like being with friends and playing music for fun and yeah and then I just later on I just choose from which songs I want to sound like are like the way the feeling there’s a feeling there you know like there’s something captured there so I’ll just take it and then kind of bring it into a finished version of it.

And that’s how songs come about for all of the albums. Like, ((( 3 ))), for example, was one jam from one night.

How long was it?

Two hours. The jam was two hours, and then it was just like picking from parts of the jam.

Since this is the fourth entry in that series of albums, I think they come out like once every year on the full moon. What day do  they usually drop?

On my birthday the Sun drops. On my birthday August 27. 

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What makes it important for you to drop an album every year on your birthday? 

It comes up every year. It’s like a solar thing moon drops like every full moon but I think I stopped doing it after I gave birth and became a mom. And then I learned about menstruation and how like when you’re on your period or winter that’s that’s when you don’t feel sociable but there’s spring, that’s when you should just do nothing.

And all the time the full moon is on my winter season so that’s like maybe that’s why I just couldn’t. I didn’t have the energy or inspiration to promote myself. And then spring is when you kind of like start seeing the insights from life, or like that you start seeing more messages, you start solidifying the insights that you’ve had from winter. And then summer is when your group is outgrowing. So, like being sociable and confident.

And then autumn is where it like, basically beats you down and tells you you’re a piece of shit or you did great in living your higher self. So yeah it depends on if you lived your summer the way that you were um you knew that your best self. 

Now, you might have answered this question earlier, but I know the fourth entry in this little series kind of came a little later than expected just because of how busy you were last year. What was the intuition when it came to writing this fourth one?

I just kind of put the songs together and then started seeing visuals come to life so I started to see that the characters are getting acquainted with the characters so I just chose the

songs that had like a comp had some solid feelings or brought up solid visuals, and I was just basing it off of that, and just going for it, whatever felt right. It was really intuition-based.

How does your practice in sustainability and connectedness to the earth feed into your music?

In the messages, for sure. In the lyrics, and also by listening to the melodies that are in the land, I can hear them. 

I always like to record melodies that I can hear. I can hear them from far away. It’s like a choir or something, or like earthy, Earth people. Or angels, I don’t know. I just record them when I hear them. 

Like one time I came to a beach and then I heard them. I left and I forgot the melody and I came back and then they were still there, the melodies were still there. So I just think that’s how I include it in my music. But also in freestyle, it just comes out just because I’m interested in all of it, in sustainability and indigenous peoples, yeah, traditional living and being in harmony with the land , so it’s going to naturally come out in my lyrics.

I can definitely hear it. If listeners could take away one thing from this album, what would you hope for it to be?

Connecting to nature, for sure. Just opening their minds and seeing the possibilities of how we can express ourselves and the conversation we can actually talk about and share through art. and like having interviews like this and being able to tell like what’s behind the story and the intentions and how you can live a creative lifestyle in synchronicity with the forces that help us.

In terms of the concept of this alien character protagonist that you’ve guided throughout this entire project. Where does the closing track “Forever” leave that protagonist and where do you hope to see it go? 

Where does she go after Forever?

I actually don’t know. I’m waiting for the ending to come up naturally, you know? Yeah. I think I know where she goes actually, but I’m not sure if that’s where she goes. I’m waiting for it.

No, that’s perfect. Actually, I like that. It’s very up to interpretation.

I think that she just has to leave. She has to leave, definitely. And even if she leaves, they’re always going to be connected. I don’t know why she leaves, though. And yeah, I don’t know why she has to leave. So, that’s just what it, that’s just the vibe of forever.

Like she sounds like she has to leave. Like, so let’s see, let’s see when that happens.

Stream ((( 4 ))) out now and connect with ((( O ))) here: Instagram | Website | Facebook