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Up Dharma Down's Armi Millare in a Rare One-on-One With
The talented singer-songwriter on music, inspiration, and advice.

Published on: Mar 28, 2011 - 5:37am

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( When Armi Millare sings, people listen. There's something about the 25-year-old's powerful yet restrained voice and unassuming presence that captures people's attention. More commonly known as the vocalist and keyboardist of Up Dharma Down, one of the most followed bands in the music scene, the singer-songwriter remains unpretentious, and sometimes even shy-hard to believe, right? Despite the band's awards, rock god status, and recognition from a BBC radio show and Time magazine, the self-confessed loner stays grounded.


armi millare

This woman rocks, literally. Photo by Erving Go from Facebook. Click for more.


The talented Up Dharma Down vocalist opened up to about music and other things.


How long have you been singing and writing music?

I’ve been writing songs for quite sometime now and been singing far long as I can remember, the keys I learned at five years old.


Do you play other instruments aside from the keyboard?

Yes, mostly self-taught guitar and percussions as well. The koto and the kulintang are some instruments I’ve learned over the years, too.


What is it about music you love?

It's the only thing I know I can keep doing forever.


Where do you get inspiration to write music?

Life and whatever is presented alongside it, people most especially. It’s that one thing I truly want to understand more than anything else. There’s no exact value you can put into human beings except certain laws that run on expiration dates; age and health. But the mind is fascinating, feelings are tremendously interesting and the way people react to them I find immensely intriguing.


What are your favorite topics to write about?

Mostly love, but I’ve dabbled into some of my philosophies and those of the people I know and have met. I’m apolitical, unlike most artists, because to me advocacies don’t have to translate directly into songs. There are things I believe in that I wish I could write about-it may be my limits as a young songwriter that’s stopping me, but the issues I stand for, I don’t forget. There’s not many of them, too. If I can represent an idea, I let the music speak separately from me as a woman who wants to emphasize something. I just happen to have a band and a few things to say.


Why do you think people have accepted your music?

When something resonates, people simply pick it up. I don’t believe in music that not one person in the world doesn’t get. There’s got to be someone out there who appreciates the transfer of one’s feelings.


Do you get nervous before gigs and performances?

Yes. It depends on the spirit and energy of the people we're performing for. Sometimes it’s really just passive energy, that’s easy to feel. And when it’s full of expectations, it’s even stronger.


How does it feel being the only woman in the group?

I do not get special treatment being the girl of the group unless I remind the guys; but then again I’ve been such a boy my whole life. My closest friends are guys and I grew up with two brothers. I’m pretty much a bit of a boy when I dress up, too.


What can Up Dharma Down fans look forward to?

We’re currently working on the third album which is set to come out this year. I’ve just finished a batch of new songs-some of which might or might not make the album. I think it’s pretty crucial this time around to let go of certain preconceived notions about the band sounding a particular way, which is unnamable still, but the feel is somewhat there, like a thin sheath of air right above our breathing space.


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